Remember when Billy Mack's Coney Shak [sic] opened up on Ingersoll a few years back? Excited for a new eatery in my old neighborhood, but puzzled about the wisdom of opening up a “Coney Shak” four blocks down from the ever-popular Ted’s Coney Island, I popped in to check out their seemingly impressive menu of “Coneys.”
I ordered up a Coney with cheese and onions. Alas, cheese and onions were the only thing on this “Coney.” As anyone from Des Moines, or Detroit, or parts in-between [see blog post] can tell you, a Midwestern “Coney” is a hot dog topped with an all-meat sauce of varying spices and degrees of moisture.
The dog was okay, but aside from returning one more time to scope out breakfast, I kept my business with Ted’s [see blog post]. Billy Mack’s hung on for awhile, but eventually succumbed to lack of business.
With all the building expectations for Capital Pub and Hot Dog bursting in on the food scene in town, I was hopeful but a little hesitant at what I might find.
Alas, I’ve not a single reason to exclaim “Alas.”
On a not-so-sweltering August afternoon I waltzed over to Capital Pub and Hot Dog, located at the corner of S.E. Sixth and Raccoon, just north of the East M.L.K. extension. For my initial bite I went with … yup … the Coney.
First the Coney sauce is not so much a Greek-style chili, but more like some divine crock-pot beefburger concoction. Topped on a big, meaty, 100% beef Klement's (of Milwaukee) hot dog, nestled in a study, moist bun, the Coney is a lot to take on. Add to that a blizzard of chopped yellow onion (the smell of the onions alone is intoxicating), a pickle spear, and a copious zig-zag of mustard across the whole width of the sandwich. A seriously messy nosh. I’d tell you to eat it with a knife and fork, but where’s the fun with that? Keep the napkins handy.
After a brief rest I next tried the Chicago dog. First drizzled with mustard, then loaded with a generous pile of yellow onion, diced tomato, and nuclear-green sweet relish. Finished with a pickle spear and dashes of celery salt, and all this on a poppy seed bun. Alas... Aw, dammit! ...no sport peppers. An oversight by a harried cook? Not at all. Just a delay in procuring said ingredient. All in all, an impressive vegetal bite. I look forward to the finished product.
Onward I pressed toward my third and final dog for the day, the Heart Attack. With a dog wrapped in bacon, then crisped in a fryer, the Heart Attack is simply adorned with an extrusion of softened cream cheese. It looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost pinched a long, thin one.
Oh, but what’s not to like about the Heart Attack, besides shortness of breath and blindness? Compared to the loaded dogs settling down in my gullet, this sandwich is deliciously simple. The cream cheese distracts not from the bacon, nor the bacon from the wiener. Even the bun gets an opportunity to take the stage. With all these familiar, comforting flavors going on it's like a State Fair in my mouth, minus the fried Twinkie and butter-on-a-stick.
Once I recover from the three-quarter pound mass of animal flesh trudging through my digestive tract, I look forward to future visits and more of the Capital’s imaginative dogs. Also there’s the Homewrecker, a half-pound dog with your choice of two toppings. I’ll opt for jalapeños and wasabi, cos’ I’ll need all the help I can get to work that baby through.
On my second visit I was intent on taking on the half-pound Homewrecker dog, but decided against the weighty pup for a couple of regular size quarter-pound dogs.
First up was the Mobayashi. The siracha mayonnaise starts off light but gets zestier with subsequent bites. A generous gob of cream cheese softens the zing, as well as the cool, crisp chunks of cucumber. A light coating of tempura batter adds a nice crisp to the frank. The otherwise fiery punch of wasabi is restrained in a creamy application. You get a taste, but not enough to clear your sinuses. I would have like that.
The Maddog is a zippy dog indeed, however the “nuclear sauce” wasn't the hottest thing I put in my mouth on this visit. The affable barkeep gave me a taste of Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce and that pretty much superseded anything the Maddog could dish out. I do appreciate the abundant crushed red pepper encrusting the frank. I love the flavor and the wee crunch it imparts. Cream cheese again tones down the heat, but not nearly enough for delicate palates. Accompanying planks of carrot and celery seemed gimmicky at first but are a welcome nosh after consuming such spicy fare.
Since my last visit, sport peppers for the Chicago dog have been acquired. Trade in the diced tomatoes for sliced, and you’d have as close to a real Chicago dog as you can get this side of Aurora.
Finally getting the opportunity to tackle the aptly named Homewrecker, I ordered one with blue cheese and Capital's nuclear sauce, with a side of waffle fries. The surprisingly creamy nuclear sauce is equally hot and flavorful, the pungent blue cheese was abundant, and the half-pound all-beef hot dog was appropriately meaty. Seasoned waffle fries filled the remaining gaps in my belly very nicely. On my return, I'd like to load up one of these bad boys with chili, cheese and onions. You might want to avoid me for a day or so afterward.