Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The DogHouse Diner

1185 Scenic, Suite 153

Herculaneum, Mo!/pages/Herculaneum-MO/The-Doghouse-Diner/192860966412?v=wall

We spotted this place a few weeks ago, it shares a parking lot with La Pachanga, the mediocre Mexican restaurant we recently visited. DogHouse is of course a hot dog diner, specializing in ‘Chicago style’ hot dogs.

The Place:

The diner boasted one entire customer as we went in. The place was shiny, bright and crisp. Brightly painted red and yellow walls, the color of a hot dog, or catsup and mustard. The floor consisted of thick and broad brown stone tiles. The tables and chairs were new, stylish and black as were the bar and stools. Around the walls were scores of framed posters and magazine ads harking back to an early optimistic America. There was one TV screen a modern flat panel set to the old TV show channel, ‘I Love Lucy’ was on.

We chose our seats at a table along the wall. It was a tight fit. We’re not huge people but there was not a lot of elbow room. These tables were designed for two, arranged for four.

The menus were simple sleeved one sheeters with hot dogs, burgers and sides featured on one side, pizzas and salads on the other. We were asked about drinks, Angel asked for a Diet Coke and was informed that they only served Pepsi products. She switched to tea. Adam ordered a Pepsi, and I, of course also asked for tea.

The Food:

We scanned the menu, asking for a bit more time. There were no pictures to guide us. Though the diner boasts fifteen types of hot dogs, in reality they offer the same all-beef hot dog with a dozen or so variations of toppings. Chili, cheese, onions, relish, pickle spears, slaw, etc. The sides were billed as appetizers and there was a large selection, waffle fries, onion rings fried cauliflower, pickles, even mini burritos.

Angel ordered a chili dog, Adam and I had picked one called a ‘Miss Lou’ Angel and Adam went for the waffle fries, I got the onion rings.

The Miss Lou was basically a chili dog with cheese. Adam ordered his without onions, which in my mind made it NOT a Miss Lou.

As we sat waiting with our drinks Adam blew a straw wrapper at his mother. I decided to get in on the fracas but discovered that Adam had already taken my straw. A horrific fight ensued. He remarked that I don’t use a straw, ever, which in his defense is true. Ever since that terrible incident with a cup of very hot cup of coffee, I equate straws with searing, hellish pain. Still, just because I don’t use a straw doesn’t mean it becomes public domain. I shut him down completely by scooping up all the wrappers. If I can’t have fun, nobody can.

The tea was completely tasteless. Enough so that even Angel commented on its weakness.

The dogs arrived very quickly, even before the fries and rings. The dogs were served in brown resin salad bowls. There was no paper lining the bowl, which we’ll discuss at length later.

The frank was fat and pink, but not as long as the bun. The bun itself was a letdown. It was a garden variety grocery store white-bread bun, exactly like the cheap ones you give kids for lunch. The chili seemed different; it was later in the meal that Angel popped the question. “Is this meatless chili with beans?” I looked closer, sure enough it looked like canned chili without the meat. Brown sauce with beans. This struck us as odd since when we usually have chili on a hot dog it is bean-less with meat. I had never even heard of meatless chili with beans. Not that it was bad, it had very little taste at all, and mine was lukewarm to tepid, while the frank itself was steamy hot.

The all-beef frank they served was billed as being ‘not available in grocery stores, shipped in from Chicago’. Fine, that’s nice, but they tasted like old fashioned all beef franks, nothing really unique.

The cheese and onions were also mere grocery store fare.

The waffle fries turned out to be the high point of the meal. The onion rings were fine, but the fries were especially good.

As the meal progressed my bun started to dissolve into a thick, gloppy paste. As the frank cooled it’s taste shifted slightly to not-so-good. The chili which started out barely above room temperature had cooled even more.

It was not disgusting, but it was disappointing. We finished up and once again Angel took care of the ugly financials. I decided to say nothing about the meal so as not to taint opinion. It didn’t take long for Angel and Adam to express their opinions, Adam said it best. “We could have had the same thing at home.”

Maybe those particular franks weren’t available in grocery stores, but some that taste pretty much the same are. They come in packages of ten and you can usually get them on sale for about a buck. After that add whatever mustard, onions and cheese you have in the fridge, nuke some canned chili, and voila! You’ve got pretty much the same meal.

Angel re-mentioned the odd chili and agreed with Adam. She added that we could have done it considerably cheaper at home as well.


Nearly thirty damn dollars. Three hot dogs, three sides, a Pepsi and two glasses of brown water. The bill was actually twenty six and change but with the merit based tip of two dollars, close enough. Too much for not so much.

We even discussed simple ways to improve the experience. Angel brought up the lack of paper in the hot dog bowls. I griped about the bun, and how a slightly better bread would have made it much better or even if they just toasted them they wouldn’t have turned into paste. And how about this, something, ANYTHING that was unique or fancy or original. “I wonder if their hamburgers are any good.” Angel queried. I responded that that was irrelevant as they billed themselves as a hot dog diner so it didn’t matter how good their hamburgers were. We spoke a bit about their lack of marketing savvy. They have no web site, though they do have a Facebook page with only thirty friends, which does not even include a menu.

I really, really wanted to like this place, I liked the idea of a gourmet hot dog diner. What we got was near gourmet prices for common food We really couldn’t recommend those place except to someone who specifically wanted a hotdog and if they also happened to be in that particular parking lot. I’m being generous giving it a score of eighty. The waffle fries were good after all.

Next week: There’s a new Chinese Buffet in Festus!!!!

Dog House Diner on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.