Thursday, March 3, 2011

ChiDogO's A-Go-Go

It's always an interesting time entering a dining situation with someone who has such extensive experience with the food you're about to eat. Whenever we go out to eat barbecue, I'm sure Elyse (hereafter referred to as "The Expert") is extra sensitive to all of the KC-style fanboy nonsense I spout. Similarly, any time we're within an area code of a restaurant that claims it sells "authentic Chicago-style hot dogs," my impulse is to watch her closely first and see how she reacts. I might love something, but until she gives it the thumbs up, I'll keep my thoughts to myself. She grew up visiting her family on the South Side of Chi so often it sometimes seemed like she never left.

Walking into ChiDogO's then, just off of U Street, NW, my food purist radar was on high alert.

Looking at the menus variety of dogs and sandwiches - it pained me to pass on the beef sandwich, but there's always next time - we settled to split a Chicago Dog and a Chili Dog. The first thing that struck me was the fact we were getting two hot dogs for under $8. The two dogs were handed to us wrapped and in a paper bag, which The Expert informed me was the right way. So far, so good.

The dogs themselves were delicious. The cheesy Chili Dog exuded all sorts of flavor and texture without being so messy that it required being hosed down afterward. And after an evening of spending too much money on alcohol on U Street, this seems like a tremendous end note to a night out. The Expert and I both greatly enjoyed the Chicago Dog as well. She ranted and raved that THIS was the kind of Poppy-Seed bun that so many area imitators lacked. The elements (yellow mustard, green relish, chopped onions, a pickle spear, tomatoes, celery salt*, etc.) were plentiful but not overflowing, and everything tasted utterly cohesive. Because we were so hungry, the dogs disappeared in a matter of minutes, leaving only the vague recollection of a prior doubt. Did ChiDogO's live up to all of The Expert's exact specifications? No. The Expert claimed it was sprinkled with too much celery salt and said the tomato seemed a bit limp. But, then again, it's hard to imagine her finding anything suitable anywhere more than 10 miles outside of The Loop.

Therefore, we already had a positive take on the restaurant before we got up to leave. As we did, Bill, ChiDogO's manager came out to say hello to us. He'd noticed Elyse (yes, enough with the gimmick) taking pictures of our food before we ate. She does this everywhere; just one of the hazards of food blogging, I guess. It's hard not to make a scene. But I digress.

Producing his business card, Bill told us that he hoped we'd enjoy our meal and to let him know what we thought. He told us to check out the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter, and thanked us for showing interest. Now, this seems like an obvious move. It seems obvious in this day and age that if you see people (who are obviously food bloggers) sitting in your dining room, you'd want to interact with him. But I can tell you he was the first. We've never been approached, engaged, and recognized in such a way. We don't write this blog for such interactions, to be sure. We write because we love food. But encountering someone in the restaurant world who doesn't look down upon our presence in his business and, quite the opposite, thanks you for being there? It's encouraging. Maybe the city is finally starting to get wise.