With Fourth of July upon us, no food is associated with celebrating our nation's independence more than the all-American hot dog. Sure, the Germans invented the frankfurter, but we put it on a bun with bright yellow mustard and created the traditional hot dog.
These days, the lowbrow red hot is being lifted into the realm of culinary art, and nobody is doing more to offer a fascinating array of flavors and toppings—without being ridiculous—than in Chesterfield.
With a choice of 14 specialty dogs, it's difficult to make up your mind. Fortunately, Surf Dogs offers a sample platter with four minidogs called the Pup Sampler ($6.95), a great way to put the available styles to the taste test.
Cook Bobby Taylor said a lot of the ingredients used at Surf Dogs come from Chicago, including Vienna hot dogs and Italian beef. “It's a taste of home for me,” Taylor said. “It's the stuff I grew up on, but there's enough variety here that I don't get sick of it.”
First up was the Chicago-style dog, with mustard, onions, tomatoes, pickle, a dash of celery salt, bright green relish and another Windy City favorite, sport peppers—little chili peppers you can buy jarred and pickled in your favorite grocery store. The peppers lent a great spiciness to the frank that doesn't obliterate your palate but does make its presence known as the heat lingers in your mouth.
Capn' Misty's Italian Dog—with mozzarella, sweet peppers and marinara—sounds hideous, but actually works. The slightly sweet marinara combines with the tanginess of the sweet pepper and the creamy mozzarella to make the American version the German sausage seem Italian. It's different, but it works—if you can get past the strange taste associations.
With cheese sauce, chili and slaw, the Dog House is more mainstream. The slaw offers a little crunch for a textural change of pace. The hot dog chili is just that: Chili meant for a hot dog. It won't win any chili cook-off awards, but compliments the dog without muscling the other flavors out of the way. Call it “serviceable.”
Named for St. Louis radio personality Dave Glover, the Glover Dog was the big home run. With wing sauce, mozzarella, giardiniera—a spicy Chicago pepper relish—and sport peppers, it's hotter than the Chicago dog but still doesn't blow off the top of one's head. Although, you can order it extra hot.
Hot dogs are available individually ($3.29) or as a combo platter ($6.49) with a soft drink and your choice of fruit cup, slaw, fries or homemade chips. The chips were crisp with seasoning that was flavorful and a little on the salty side. A two-dog platter is also available ($8.49).
Another reason that it's difficult to decide what to order is the varied menu. You'll also find half-pound burgers ($6.99-$7.49), jerk chicken sandwiches, fish, pulled pork, Italian beef, Gyros, Italian sausage and more, plus salads and even dessert. Their Key Lime pie ($4.25 for a pie bar and $24.95 for a whole pie) won an award in the National Pie Championship in 2008. Sandwiches and salads run from $4.89 to $8.49, and there's a children's menu. Take out and catering are available.
They also offer special theme discount days. There's the Hang 10 club—eat all the original 10 hot dogs over time and get a free dog—and the Big Kahuna, an eating contest. Pay $25 and try to eat 10 dogs in 30 minutes. Do it and you get your picture on the wall, a T-shirt and bragging rights.
Surf Dogs is located at 137 Chesterfield Towne Centre. For more information, call 636-537-8799 or visit the Surf Dogs Grill and Key Lime Pie Company website.
Amuse Bouche Notes:
shut its doors after six years. Regulars will miss the neighborhood feel of this bar—not to mention the half-pound burgers for $4.95. Vases full of roses along the bar each bore a card to an employee thanking them for six years of service, and a free barbecue was held for all the regulars and anyone who happened by on Wednesday, the restaurant's last day. Owner John “Happy” Harris went out with class. The word is the new owners opened on Thursday under the name The Hangar.
Smashburger is coming to Chesterfield. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the nation's fastest growing chain of “better burger” restaurants will open 12 locations around the St. Louis area, with the first location slated to open in St. Charles on July 20. The second location comes to Chesterfield this fall. The chain gets its name from its cooking method—they smash the burgers on a flat top to sear in flavor.