by Alice Levitt
1880 Mountain Rd. at the Gale Farm Shopping Center, Stowe, 253-7785
You'll see plenty of dogs eating outdoors on Church Street in Burlington, but to enjoy air conditioning with your pup, there's only one eatery that I know of. I don't have a dog, but when I hit Stowe Dogs this weekend, I befriended several, and got a tasty lunch out of the deal.
As indicated at right, nearly every surface at Stowe Dogs, including walls and tables, is loaded with photos of pups who have visited from as far away as Chile and the Netherlands. I looked at them all and have a favorite, but I'll never tell...
The one bit of wall not dog-eared is the white-board menu. Naturally, dogs are the focus there, too.
McKenzie Country Classics pork franks and beefy Hebrew Nationals are among the 21 hot dog options. I tried both. Not pictured are the mustard and relish that later dressed the extra-long Hebrew National sausage. Not that it needed them. The tube of meat was juicy and garlicky inside with just a bit of bubbly crackle to its casing.
Good as it was, the smaller McKenzie hot dog was more singular. Called the "Vermont Skye Dog," this creation was surrounded by crisp bacon, and the bun below the dog itself was soaked in just enough maple to imbue each bite with its flavor but minus the mess. It was like a classic Vermont breakfast in a hot dog bun. All it needed was an over-easy egg on top.
Would you just look at that cute little burger? I'm not sure how they did it, but every side was encapsulated in a fine film of mild cheddar. No one asked me how I'd like my burger cooked, so it was on the well-done side.
I'm sure it would have been more delicious had it been juicier, but the meaty little puck was enjoyable enough as it was. I also would not have protested the offer of some lettuce or tomato on top. The sandwich felt a little bare with just ketchup and mustard, which I added at the amply supplied condiment bar.
The grilled chicken sandwich had the opposite problem. A very small, thin breast that lacked seasoning nearly disappeared under the weight of lettuce and tomatoes sliced thicker than the chicken itself.
At least not finishing the chicken sandwich left more room for fries. They were as good as they look — crisp outside and creamy inside. They were served unsalted, leaving diners the chance to season it to their own tastes. Strangely, we found they were great with just a dip of ketchup or mayo — no added salt. Also worth mentioning is the fact that this picture is of the small fries. Two professional eaters weren't able to finish it. At $2.25, it seemed like quite a deal.
While not exactly a gourmet destination, Stowe Dogs was a swell place for me and my furry new friends to spend a dog day August afternoon.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.