May 212011
 

It has only been a few short months since the New York Dawg Pound popped up on Shawnee Mission Parkway like a beacon, shining through the darkness of the economic downturn.

Exterior

There are a few places around town to get a good hotdog: Dog Nuvo, Pizza Man, Clay’s Curbside Grill and some other joints that dish out a serviceable sausage of one kind or another. This places focuses on hot dogs; with the variety of specialty restaurants that seem to pop up daily around town, this was no surprise. In fact I’m surprised in didn’t happen sooner.

Actually it did happen sooner at a little joint called Relish that closed before I could eat there. If specialty hot dogs can’t survive in Westport, can they make it in a nondescript shack on a busy suburban thoroughfare?

Yes they can.

Stop by the Dawg Pound at noon on a weekday and see if you don’t find the joint hopping. It’s not exactly Oklahoma Joe’s but it’s clear that these guys are doing a very good business these days. And why not? They offer a varied but manageable menu of fancified hot dogs and a few sides for very reasonable prices.

Exterior

This place is hard to see from the street, even if you are looking for it. It lies is a free-standing building just east of Sobahn Korean restaurant and sort of across from Parkway Liquors.

Interior

The counter operation works well. You order from one person who compiles your dog, placing it on either a plain or poppy seed bun and topping it with anything from cheese sauce to peanut butter. A second employee asks about your choice of sides: fries, cole slaw, onion straws or sweet potato fries make up the heart of the choices.

By the time you get to the end of counter and pay for your lunch, a tray of deliciousness is delivered. Drinks, straws, napkins, utensils are all a self-service operation. They even have dispensers for the plasticware. Be sure to grab plenty of napkins because this food is seriously messy.

Utencil dispenser

The “Bulldog,” topped with chili, cheese sauce, mustard and onion proved to be one of the most frustrating things I have ever eaten, as the bottom of the bun disintegrated, causing the dog to slide around like a greased pig.

Dog w/ Chili, Cheese, Mustard & Onion

But I conquered that greased pig and while I found the cheese to be somewhat overwhelming, I enjoyed it a great deal.

Dog w/ Chili, Cheese, Mustard & Onion

I don’t recommend the onion straws as a side dish. They are simply too insubstantial to eat effectively, and the greasiness lent by a mouthful of the things can be unpleasant. The onion straws work much better as a judiciously applied topping, such as on the “Ol’ Blue,” accompanied by BBQ sauce and a dill pickle spear.

Ol' Blue

I also enjoyed this dog, but wish that they would use Gates sauce rather than the run of the mill, generic tasting sauce. It would be a nice local tie-in and would taste even better.

The “Spike” is probably my favorite specialty dog on the menu. It features sauerkraut, spicy mustard and “onions in sauce” which are slightly sweet sauteed onions in a mysterious reddish liquid.

The "Spike"

The Dawg Pound also offers bratwurst, Italian sausages and a veggie dogs which cab be prepared with any of the toppings. I tried the brat with the “Spike” preparation and found it just as good as before, though the sausage itself was a little mild in flavor for my taste.

Brat

The fries here are solid, likely a higher quality frozen product. For 2 bucks you’ll get a cute little paper bag full of the things. I opted for the Asian-style cole slaw one day and found it a little under-flavored, but still a respectable accompaniment to a good hot dog.

The interior is bright but no frills, simply a sea of tables occupied by smiling, hungry suburbanites. The floor has been stripped and treated in a weird way, causing it to be a little sticky. A minor complaint I know, but it always feels like someone spilled Coke underfoot.

Interior

Generally this place has good vibes, I think because the owners enjoy themselves. They are both friendly guys and it comes through in the oeuvre of the restaurant. One day during lunch a customer led the entire restaurant in singing “Happy Birthday” to his wife. At another joint this may have been an annoyance, but at the New York Dawg Pound it’s just par for the course.

New York Dawg Pound on Urbanspoon

Jerry’s Cafe: 1209 West 103rd St.

 Posted by at 2:24 am
Feb 242011
 

I consider it a personal failure never to have visited Jasper’s or its lowbrow sister, Marco Polo down at 103rd and State Line road. This is a part of town with a number of nearby office buildings, medical facilities and a major metropolitan highway. Yet lunch options are a little thinner than one would expect. Certainly Marco Polo, Gates, Fritz’s Sausage and Guadalajara come to mind, but little else beside chains and a few nondescript sports grills and Chinese places serve to sate the presumed hordes of corporate lunchers.

So I set my sites on lunch at Marco Polo, but was quickly distracted by a sign for Jerry’s Cafe virtually next door. My lunch plans quickly changed.

Exterior

Charles Ferruzza wrote a piece for the Pitch back in November about this plain little diner owned by the former proprietor of the Woodswether Cafe, a seriously interesting joint with great diner food. It had almost slipped my mind, despite being thrilled that Jerry had found another culinary outlet.

The dining area is small, plain and pretty boring except for a stupefying Pulp Fiction-themed mural along one wall which depicts Jules and Vincent holding a burger and fries, respectively. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen the film that I can’t recall of this is a reference to a specific scene or just a curious general homage.

Interior

Two signboards rest in the front window advertising daily specials. The specials were identical on each of my visits so I suspect they are more or less permanent options.

Specials

As you can see, prices are pretty reasonable, especially considering the size of the portions. I ate a reuben ($6.99) that was so a large and sloppy that I had a hard time finishing it. I did eat it all, ultimately, instead opting to leave quite a few fries on my plate. While hand cut and freshly fried they were entirely too waxy, dense and limp for my tastes. I suspect they were not fried twice, which can be fine as my friends at the Snak Shack tell me, but it requires a specific cooking method. At any rate, the fries at Jerry’s were disappointing.

Frozen fries are so prevalent because good, hand-cut french fries are not easy to prepare. As more and more restaurants serve the real deal we are bound to encounter some less than stellar versions of the glorious fried potato.

Reuben and fries

On my next visit I ordered onion rings which were great, although I couldn’t tell if they were hand-dipped or not. Jerry uses the cracker-style coating which I normally don’t prefer but these were tasty rings.

Oh did I mention I had a Chicago style hot dog? Hell yeah, it’s damn near authentic and may be the best one in town. Someone tell KC Napkins guy!

Chicago dog

This dog is no shrinking violet, it’s of sufficient size to make you blush, extending an inch or so from either end of the bun. It’s an all beef Vienna dog with most of the requisite toppings: neon green relish, tomato slices, sport peppers, onions and mustard. The only thing missing was the celery salt which I often forego anyway.

Chicago dog

Before my dog came out, Jerry visited my table to make sure I knew how hot the sport peppers were. Yes, I know, I assured him. Later as I was eating, he came back out to make sure I was doing ok with the sport peppers and all. I take it he gets a lot of diners who don’t like spicy food. At any rate, Jerry seemed like a nice guy and the hot dog was awesome — worth every penny of the $3.99 it set me back.

While Ferruzza had some mild complaints about the service and the table set-up, I experienced no such foibles. My servers were all very quick to the table and quick to deliver the check. Refills came without prompting. They do use flimsy napkins which is silly considering how sloppy the food can be. Make sure you get some extra ones for your meal. Also the kitchen is fast enough that you could get out of there in a half hour if you time it right.

In summary, get yourself to Jerry’s for breakfast or lunch. The joint is open Tuesday – Sunday until 3pm. No dinner here. The food is miles beyond what you will get at your average diner anywhere in the KC metro. Ignore the strip mall and enjoy your meal.

Jerry’s Cafe
1209 W. 103rd (at State Line, southeast corner)
Tues-Sunday: 6am-3pm

Jerry's Cafe on Urbanspoon