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The Slaw Dogs

I thought long and hard whether to include reviews of restaurants, joints, cafes, lunch spots, and places I visit – and then I thought…these places are a significant part of my culinary experience.  I cook at home, I pick up take out, I grab lunch, I grocery shop.  If you are what you eat, then I should share some of my thoughts on my adventures in ordering in addition to my adventures in cooking.

My co-worker and I had once again forgotten our lunches the other day…and we’re faced with the always tough decision of where we should go to satisfy our empty stomachs.  I remembered W emailing me the link to this new Pasadena establishment…and Jennie loves a good hot dog…so we were out of the office and headed to The Slaw Dogs.

(disclosure – cell phone pics – not great photography – but the whole point of restaurant reviews is for someone to read or see enough to be intrigued and try it out…then judge)

There were many options for building your own dog…I like options but I also get a little distracted and confused by all of them.  I don’t know if you know this…but I can be a little indecisive.  However, I perused their website and menu prior to arrival and already had an inkling that I would be ordering the Caesar Dog.  And I did…I’ll get to that in a minute.

We drove up and I realized that it had taken over a space that had previously housed a cheese steak joint…that boasted world’s best Philly cheese steak.  A) We’re not in Philly; and B) “world’s best” and “recently shut down” don’t go together.  The interior has been redone, it felt fresh, clean and comfortable – kind of blackboard meets wood plank barn.  There were only 2 people in front of us, but it still took more than 5 minutes of waiting before we ordered.  The servers are still learning the menu and seemed to have a little trouble tallying up the check…to then use a little hand held calculator to add in the tax and then run my card through the CC machine.  They did have a combo meal – which included a side and a drink.  After all that, I was still a bit shocked by the $11.06 total for 1 Caesar dog combo meal (fries and and iced tea) – but I had hopes that when my Vienna all beef dog arrived piled high with the makings of a Caesar salad that it would all be worth it.  They also have a strange ticket system for keeping track of order numbers – they are in desperate of something like these.  They gave us a yellow ticket; like you might get at Trader Joe’s to enter your name in the raffle since you brought your own bag; or like you might get at a carnival or fair or at a coat-check.  Small yellow ticket = not efficient, easy to lose, hard to see for servers.  I didn’t like it.  Then the food arrived.  Looks delicious.

First though…what is the best method of attack?  Pick it up, cut into pieces, eat all croutons first…?  So I dug into the fries.  Good flavor, most of them were crispy, some a little soft, right amount of salt – they would be better cut a little smaller.  First bite of the Caesar dog was good.  The bun seemed a little small and may have made a more positive impression had it been lightly toasted, the actual dog was very good, and all of the topping was prone to falling right off, especially the croutons.  I appreciate the inclusion of the banana peppers, but would have preferred a dill pickle spear – who doesn’t like a good dill pickle?  Halfway through the dog…the bun was splitting and soggy on the bottom from the Caesar dressing, and while the bun is not the star of the show…it should be a decent supporting actor.  Overall, the taste was good, I would consider experimenting with this combination at home and I enjoyed my lunch – so who can complain, really?

Jennie got the ABLT dog with a chicken apple sausage and no bacon.  She mentioned an issue with the slaw tasting like pumpkin.  I’m new on the “I enjoy cole slaw” train and therefore had no idea what she was talking about…until I tried a piece and, yep…it tasted and smelled just like pumpkin carving.  Weird.  Maybe some sort of cabbage off-gassing…I don’t know…any thoughts…?  With the combo meal, you are also given a small little container with a piece of fudge.  A little surprise is never a bad thing.

Squint…you can catch a little glimpse of the dog hiding under a mess of romaine, Parmesan, croutons, and dressing.   The menu and options are worth exploring; truffle oil, kimchi, curry ketchup, roasted pasilla peppers,  the combinations are endless but I think I might go back to basics on the next visit – Vienna all beef dog and a toasted bun.  Earlier I mentioned the cost seemed high for what we got – really I think they need to re-do their pricing structure.  My Caesar dog was more expensive than the ABLT which included bacon and avocado and tomatoes…all of which are pricier raw ingredients than romaine, packaged croutons, Caesar dressing and a sprinkle of cheese.

Overall…I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 forks.

+ 0.5

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