About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Dog Days of Connecticut - Hot-Doggin' it, day 2 (part 4)

July 29 2011, Day two of  "The Great 2011 CT Hot Dog Tour"  continued...
(back to part 3)
Capitol Lunch
Getting hungry by now (just kidding), we headed to New Britain to visit Capitol Lunch.
 Capitol is not a lunch cart or true hotdog stand as were all the other hot dog places we'd visited so far, but a real bricks-and-mortar restaurant with indoor seating.  Not a fine dining room by any stretch of the imagination it is actually several steps down from most fast food chains' dining areas - but we're not here for the decor.
 We're here for the dogs.  This is one of those places of legendary reputation.  Founded in 1929 it has a loyal local following.  As we approached the ordering window, we didn't have to ask what type of dog they were famous for. It was right on their main sign outside and prominently displayed all over their menu board.  "Hot Dogs with the Famous Sauce".

 According to the folks at Capitol, their  Famous Sauce (always reverently capitalized) is "Made the same way Grandpa Art made it years ago, not hot, no beans; just meat and spices".  They even sell it on the side, by the pint.
Anyway, this made ordering easy.  We got a couple "with the works" and the obligatory extra kraut dog/mustard/relish as a control, and a side of onion rings just to see how they were.  Within seconds of ordering, up they popped at the pick-up station.
 [Sigh] doesn't anybody in New England use New England-style buns anymore? Well, not here, that's for sure, and they didn't toast them here either so I was prepared for another messy disaster.  To my delight, the dogs each held up well as I lifted them from the styrofoam plate (these are the equivalent to fine china at a hot dog joint).  Somebody had been paying attention in the kitchen and had actually drained the sauerkraut!  Be still my beating heart! 
And the  sauce (I mean the Famous Sauce), is apparently a bit thicker than what we'd been seeing so far as it had not soaked all into the bun. It was, however an amazing color.  Most of the sauces we'd ween had been shades of red this one was brown,  Very brown.  Dark brown to the point of almost being black.
Time for the first bite, I went for the house dog at the same time as Cynthia bit into hers. In lieu of a lengthy description, here's a picture.
 It was awful.  Like eating mud.  Weird, clove and cinnamon-scented mud.  The upside? Well, it didn't need salt!  To our credit we stuck with it and ate a few more bites before giving in to the fact that we all hated this Famous Sauce. We cleaned up our table and left in a hurry.
My score: 2 out of 10.  In all honesty, I don't even remember what the dog tasted like.  I couldn't taste it under the sauce at all and I can't remember how it was under the kraut. My best clue is that there was still some on my plate when I was done.  The onion rings were fried from frozen, the ambiance was non-existent, and their house specialty was disgusting. In talking to a friend about it, Cynthia quoted her as saying "You know, Capitol Lunch was kind of a big deal when I was in college there but that sauce is kind of scary to me now".  Amen.
By the way, for those of you who who are Capitol fans and think I'm being too harsh, I'm going to throw you a bone.  It's a big bone.  I have discovered the secret to the Famous Sauce.  It's right there on their web site and I'm going to share it with you now...
" The beginnings of Capitol Lunch didn't start with hot dogs oddly enough. The location was originally a little shoe shine shop that began to sell hot dogs to attract customers. "
 Got too much shoe polish and too few customers?  Invent a Famous Sauce for hot dogs!
The Glenwood
OK, So the whole hot dog tour isn't going all that well.  For whatever reason, we seem to be hitting all the low spots instead of the highs but nobody is talking about quitting. Ever the eternal optimists, we soldier on to our next destination:  The Glenwood Drive-in in Hamden.

The signs outside give us a boost of optimism by promising "char-broiled" dogs, something we have not yet encountered in our samples so far.   Similar to Capitol Lunch, The Glenwood is not a true hot dog stand with a walk-up window but, instead, has a dining area indoors.  This is probably a good thing because it has started to rain.
The order counter is tidy and efficiently run and we place our orders almost without thinking about it. Me: 2 dogs - one kraut, one with chili.  C&J: split a dog, kraut on 1/2 of it (yes, I'm rolling my eyes, just a bit). 
 Another encouraging sign is the condiment bar adjacent to the pick-up window.  It featured half a dozen, or more, assorted mustards, relishes, ketchup etc.
 Our orders are soon ready, we make a stop for condiments and head off to a table to eat.

 The dogs are "foot-long" dogs, grilled over an open flame until a little brown and almost bursting.  They fit the buns well and SURPRISE!!! the buns are actually New England-style AND toasted! The Glenwood is really racking up the points today!  Now for the taste testing...
 Now, is that a face that could sell hot dogs, or what?  Oh yes, happy campers all around here.  The dogs are delicious.  Plump, juicy with a very nice grill flavor.  These are, by far the best dogs we've had on this trip.  Even my chili dog was good - the meat sauce mildly spicy with a nice dose of cumin and even a few kidney beans thrown in for interest. My only regret is that I had wasted prime stomach space on some of those previous dogs and just didn't have room to finish these. They were that good.
My Rating: 9 out of 10.  Glenwood lost a point from my ideal only because of its "ambiance".  If it had been an open -air stand (never mind the rain) I think it would have been a 10.
Kelly's Kone Konection
Conveniently located adjacent to The Glenwood (actually in the same building), Kelly's Kone Konnection is, pretty obviously, an ice cream parlor. While not on the official itinerary for the trip, we couldn't resist.
 Kelly's (and yes there really is a "Kelly" at Kelly's) had about 20 flavors but I already knew what I was in the mood for.
 A small hot fudge sundae (a sign said they make their own fudge  sauce right here) with mint-chocolate chip ice cream. C&J split a small dish of caramel swirl.
 They were both good, but nothing earth-shakingly outstanding.
My score: 7 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment