A lot of good memories involve hot dogs for me.
I remember scrambling down the street on a sunny day in Floodwood, marooned at my aunt's house while my parents were out of town, to the gas station and throwing a buck on the counter for some roller-browned wieners. As a sportswriter in Eveleth, I would routinely step up to cover milquetoast events at the Hippodrome so I could chow on the chili dogs. State tournament coverage at the Metrodome didn't start until I'd gotten a big dog - not the fake big dog, the BIG big dog only one stand sells. Now, it's the Kramarczuk's stand at Target Field and watching the Angels get creamed.
During Ducky's and my friendship, I'd roll to the Cities at least once a year and those reunions always involved a double-dog dare at the Uptown Bulldog. I'd get a stinky dog and one other, but there was always a stinky dog. Back at Ducky's place, I'd gas myself into quarantine.
That pilgrimage didn't translate to regular visitation when I moved here, however. There are reasons: I was indigent for the first years of my residency, and the new places were the new places when I took on reviewing as a hobby - but, when Ducky suggested we lunch there days before my 50th restaurant review was to be written, it was only proper I take another gaze at the first place I fell in love with.
Things have changed since my barbarian days, but it pleases me to announce the Lyndale Bulldog has still got it.
The Basics: There are two more Bulldogs, one in northeast Minneapolis and another in St. Paul. Each location has its own website; here is Uptown's. Lyndale Bulldog, I wonder what street it's on. Anyway, it's the building that looks like a jail's built into it. There's a blurb halfway down the website. You've got my permission to read it.
If Oscar Meyer has pushed hot dogs out of your favor, would it help if I mention The 'Dog's dogs are made with Vienna beef and all-natural casing? Good. I thought it might.
FRIDAY: My pretend brake pedal was getting worked like a foot pump as Duck rammed his Mercury down Lyndale. His baseline aggression, ramped by hunger, made him like Bowser in Mario Kart. If spastic speed changes and grunting turn you on, I've got a guy I'd like you to meet - but let me starve him a bit first.
Our still-intact bodies paced up the 'Dog's chilling entry ramp and stepped through the front door, into the bar from which I once owned two T-shirts. At 1 p.m., the crowd was calm and the bartender wasn't loathsome of life yet. We butted our knees against the bar and, just like old times, called in PBRs. What, your first one is free with a hot dog?! Get me a Stinky Dog RIGHT EFFING --
The Stinky Dog is no longer on the menu.
I felt my face get like Mickey's did in Snatch while his mother's caravan burned. There was gravity. It's hard when your go-to at a place you like up and leaves. It's easy when you didn't care much for the place anyway - when the alligator burger was deleted from the Joe Senser's menu, I just said "Eff this place" and moved on - but I wanted The Bulldog too much. The Stinky Dog's torch had to be picked up.
The two candidates were the Danger Dog, with the Frank wrapped in bacon and topped with onions and sriracha mayo; and the Oinker, with pulled pork and bacon bits drowning in cheese sauce. The Tillamook Burger hadn't gone anywhere, making this much easier for Ducky.
Extra points to the bartender, who recommended I ask for the Danger Dog without deep-frying the bacon and Frank. The Depot makes this mistake with their Diamond Dog. Deep-frying it takes away much more than it adds.
The meals arrived, and I lifted my potential new faves ... and you know, I think I'm gonna be okay.
One bite of the Oinker and it was OMG! First, the Bulldog's buns are soft yet sturdy - and good luck doing that with hot dog buns. The cheese sauce was thick and creamy, occasionally sticking to my lips (which I much enjoyed). The bacon and pork added a smoky, eating-at-a-cabin touch. And who doesn't like hot dogs at a cabin?! See what I mean about memories?
There is no replacement for the Stinky Dog, but the Danger Dog is a worthy heir. The sriracha mayo bit back just hard enough to make the tip of your tongue jump, but not in such a way that I would call this dangerous. HOWEVER, and this is key, the onions and mayo packed a little stank. (Nods) You know what I'm talking about.
No, it's no Stinky Dog, but this is definitely a dog I can think, "You know what, my wife ticked me off and I feel like farting her out of the bedroom tonight" and count on to get the job done.
The server was fantastic, the food came in good time, and both dogs for $10 is a deal you'd be a dummy to pass up. I don't know why I'm not here more often - I kind of know, but that St. Paul spot might be a problem solver.
I was excited to find out The Bulldog hadn't lost its step while I was away. It's still that great hangout spot that you can step into just to be someplace. It isn't built for anything but hanging out, but it's got the perfect backdrop for your next big outing and food you won't just forget.