Our Gourmet -- DH's Dog House: We have a wiener

June 05. 2018 10:53PM
DH's Dog House
1451 Front St., Manchester; no phone; online via Facebook.

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from May-November, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cuisine: Classic American roadside.

Pricing: Dogs & Burgers, $2.50-8; Fries, $3.50-$4.50; Soups/Chowder, $3.50-$5.50, Desserts, $1.25-$2.

Scores for DH's Dog House
Atmosphere: 17/20
Menu: 17/20
Food: 18/20
Service: 18/20
Value: 18/20
TOTAL: 88/100

Maybe it was the food truck festival at McIntyre Ski Area over the weekend, or maybe it was Saturday’s horrid humidity breaking, but as Sunday wore on, Our Gourmet needed a hot dog. We needed a hot dog RIGHT NOW.

It might be genetic. Our Gourmet’s mom was a hot dog connoisseur, sometimes driving an hour to the Jersey shore to enjoy a hot dog with an ocean view, then driving the hour back. On her 80th birthday, she insisted on hot dogs for her birthday dinner.

OG has the same bug. We’ve driven to Maine just to duck into Flo’s in Cape Neddick for a dog topped with Flo’s special relish. We once downed nine hot dogs in nine inings — during a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

We told our vegan Dining Companion we planned to visit DH’s Dog House on Manchester’s West Side. She wrinkled her nose and refused. The 8-year-old FussBudget (FB), who obviously inherited Grandma’s hot dog gene, was all for it. Casting any cardiac concerns aside, we headed to Front Street. As we crossed the Amoskeag Bridge and turned right off the circle, the vehicle ahead of us had a license plate that read simply “HD.”

“Hot Dog,” we thought.

DH’s Dog House is a couple miles up Front Street, just outside Intervale Country Club overlooking the Merrimack River. Parking is ample next to the mustard-yellow trailer where Denis Huard has been steaming Kayem franks for a decade, first outside Demers’ Garden Center across the river, and now on Front Street. Four large picnic tables and three smaller tables were nice and clean. We ambled up to the window and ordered.

Being 8, the FB is still allowed to put ketchup on a hot dog (for anyone older, ketchup on a dog should be considered sacrilege), so he ordered a single steamed dog ($2.50) with ketchup. The OG had much grander plans, but started with a single, naked dog ($2.50) to form a baseline for our dining adventure. To gauge DH’s delivery of some condiment classics, we also ordered a Chili-Cheese Dog ($3.50), a Kraut Dog ($3) with onion and spicy mustard, an Italian Sausage with peppers and onions ($8), homemade, seasoned “Freedom Fries” ($4.50) and a cup of clam chowder ($5.50).

Yes, it was crazy.

The Dog House’s go-to dog is the Kayem Fenway Frank, a mild, skinless all-beef hot dog. They’re steamed here, leaving them juicy and a bit flabby. We prefer a spicier, snappier dog, but these are family fare and fit the bill. Our dogs were served with the condiment below the meat. The FB’s came with a stripe of ketchup in the bottom of a squishy bun and he inhaled it. We stopped after a bite of our plain dog, sacrificing our enjoyment of the dog and moist bun, which comfortingly stuck to the roof of our mouth, and let him have the rest.

The chili cheese dog came with the roll splayed out, the hot dog nestled within, surrounded by a ladleful of very mild chili and topped with neon yellow cheese sauce. The knife and fork with which it was served were a necessity, as were napkins. Delicious. We feared later indigestion, but our fear was unfounded. This dog was pretty darn good.

The Kraut Dog was our standout. The spicy brown mustard kicked things up a notch, as did bits of raw onion. We loved the kraut, which was on the mild side and had cooked down to a soft sweetness. Easily was our favorite dog of the day.

We were surprised by both the chowder and fries. Frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect from the chowder, but it was as thick, creamy and loaded with clams and potato as any we’ve had at fancier places. The fries were amazing. Rough cut shoestrings were a little soggy, but the seasoning, which included plenty of salt as well as oregano and rosemary, had us overlooking that.

We saved most of the fries and chowder for the DC, whose fear of few vegan options at DH’s were well founded. The closest option was corn chowder — with bacon. The DC was impressed by the fries and they disappeared quickly. So did the chowder. We saved our sausage for later as well and it fit the bill as a midnight snack when we got up to guzzle water to allay our likely sodium-induced cramps in our toes. The 8-inch sausage was spiced with anise and was still juicy. The peppers and onions were grilled to tender while still slightly crunchy.

Homemade lemonade ($2) was sweet enough for the FB and tart enough to provide interest for OG and helped wash everything down as we watched boats and water skiers plying the river. It was a very comforting Sunday afternoon, with very comforting food.

Our GourmetManchester

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