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Raised in Chicago and spending much of my adult life in Connecticut with easy access to New Jersey, I know a thing or two about hot dogs. My taste is catholic, having savored with relish (and without relish) the Sonoran dogs of Tucson, the Michigans of New York’s North Country, the Coney Islands of Cincinnati and Detroit, the slaw dogs of Dixie, the bright red weenies of Maine, New York System wieners-up-the-arm in Rhode Island, and the cornucopic Italian dogs of Newark.
When I moved to South Carolina, I assumed that easy access to first-string hot dogs was something I would be giving up. I was right. The Palmetto State has many culinary virtues (BBQ, Lowcountry boil, and pimento cheeseburgers among them), however it is not hot dog heaven. Nonetheless, a handful of dedicated hot dog joints do offer a much-appreciated scratch to a peremptory wiener itch. One such place is the Olde Edgefield Dog House.
Located on Main Street next to the estimable Chef Bob’s Cafe and across from Park Row Market #1, the Dog House is a spacious one-room storefront decorated floor to ceiling with sports memorabilia – pennants, jerseys, autographed pictures – as well as a few pop culture images (Pat Boone and Elvis Presley album covers) and historical curiosities (Confederate currency). According to chef and proprietor Kenneth Patisaul, the stadium feel is right because, he says,”that’s where you want to eat hot dogs.”
There are two kinds of hot dog available: one Kenneth gets from Tennessee that he says is mostly beef with just enough pork to keep it juicy but no preservatives at all, and a larger, darker all-beef sausage. That’s the complete menu. Plus, French fries, onion rings, and potato chips. The regular hot dog, which is tender and pink and satisfying in a vintage Wrigley Field sort of way, can be had naked or as a stadium dog, meaning topped with your choice of chili, slaw, onions, cheese, and/or relish. The classic chili slaw dog configuration (aka Dixie Dog) is a remarkably understated package, the beefy chili gentle, the slaw subtle and only barely sweet. The dark all-beef sausage dog is denser, chewier, and spicier, well-abetted by sweet relish and a simple line of mustard. Both come nestled in soft, split-top buns.
Decent dogs are accompanied by very good fried things: French fries or onion rings. They’re nothing exotic to begin with, but Kenneth makes a point of frying each order when it is ordered (“I don’t like heat lamps!” he declares), so what you get is all fresh crunch and crispness.