The Random Restaurant Tour (XXXIII)

Yesterday Kish and I legged it over to the Franklinton part of town to catch a matinee performance of a play by Red Herring Productions.  We decided to do a little exploring of the area and to grab lunch, too.  We ended up at BrewDog — which was jammed for a Sunday afternoon and even had some overflow people braving the cold but sunny weather and sitting outside by a fire pit.

BrewDog would fall squarely into the gastrobrewery tranche on the restaurant spectrum.  With gastrobreweries, you never know if the focus is really on the brew, and the gastro is more of an afterthought.  I’m happy to report that while BrewDog is clearly serious about its beer — it offers 48 options on tap for its thirsty patrons — it doesn’t give short shrift to the food part of the menu.

I was interested in something lighter than a burger, and the BrewDog menu offers an array of solid non-burger choices.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a hot dog and, well, BrewDog does have “dog” in its name, so I tried the bacon chipotle dog.  It was excellent.  The dog was juicy and beefy, with just the right snap when you bite into the casing, and the toppings added lots of great flavor and texture.  After carefuI analysis, I decided the best and least messy way to attack the dog was from the top. I needed two bites to get fully through each segment of the dog and the toppings, with the first bite taking care of the toppings and part of the dog and the second bite polishing off the rest of the dog and the bottom of the bun.  The fries were great, too — nice and crunchy.

It was a very satisfying meal, indeed, and the transitioning Franklinton area, where new ventures are next door to old-time welding shops, is an interesting setting.  BrewDog is well worth a visit.

Tube Steak Follies

Food & Wine magazine, recognizing that we have entered the height of the outdoor grilling season, has published an article about their taste test of the best hot dogs out there.  The article raves about a hot dog that “tastes like steak.”

f5xdfnkThe article says that the Kansas City Cattle Company Uncured Wagyu Beef Hot Dog — which is a mouthful in itself — will change grilling forever.  It explains:  “The umami! The spice! The beefiness! It was basically like eating a steak in a bun, or an elevated “tube steak,” if you will. The flavor had real depth and smoky undertones, and the texture and color (darker, more brown than red) was different than most hot dogs—in a good way.”

It’s nice to know that American food producers have finally developed a tube steak that tastes like a steak — it’s another sign of the rapid progress being made by human civilization, I suppose — but I’m a little disturbed about the apparent migration of identifiable tastes from one food to another.  After all, if you’re looking to have a hot dog, don’t you want it to taste like a hot dog?  A traditional grilled hot dog, in the right outdoor setting, perhaps with a ball game going on in front of you, can be better than a steak.  Don’t we want to keep food tastes in their proper place?  What’s next?  A hot dog that tastes like a cheeseburger or carrot cake?

Plus, as the 2020 election draws closer, we’re heading into the politician hot dog-eating season.  I don’t want Joe Biden and the other candidates out there to take a big bite of a dog and do a spit take when they taste steak instead.

Mascot Liability

In an interesting ruling, the Missouri Supreme Court held yesterday that a spectator at a Kansas City Royals baseball game could get a new trial on a lawsuit against the team for an injury he suffered at a game in 2009.  According to the allegations in the case, the fan was hit in the eye by a wrapped hot dog thrown into the stands by the Royals’ mascot, Sluggerrr.  The lawsuit further alleges that the incident caused the fan to experience a detached retina and required him to undergo two surgeries to try to repair the damage.

In Missouri, as in many other states, the “baseball rule” applies to fans who go to a professional sports event.  Teams are protected from claims for injuries arising from the inherent risks involved in watching the event in person — like the possibility that a foul tip might come your way.  The Missouri Supreme Court said, however, that a hot dog thrown by a mascot is not an inherent risk — and thus the “baseball rule” doesn’t apply.

Some legal observers say the decision might cause sports teams to reassess their use of mascots, like Sluggerrr.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  I despise lame, furry, meaningless mascots and deeply regret how they have assumed increasingly prominent roles in virtually every sporting venue.  When I was a kid, the organist would play between innings at a ball game, and you could have a conversation and eat some peanuts; now every spare moment is cause for loud music, stupid contests, and idiotic mascots firing cheap t-shirts into the stands and engaging in other antics.  If the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision about Sluggerrr and his hot dog have brought that appalling era to a close, the judicial system has done a very good thing for society.

The Summer Grilling Report

For those of us who associate summer with grilled cheeseburgers eaten on the back patio, brace yourselves:  beef prices recently hit a record and are expected to remain at high levels indefinitely.

The causes seem to be Mother Nature, the domino effect, and the law of supply and demand.  There have been sustained droughts in the cattle-herding states, which makes feed more expensive.  More expensive feed has caused ranchers to cut back on the size of their herds.  And smaller herds mean fewer cattle available to be converted into those steaks, and burgers, and roasts that Americans relish.  With the supply of beef diminished, the price inevitably increases.

Don’t expect to find cheap relief for your beef craving at the local restaurant, either.  They’ve been hit as hard by the spike in prices as anyone.  And don’t be surprised if other meats are more costly — with beef prices hitting the pocketbooks hard, consumers will be looking for alternative meats like chicken and pork to slap on the grill, and the increased demand is causing an increase in those meats, too.

There’s nothing quite like a piping hot, melted cheeseburger straight from the grill on a summer’s day.  This year, though, we may be making do with hot dogs.

Savoring Stadium Mustard — And A Browns Win

Stadium mustard is the best mustard there is — thick and and brown and spicy, with a nice little kick — and it tastes even better in a stadium.  Today, Russell and I were up in ice-cold Cleveland Browns Stadium to watch the Browns take on the Steelers, and we had to get some stadium dogs and some crinkle cut fries.  The $9.50 price tag put a dent in the wallet, but we were there to root on the Brownies and you just have to eat a dog before you can root for the Dawgs.

As good as the Stadium mustard was, the game itself was even better.  The Browns beat the Steelers for the first time since 2009 and one of the few times since Cleveland came back into the NFL in 1999.  It was a tough, hard-hitting game in which the Browns forced 8 turnovers, the rhythm of the game was destroyed by constant penalties, and the Browns offense was unable to put the game away despite repeated opportunities.  Still, a win is a win is a win, and lately any win over the Steelers is a win worth savoring — with a little mustard, of course.