Friday, July 22, 2011

V. Richard's - The "Good Dog"

This week my bride and wife of 36 years, the lovely Caroline, pointed out to me an ad in the News for V Richard’s that featured their hot dog. Robert and I got in touch with each other Wednesday morning (our default day to do these excursions) and quickly agreed on her suggestion of an obviously “upscale” destination, V Richard’s.

This place is located on Clairmont Avenue, just east of the Highland Golf Course. I’ve heard of V. Richard’s for years but have never gone there. It is a grocery store/gourmet shop/wine shop/deli/salad/sandwich/hot dog server right in the Forest Park – Avondale area; and is close enough for many to get to at lunchtime without taking extra time.

I don't know how I got a picture without all the salad eaters there, but this is the ordering area.

When we arrived we took a look around at all the interesting items for sale. There are definitely some uncommon items in the inventory here, not to mention an award-winning selection of cheeses. When we finally decided to try to order we found a long row of people along a glass showcase in the back of the store. This assembly of people seemed to have a destination at the far right end where the cashier is located. We asked one of the guys with this group and found out that most of these people were waiting to order and be served a salad (AKA rabbit food). We were thankfully directed toward the cashier to place our orders for non-salad items. I will restrain myself from commenting on why so many people wanted salad rather than real food.

So, we placed our orders for the prominently displayed “Good Dog”. The Good Dog is a quarter pound, all beef hot dog, on a “made from scratch bun”, topped with “sirloin chili” and “house cheese sauce” served with an order of fries. Although it’s not listed as an ingredient it also comes with a very light application of chopped onion. The obvious missing ingredient is mustard. The chili is outstanding and is made using tender chunks of beef, presumably sirloin, rather than the usual ground beef. The cheese sauce is definitely not the usual yellow “nacho cheese” gummy sauce/topping. When served it appears to be simply melted white cheese applied to the hot dog. Robert and I agree that it would be better with a little mustard. That is easily remedied since they have available the usual fast food type of little plastic pouches of mustard.

After we ordered we moved toward the dining area along the front side of the building. We discovered that the tables inside were taken, so we went outside to the deck overlooking the patio. For some reason nobody was dining on the patio in 90-plus degree weather and even the covered deck didn’t have too many occupants. We soon observed some tables inside being vacated, so we also moved in to the air conditioned dining room before our food was served. Yes, call us wimps; but we were more comfortable.

I’ve already given the official description of the “Good Dog”; so I’ll make some comparisons. Hot dogs like this are a little different from the usual hot dog stand offering. At first they appear to cost a little more; but that is often an illusion due to the high prices charged for sides and drinks at many places. The immediate comparisons we made were to Broad Street Deli, Max’s and Johnnie Rocket’s. These places also serve high end dogs that are comparable. They tend to have things in common but are all big dogs. What can I say: this one is another one. It is good, but nothing to motivate rave reviews. The dogs at V Richards are definitely filling and taste good; but are also definitely hard to eat. I don’t know where to lay the blame; but the bottom of the bun tends to dissolve or give way. This could be due to the very big weenie, or the moisture of the toppings, or even the design of the “made from scratch bun”. Regardless, this dog is hard to eat without resorting to a knife and fork. Hey, that’s not necessarily bad, especially when you are sitting at a table. It sure beats the “pencil weenies” served at some places.

Bottom line; give the “good dog” a try. Take the time to look around the store while you’re there. You can even stand in line to get a salad if you are so inclined. Somehow I don’t see many readers of a hot dog blog choosing a salad rather than the good dog.

Woof Woof.

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