Dog gone

Boozy and sweet: a deep-fried tequila shot at Hamdogs Restaurant.

Boozy and sweet: a deep-fried tequila shot at Hamdogs Restaurant.

Photo/Allison Young

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Open 24 hours, Hamdogs Restaurant is a bit of a mashup. Part sports bar, part diner, they have a kids menu listed next to the twice-daily happy hour drink specials. The breakfast menu is served from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. every day, the dinner and 24-hour menus are replete with comfort food staples, and there’s a meeting room available for private events. So, that’s the joint—let’s talk about the food.

We were one of three tables served at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night, so quick service wasn’t an issue. We ordered a pair of craft beers to start, a watermelon wheat ($2) and smoked stout ($6). I enjoyed the stout, not so much the watermelon. Think Jolly Rancher left to steep overnight.

My wife had a hankerin’ for some old fashioned meatloaf, while I ordered a namesake “Hot Hamdog,” a concoction of ground beef and pork rolled into a small oven-roasted loaf, topped with marinara sauce, cheese, bacon and jalapeños on a hoagie roll. However, I can’t tell you about either dish, as they’d run out of both meatloaf and Hamdogs. No Hamdogs at Hamdogs? On to Plan B.

My wife switched to chicken-fried steak with mushroom gravy, garlic cheddar mashed potatoes and a side salad ($12.99). I ordered a medium-rare pastrami bleu burger ($13.49): hamburger patty topped with thin-cut grilled pastrami, bleu cheese and red pepper mayo on a sesame seed bun, with battered onion rings. I couldn’t decide between appetizers, so I ordered two and figured I’d take leftovers home: Scotch eggs ($7.99): hard boiled eggs wrapped in Italian sausage, breaded, fried and served with mustard sauce, and stuffed mushrooms ($9.99): crab and cream cheese stuffing, beer battered and deep fried.

The eggs were hot and relatively tasty, with the sauce likely a mix of mayo and brown mustard. Not bad at all. The mushrooms suffered from their own moisture with zero hint of crab. Anyone who’s worked with 'shrooms should know to pre-cook them before stuffing and frying. White mushrooms may look dry but they hold a lot of moisture, and it didn’t take long for those battered morsels to become a soggy mess on the plate. Gross.

My wife’s fried cube steak was well seasoned and tender. The spuds had a ton of garlic—I could smell the plate on its way to our table—yet no discernible cheese. The dish was topped with brown gravy and … raw mushrooms. Raw, sliced mushrooms just tossed on top of the gravy in plain sight. They weren’t undercooked—they were raw. Still, my wife ate and mostly enjoyed it and said maybe the cook is new. Yeah—new to cooking, maybe. Who knowingly serves raw mushrooms on anything other than salad?

Which brings us to my burger. The quarter-pound patty was so perfectly flat and round, I have to wonder if it came from a freezer. Cooked well past medium, it was at least pretty well seasoned. A couple of thick slices of room temperature pastrami were laid on top of the patty, and a lump of crumbled cheese finished it. No hint of mayo, red pepper or otherwise. On the side were a pair of mushy tomato slices and an iceberg leaf that looked sat upon. I requested ranch dressing to go with the four onion rings on my plate. One tablespoon of ranch cost 75 cents. But, with the addition of the mustard sauce from the appetizers, the flavors of pastrami and burger were quite good.

For dessert, we shared a deep fried tequila shot ($6): cubed angel food cake soaked in tequila and lime, deep fried for seconds, served in a shooter rimmed with salt. It was boozy, sweet, and I’m glad we shared.

The place is new, and we guessed someone was in training. Maybe next time I’ll get to find out what a Hamdog tastes like.