Friday, August 26, 2011

Gus's in Crestline

The conscientious reader of this blog (Is there one?) will know that I particularly like the unexpected. This week we encountered the unexpected again. Gus’s (The Original Gus’s Hot Dogs) in Crestline is where we encountered “the unexpected”. So, what was unexpected? The sauce!!!

There are lots of hot dog sauces out there; many are very similar. Every hot dog stand wants to have a sauce that is a little different from all the others while being similar.

Gus’s in Crestline has succeeded in doing that in a way that we haven’t encountered before. The sauce at Gus’s is thick, very thick and full of flavor. This is worth a special trip to try it.

Let’s back up a little. When we arrived at Gus’s we stopped outside to take a couple of pictures. We were surprised to find that the proprietor, Ernie Gerontakis, came out and was commenting on the external appearance of his shop. Throughout our visit we observed Ernie continuing to interact with all of his customers. I think this is a key to his quality. This guy really wants his customers to enjoy their food and makes an effort to make sure that has been their experience.

I will confess that occasionally we have a report or past experience that somewhat turns us off from a place. That was the case here; we avoided Gus’s for months due to a report of an unusually long wait one day when Ernie wasn’t there. How wrong we were! This place is definitely a top tier hot dog stand in Birmingham.

Somebody really captured this guy in a drawing.

Ernie is a hands-on owner operator who is committed to serving a good product. He is also a heck of a nice guy; talk with him when you are there. He is a long-time player in the Birmingham hot dog scene.

So, what did we have? Our usual initial order, a hot dog all the way and a chili dog. The hot dogs are great with their unique sauce. I’d say the thick sauce easily places Gus’s of Crestline’s “Regular” dog into the top dogs we’ve tried. Chile dogs are mild but good especially after you add a little red pepper. We also had a corn dog which Ernie apologized for since it wasn’t his usual product. After talking with us he insisted on serving us a slaw dog. Robert and I split one and thoroughly enjoyed it. They use a sweet slaw that would not be the choice for either of us as we would tend toward “sour slaw”, but theirs is good on a hot dog. All of our dogs were served hot, not just warm. This is better than many others do and shows an attention to detail. We ended up having four different items and agreed that our hands down favorite was the regular dog, all the way.

Regarding corn dogs: Fresh, hand dipped corn dogs are wonderful; like you get at the fair. There is actually a brand name for those; “Pronto Pups”. It’s a shame that there isn’t enough demand for fresh corn dogs for someone to prepare fresh, hand dipped, never frozen, corn dogs. I would sure like to find a corn dog that didn’t come out of the freezer.

I can’t wrap up this report of Gus’s without commending Ernie for his choice of ice for the drinks. I once tried to find a modestly priced ice maker that makes ice like this. I found that it is called “flake ice” and the machines that make it are very expensive, too expensive for me to buy for home use. They don’t make a junior/small model. Regardless, this ice is perfect for those who enjoy chewing/eating the ice after the drink is gone.

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