Hot Dog Heaven…

So, for the past year I have been toying with the idea of doing a hot dog tour of Connecticut.  We have so many great places that I could review and compare and I know that everyone would have a distinct memory of some of these old established joints in the state just like I do.  Fun, right?  Well I’ve decided to make it a reality.  However, I didn’t come to this epiphany by having a great long dog at Glenwood or by visiting Super Duper Weenie and having all those great homemade toppings, no.  I came to this necessary revelation by going to a completely new join in Wallingford called Knuckleheads.

Both Jay and I grew up in Wallingford and are in the area quite a bit, so when new places open, we usually notice.  Jay was the first to see that a new restaurant was going in in the downtown area with a funky name.  Not long after, my friend Beth and her husband Kevin raved about the place on Facebook.  Now I take their opinions very seriously because they are fellow foodies.  Beth even has her own cupcake business out of her house in Wallingford called Simply Sweet (check her out she makes amazing stuff).  So, with these glowing reviews in my head, along with finding out that this place has a serious relationship with a smoker and a deep fryer, I was game for a visit.

We showed up on a Saturday night around dinner time, with AC in tow.  When we walked in I had a good feeling about the place right off the bat.  They have this great kind of biker-ish décor and a big framed picture of Anthony Bourdain that says “Cook Free or Die”.  Awesome.  The room was a bit smaller than I had thought with only about 15 tables or so and a counter with a large cooler behind it that housed a pretty impressive selection of micro brews.  The boards displaying the specials and the beers were fun and funky and the staff was smiling and welcoming from the start.  We waited a few minutes for a table but were assured it wouldn’t be long.  The place was packed.  While we were standing there, one of the older gentlemen, who I’m assuming maybe was one of the owners took pity on AC and brought him out a little cup of french fries.  This was the first sign of a good night to come.  I think you can judge a lot from a place by the way they treat kids.  He was a really funny older Italian man that told us that it’s easier to please the adults, the kids are harder to get.  How true.

We were seated shortly after and looked over the perfectly sized menu.  It’s not huge with a million choices and pages to overwhelm you, but has just enough to give everyone an option and to leave you wanting to come back again to try something else.  They also constantly have specials that are really out of bounds with items like deep fried risotto balls and Irish “nachos” made with tater tots.  It’s a cardiologist’s nightmare but Guy Fieri would be proud.  Since it was my first experience here, I really wanted to try the hot dogs.  You see, this place treats their dogs in a unique and totally evil way.  They wrap them in bacon and then deep fry them.  Yes, it’s awful and wonderful all in the same breath.  I’m intrigued, and totally in love.  Obviously this is not for the faint of heart, and not for an everyday affair, but to splurge is to live, and I’m never more alive than when I’m eating something new and exciting.  I picked 2 dogs that I felt I couldn’t leave without trying, the “Red Eye” and “The Moose Dog”.  The Red Eye is a “Bacon wrapped dog with a fried egg and cheese”.  As far as I’m concerned this is the breakfast of champions and I had to have it.  The Moose Dog is a “Bacon wrapped dog with cream cheese and thai chili sauce” some of you might know this as Siracha.  I have a very personal relationship with the spicy red sauce and I never pass up an item on a menu that has it featured.

The Red Eye was pretty much exactly what you expect.  The hot dog comes with a nice light and almost flaky bun that is slightly griddled on the outside with the beautifully browned bacony dog in the middle and the fried egg cut in half and nestled in with the dog and some good old American cheese.  It is like a breakfast sandwich on steroids.  It’s the ultimate late night food that you crave after a good night with some drinks and friends.  Forget the Diner, go to Knuckleheads.

I have to admit though that the Moose Dog was my favorite.  It has the same toasty bun and deep fried dog, but along the bottom of the bun is a good smear of soft cooling cream cheese.  It’s then topped with a healthy zigzag of Siracha sauce.  This was definitely a case where you had to create the perfect bite and look like a total tool doing it.  You absolutely HAD to get all of the flavors and textures together, so you open your mouth super wide and bite the whole thing from top to bottom.  Totally un-ladylike.  Good thing I already snagged a husband or I might be in trouble.  Between the salty crunch of the hot dog with the bacon and that super creamy cheese that tempers the heat from the sauce it was just freaking spot on.  I think I devoured that one without even making Jay taste it.

AC had chicken fingers and more french fries to his delight.  Jay ordered the BBQ Brisket sandwich which is “Beef brisket house smoked for 15 hours” topped with either their honey BBQ or their spicy bourbon BBQ sauces and cole slaw.  The Brisket I will say is probably some of the best I have ever had.  It was super smoky with a deep pink smoke ring and extremely thin and tender.  Jay chose the Spicy Bourbon BBQ sauce and it was awesome.  You could taste the woodiness of the bourbon but you also had a nice medium heat that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the meat itself.  I highly recommend it.  Jay also says the pulled pork sandwich is awesome, apparently they order often for lunch at work.  I have to admit if I worked closer, I probably would too!

All in all, this place reinvigorated my blogging desires and made me WANT to tell you all about the great food here.  The staff was awesome, the food divine, and the atmosphere was fun and welcoming.  They obviously had regulars and some family that were there and it was just what you expect the vibe to be in a small local place.  We will be returning for sure, there are several more items on the menu that I definitely have to try.  I hear the burgers and wings are just as rock star as their heavenly dogs.  So, get out there, bring your appetite, and support a great little local joint doing simple food that is kicked up to the next level and doing it right…

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