Saturday, April 9, 2011
The Doodle Dumpster
I have few rules in life, but one of them is that should I walk into a new food establishment and there is a sign heralding some strange and wonderful specialty, I am honor bound to try it. I was confronted by the above pictured scene upon entering the Nicky Doodles in Verona, NY. Nicky Doodles is a small chain of drive up eateries in the Utica/Rome area, think Jumpin' Jack's for a local analogue.
I walked up to the fresh faced lad at the counter and cheerfully inquired as to what a "Doodle Dumpster" was (I did not, however, make any inquiries about the chair for sale). He smiled and pointed at a picture above the register.
Obviously not immediately recognizing that I am a veritable professor of Upstate New York culinary traditions the friendly gent asked me, "have you ever heard of a Garbage Plate?" Chuckling a bit, I said yes, yes I have, and he continued on to explain that the "Dumpster Doodle" was similar, down to the hot dog sauce for which they use a "special Rochester recipe."
If you don't know, Rochester, NY is home to the originator of the Garbage Plate, Nick Tahou's. Nick Tahou's Hots is a veritable shrine to the hot dog gods as anyone who has visited will attest. So I took from the young man that the Doodle Dumpster is something of a homage to the Rochester style garbage plate. He further explained that Nicky Doodle's is hoping that the Dumpster, along with a monstrous banana split that they offer, might entice the "Man Vs. Food" guy to make a visit to Verona.
Anyhow, to the issue of the Doodle Dumpster I said, "Yes please, one of those" and immediately slammed 3 bucks into the tip cup. Smiling, my new friend turned to the griddle staff and informed them that they had been well tipped. I hoped to ensure the highest level of artistry and attention be given to my prize.
As I was by myself (in CNY for work, not just food), I decided to get my order to go. I thought sitting among the happy children and families whilst gorging myself might appear a little lonely and sad. Back at the hotel, I sat down and cracked her open.
There we have it. Fresh cut French fries, cheese sauce, hot dog chili, 1 grilled hot dog, 1 hamburger patty, topped with macaroni salad and with 2 grilled hotdog buns on the side. I could detect the fragrant Greek influenced spice mix (also typical of our Capital Region style hot dog chili) of the hot dog sauce along with a vinegar punch from the macaroni salad. Here is a closeup of the chili.
This hot dog chili is the same beanless/tomatoless concoction that is familiar to me, but a little tighter and less liquid which is good for topping fries without making them over soggy. The homemade macaroni salad was full of tart pickle/mustard flavors and had nice big flecks of hard boiled egg, much better than what you usually see on a Garbage plate. Here is the hot dog, most likely a Hoffman's in this neck of the woods.
I washed my meal down with the only beverage that one could truly pair with a Dumpster Doodle.
Utica Club! By my incessant Utica Club name drops, you will notice that I am something of an entusiast of the golden canned brew. On a side note, you can see my tube of Harissa in the background. I call this my "travel ketchup" and have taken to lugging it around as an essential additive to bland road food.
Anyhow, I found the Doodle Dumpster to be thoroughly enjoyable. Every element was well done, fresh cut fries, good chili, good macaroni salad (and I am not the hugest fan), all prepared by friendly staff in a good setting. I have an instant soft spot in my heart for Nicky Doodle's now and wished that the wife and kid were there to enjoy it with me as the place really shines as a family destination. Next time I am out there I look forward to trying their frozen custard, and there was an interesting sounding "Hot Ham BBQ" sandwich on the menu as well.