Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hot Dog House - Flowood

Can you remember your first hot dog? I wish I could; nowhere in the myriad of dirty water dogs, chargrilled ballpark franks, or lucky dogs of my nascent years is there any one particular hot dog that stands out in my mind. Sure, I’ve relished those first ketchup slathered then later mustard topped tubes of meat since day one but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really had a hot dog epiphany.

Growing up a hot dog was a hot dog. While my family may have always purchased the black labeled ballpark franks, it wasn’t a conscious decision. No it wasn’t until I made it to college that I discovered the majesty of the all beef wonder that goes by the name Hebrew National. There a few fraternity brothers made the valiant effort to keep kosher. Once I tried that ConAgra specialty, things changed. It was an all beef revelation and the mystery meat dogs of my youth were quickly forgotten.

The only reason I bring all this up is that I recently heard of a relatively new restaurant that serves only hot dogs. Aptly named The Hot Dog House, it features Nathan’s hot dogs and a succinct menu of seven varieties. There’s just one problem, it’s on the far end of Flowood. Of course, when a good hot dog is concerned, what’s a little extra drive to stoke the appetite?

When faced with a menu of various toppings, the rational thing to do would be to try two maybe three dogs and save the rest for another time, but that’s boring. After ordering one of all seven hot dogs on the menu, I sat back to see what owner Ben McCain would bring to the table.

After a few minutes of scrambling around his meager kitchen, McCain emerged with four trays of hot dogs. First up was the Chicago dog.
I will freely admit that I am not very well versed in the language of Chicago dogs, but I was surprised at how this tasted.
I was expecting the heat of the sport pepper and the vinegar of the mustard to dominate but after enjoying the juiciness of the steamed Nathan’s dog, it was all pickles and cucumbers.

The second tray contained the first two dogs on the menu, the house dog and the New Jersey dog.
As you can see, the house dog on the bottom is the all time classic toppings of ketchup and mustard.
Frankly, it’s hard to beat neon colors of French’s mustard and Heinz ketchup.

Moving on to the New Jersey dog, the choice of toppings was a little confusing.
Green peppers, onions, and mustard? What exactly makes this a New Jersey topping?
When I read New Jersey dog on the menu, I was halfway expecting a deep fried ripper dog, but the pungent punch of chopped onions and green peppers had its own charm.

The next duo was the Carolina dog and the Texas dog.
There was nothing subtle about this combination. With an abundance of chili, coleslaw and cheese, this pair would take a little work to attack properly.
If there was one thing that dominated the Carolina dog, it was the cole slaw. It was sweet, crunchy and it muscled its way across the entire dog, but in a good way.
The Texas dog, it looked big and brash. Covered in chili and cheese and topped with sliced jalapenos, I was hoping for Texas sized bite of forward flavors, but was a little let down.
The chili was subtle without any heat or noticeable cumin flavor and the jalapenos were pretty tame for a hot pepper. I asked what went in the chili and was disappointed to hear that McCain uses a bagged, frozen chili. He said he experimented with different chili recipes but the premade chili tasted best to him.

Rounding out the menu was a Georgia dog and a Mississippi dog.
The Georgia dog on the right consists of chili, mustard, onion, and ketchup while the Mississippi dog on the left is topped with sauerkraut, chili, onion, and mustard. Once again, I have no idea why these toppings are associated with these locations but I just went with it.
As for the Georgia dog, it’s all hot dog and chili with a nice hint of mustard to round out the flavor.

Saving the home state dog for last, I delved into the Mississippi dog.
I don’t eat sauerkraut very often but this had a distinctive musty taste that dominated the whole dog. With a taste too reminiscent of old pickling spices, I had to put this dog down.

Having gone through the entirety of the menu, I was brimming with questions about the setup of The Hot Dog House. As for the odd variety of names and topping combinations, apparently McCain kept the same menu as the previous owner and hasn’t really made too many changes yet. If you’re like me, you may be wondering why McCain went for Nathan’s hot dogs over Hebrew National, and according to McCain, it was simply a matter of taste. McCain prefers Nathan’s to Hebrew Nats and I can respect that; I may not agree, but I can respect it.

If there was one real let down to The Hot Dog House, it was the preparation of the hot dogs. When I first read the menu and saw the New Jersey dog, I was hoping for a deep fried ripper dog. I had imagined a menu of hot dog oddities a la Hot Doug’s in Chicago or at least a bacon wrapped sanora dog or two. Unfortunately, due to zoning restrictions, McCain is only allowed to use a steamer. With that crushing limitation in mind, McCain has actually done quite well for himself. There’s nothing wrong with a steamed hot dog, but I’m a griddle man every day of the week. Fortunately, McCain has plans to expands his menu and maybe get around the crushing limitations of his zoning restrictions. In the meantime, pay The Hot Dog House a visit and see what McCain has to offer. I only wish it wasn’t on the far end of Flowood. I love a good dog, but driving 20 minutes across town can get a little old.

The Hot Dog House Address & Information
145 Albertson Drive, Suite E, Flowood, MS 39232 // 601-992-2400 // The Hot Dog House Website // The Hot Dog House Menu
The Hot Dog House on Urbanspoon

No comments: