What’s Up Dog Express

I’m not going to subject you to any cutesy beating around the bush today; What’s Up Dog Express was a depressing lunch experience. 

First off, the menu outside offered a dream-like concoction called chili cheese tots.  Why yes, that would be tater tots topped with chili and melted cheese.  I walked in to the tiny cafe salivating at the very thought.  Then I was dealt the devastating blow; tater tots in any capacity were not available at this location of What’s Up Dog, their lease prohibited the use of a deep fryer. 

I’m strong enough that this alone didn’t drop me into despair, it was the combination of my poor observation skills causing me to order the wrong thing , like I almost always do.   I would have been so happy to order a regular old hot dog and add onions, relish and sauerkraut to it.  Sauerkraut, for me, is really key.  However.  On their list of extra toppings, do you know what wasn’t there?  Sauerkraut.  I also read the description of all their special dogs, and none included kraut, so I came to the conclusion that, bizarrely, kraut was unavailable.  Later, while waiting for my lunch to be prepared, I overheard another customer order a reuben, and I realized that you can’t have a reuben without sauerkraut, looked up at the menu on the wall and saw that I had tragically neglected to check the sandwich descriptions, and that the reuben description shouted “sauerkraut!” loud and clear.  What a sad, sad day.

I couldn’t get chili cheese tots, but two out of three ain’t bad.  The chili was fine, very smooth and salty like it came from a can.  Whatever.  The guy gave me way to much cheese, I was worried it wouldn’t all melt.  It did, but still, it was too much. 

I decided to order a Chicago dog.  I’ve had them in the past and enjoyed them, they have a lot of stuff on them (peppers, relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes and celery salt) and I like a lot of stuff on my hot dogs.  Also, I really appreciate the double hit of pickles.  They really get it in Chicago.  Here at What’s Up Dog Express, not so much.  Bun – cold, all the topping stuff – cold cold cold, actual dog – warmish.  This is so not cool.  Cold toppings I get I suppose, you’re trying to keep things fresh/stay good with the health inspector…but a cold bun?  There is no excuse for that.  My goodness.  Also, I don’t know who’s lying to me, What’s Up Dog Express or every other Chicago dog I’ve ever had, but are the peppers supposed to be crazy spicy?  I know they are supposed to be “sport” peppers, but I have no idea what that means. All I know is that in the past I’ve had peppers that were at an edible level of heat, and that these peppers were not.  I’m not saying this is a negative, I’m just looking for answers. 

So the food kind of blew it at What’s Up Dog Express; and really, the thing is that I could be much happier with a hot dog from 7-11, and those are only like 2 for a dollar or something, and the buns are never cold.  What WUDE has going for it is it is actually a fairly pleasant place to sit and eat lunch, the cafe is very clean and bright and cheerfully decorated, and, on my visit at least, the one dude working there was really nice and gave me a free bottle of water (I think he felt bad about the tater tots thing).  7-11 is definitely not a pleasant place to have lunch (they generally don’t provide seating) and the people who work there are usually jerks and/or gross (just in my limited experience, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of really nice people working at 7-11s that I haven’t been to).  Still, I’d rather go to 7-11 and get salsa and nacho cheese on my hot dog and eat it on the curb like a punk.

What’s Up Dog Express

http://www.whatsupdog.com/

528 Larkin

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Jimmie Bar Ristorante

Usually we don’t go to restaurants as pricey as Jimmie here at Goldentooth.  We generally keep it in the $10 and under per entrée range.  However, Steve acquired a restaurant.com coupon for the place, we were taking a friend along to share the cost, plus it was right before Christmas, so I guess we were feeling a bit festive. 

It’s a bit odd at Jimmie.  The room is not especially large, but it feels rather vast because they don’t have tables crammed into every available space as they do at most other restaurants.  The stone tile floor makes the room feel very cold, and, combined with the openness, rather like a convention center or hotel conference room.  Which I suppose makes some sense, since Jimmie is in the Cova Hotel.  Also strange is the staff.  They are extremely attentive and polite, adding to the fine dining experience that the menu items and their prices create, however, at least while I was there, they were dressed extremely casually in jeans and untucked polo shirts.   I don’t know why, but it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. 

Well, on to the food.

We decided to order several items from the street cuisine and entrée sections of the menu to share.  First though, we had to start with some oysters.

Ugh, apologies in advance for how terrible the photos are going to be for the rest of this entry.  Anyhow, we had a dozen oysters, an assortment of whichever varieties they were offering that night.  I love oysters and am treated to them rarely, so I relished these and to me they seemed particularly delicious.  Spoiler alert, they were the best thing I ate at Jimmie. 

Next up, the green papaya salad.  (See?  Terrible photo, and they only get worse.)  Slippery threads of green papaya with dried beef and peanuts in a spicy and sweet brothy dressing.  Also a pretty legit dish.  I know I already said the oysters were my fave, but there weren’t nothing wrong with this salad neither y’all. 

Things got more pedestrian from there.  Crab cakes were quite mayonnaise-y and sweet.  I have to say though, they contained a good amount of real crab meat, and the surfaces were well crisped. 

Lamb chops were so delicious and juicy in some spots that they had us gnawing on the bones.  Unfortunately there were also some dry bits on the meat pops, and the accompanying veggies were buttery but bland. 

Lastly we had the Frutti di Mare, a melange of seafood sans pasta (which distinguished it from the Seafood Pasta that was also on the menu).  I had no photo of this dish that was not so blurry that you couldn’t make out what was happening.  I don’t think I was drunk, so it must have been the first symptom of a food coma.  Because I just realized I didn’t even mention the wonderful bread and butter that I ate before anything else.  Man I love me some bread and butter.  Dang.  Anyhow, yes, the Frutti di Mare.  Eh.  It was not so great.  In fact, it was about as good as the photos I took of it.  Well…that’s probably unfair.  It wasn’t bad, just unnecessary.  It probably suffered from being the dish we ate at the very end of this long meal. 

I think Jimmie is an interesting addition to a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of fine dining options.  It seems though that it is doomed to cater mostly to patrons of the Cova hotel.  If the opportunity arose I might be interested in trying Jimmie out again, but it won’t be at the top of my list of places to revisit.

Jimmie Bar Ristorante

Their Yelp page

655 Ellis