Friday, April 12, 2013

Tube Steak Revue: Happy Dog

Gravy and cheese tots, truffled mustard and feta dog with garlic aioli dip.
Unidentified meat parts. Tube steak. Greasy pink meat rod. Lips and... you get the point.

Well, "unidentified" is now "chic" (at least when it's "head to tail" or "fifth quarter" or other names for what is traditionally considered offal).

George Hormel was a practical man, and some might even consider his call to can "everything but the squeal" as patriotic - or at least frugal.

And what is the hot dog but SPAM's greasy, salty, extruded cousin in tube form?

But has the hot dog's time come? Has it arrived? Is it as chic as it's more venerable relatives: merguez, boudin blanc, twee truffled rabbit sausages?

Thankfully not yet.

The hot dog is still the People's Charcuterie and long may she wave.

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Reportedly built on Rock and Roll.
My thoughts turn to tube steak in the spring, of course, as a food stuff that goes naturally with the national pass-time (baseball, in case you were inclined to say "watching American Idol" or "dressing up in tricorn hats and demanding a return to the Gold Standard").

For my money, a hot dog requires no accoutrement - at most a smattering of brown mustard (eg, Stadium Mustard), but I have in my old age softened my perspective.

You can even put ketchup on, if you really must.

Replace the bun with ciabatta bread? Why not?

This is America.

In America, the sky's the limit - anything goes! I'm looking at you, Chicago.

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"In Czech Republic we also like sausages!"
Cleveland's version of the Chicago Dog is less formulaic and more playful.

Well, let me step back. The "Cleveland Dog" is dog, bun, Stadium Mustard and maybe some onions. (Not to be confused with a Cleveland Po' Boy, which is a hot dog, hot sauce, onions and French fries.)

But as I said, times are changing. In this brave new world of frank exploration a place such as the west side of Cleveland's "Happy Dog" can thrive.

This is the new Cleveland Hot Dog.

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Happy Dog is a dive bar with a singular culinary focus (Blue Ribbon Meat's hotdogs or a vegan version) but a plethora of condiments. You can, if you dare, get a chili dog with Sriracha aioli, a fried egg, cilantro and feta cheese. If you think that's bizzarre then you may find the array of toppings vexing indeed.

Bacon marmalade?

Pineapple jelly?

Vegetable chow mein?

Brazilian chimichurri?

Chunky peanut butter??

And while we're at it let's slather our tater-tots with gravy and cheddar for a latter day Yankee version of poutine.

Happy dog features local and regional craft beers on tap, a full liquor bar and live music.

It's in Cleveland's Gordon Square District, so the hipsters are more gentle natured and good humored than their coastal counter parts.

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Happy Dog
5801 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio