Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Off the Map: Hold the Pickle, Hold the (Neon Green) Relish

Char Dog -- The Wiener's Circle, Chicago, IL
The Wiener's Circle

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the dawn of a new day.  A day that we had feared since our earliest childhood barbeques, our high school ventures to sports stadiums, and our New York City street cart-based munchies.

Today is the day that we became incapable of finishing a hot dog.
And Considering This Is Our Type of Go-To Restaurant, This Is No Small Development
(Though, who are we kidding?  We don't eat hot dogs from street carts).
By the time we make our twenty minute trek to The Wiener's Circle in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago, we are certain of two things: we are going to collapse, and we are going to vomit.  The order of these two enterprises remains unclear.
Is There a Doctor on the Premises?
Nevertheless, we are here now, and we are going to eat Ted Allen's Best Thing I Ever Ate REGIONAL FAVORITE if it kills us (and it just might).
Death by Hot Dog
Upon entering The Wiener's Circle, we find a completely haphazard ordering system, one that would have proved as confusing as the TSA's policy on sunscreen under normal circumstances, but now, it is much more than we can handle.
Would It Be Possible to Just Yell Our Order Inside After We Collapse on Your Picnic Tables?
When we finally manage to procure one char dog and about a gallon of water, we are practically in need of canes in order to remain upright as we escort the dog outside.
Um, Wait a Minute -- Where's the Hot Dog?!
On a poppyseed bun, we find a plethora of ingredients, none of which look like a hot dog.  Onions, pickles, a scary-looking neon green relish, tomato, peppers, and celery salt mask the whole point of this Wiener's Circle enterprise, and we are almost three bites in before we find any trace of beef flavor at all. 

And those first three bites were almost enough to make us gag.
For the Record, Gagging Is Never a Good Sign
Like the plague bringer burger and the shrimp and tomato pizzette before it, we would enjoy each of the components on this classic Chicago hot dog separately.  Together, however, The Wiener's Circle seems intent on choking its customers.  Our main issue, besides the fact that the hot dog is so overflowing that it is difficult to handle, is the pickles.  The pickles!  We love pickles!  But these pickles are excessively sour, and even worse, there are two of them.
Introducing the New Chicago Classic: The Pickle Dog
They manage to completely taint the rest of the hot dog, a problem that is compounded when our tastebuds then hit the onions and peppers (and still no hot dog itself).  And the neon green relish, which we are aware is some sort of Midwest staple ingredient but to us just looks horrifying, only serves to enhance the sour flavor of the whole endeavor.

And this circumstance is how we come to the most depressing Bucket List item of our lives: we throw out half of a hot dog.
Seriously, Where IS the Beef?!
Now, we are cutting The Wiener's Circle a bit of a break on this one, only because we did not arrive at their premises with the kindest of stomach feelings to begin with (Ginger, after all, could be seen popping Pepto left and right).  And perhaps their char dog is quite superior for a Chicago-style dog ("This would probably be 4 stars if we were from Milwaukee"), but for us, it is slowly but surely making us want to die.

To be fair, the following day, we give the char dog another try at Gold Coast Dogs downtown, and the situation is a vast improvement.
Look at That -- Real Beef!
Their hot dog holds together perfectly, it features a single pickle which does not make our lips pucker on impact, and we polish off the whole thing.
Dear Ted Allen: Wrong Choice
Whether this hot dog dichotomy is based on our preference for Gold Coast's style or on our refreshed digestive systems is not entirely clear, but we have a theory:

Blame everything on the neon green relish.

The Wiener's Circle Char Dog: 3 stars

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