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Lauren’s Dogs Have Bite

May 5, 2010

Lauren’s House of Dogs is not a kennel, nor a grooming salon for pampered pooches.  It’s a new eating establishment that opened about 3 weeks ago on Delaware Avenue, next door to Emack & Bolio’s Ice Cream store.  Now that you know what kind of place it is, you can probably deduce what’s on the menu – hot dogs, and lots of ‘em.  In fact, if you aren’t in the mood for frankfurters, you should keep on walking.  Other than their side dishes, hot dogs are what comprise the eatery’s menu.  And luckily, they do hot dogs very well.

The eating area inside is small but cozy, with 9 swivel chairs facing countertops along the walls.  A hot dog clock, photos of the Albany area and a Chinese calendar are among the décor items – they also have a small outdoor seating area facing Delaware Ave. You have two choices for the type of hot dog you get at Lauren’s – “Chicago style,” which is an Old Neighborhood dog that’s grilled, or “New York style,” which is a steamed Sabrett dog.  With either, you get to choose from a variety of toppings, including sauerkraut, chili, sautéed onions and peppers, pickle relish and baked beans.  They also feature a couple of creative hot dog selections; the “hot dog chimichanga” is two links rolled up in a flour tortilla with salsa and sour cream, and then deep fried.  Or you can simply get a deep fried hot dog in a bun.

Their side dishes range from potato salad and coleslaw to French fries, onion rings, baked beans, corn bread, macaroni and cheese and even collard greens.  They also feature a kid’s menu called “Newcomers,” which consists of 3 mini-franks with a side for only $3.99.  The grown-up meals are also very reasonable – you can pick two of any style of hot dog with one side for only $5.99.

My eating companion ordered the mini-franks with mac and cheese; I opted for a corn dog and an Old Neighborhood dog with sautéed onions and hot peppers, with onion rings for my side.  The mini-franks were quite good, as was my grilled dog.  They had a nice snap to them from the natural casing, and my dog in particular was very juicy.  The downside to the dogs was the buns.  They tasted straight-out-of-the-package boring; it would have been nice to have the buns steamed or toasted.  The corn dog was fairly standard – it was good, but nothing to make me order it again unless I was really in the mood for one.  The onion rings were fine as well – again, nothing great but certainly palatable, and served with a good remoulade.  The macaroni and cheese however, was awful.  It was made with white American cheese, which is just not a good choice for macaroni and cheese.  The food was sticky and bland; the batch could have been sitting all day and this was the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, but even it was fresh I don’t think it would have been very good. 

One reason I will return to Lauren’s is their customer service – Lauren was very helpful in entertaining my companion (age 3), and was a pleasant person.  Our two meals with one drink came to a very reasonable $12, and it was a good amount of food.  I will certainly be back when I am in the mood for hot dogs.  You have to go early during the week – they close at 7 from Sunday to Thursday, but they’re open until 11 on Friday and Saturday.

The Mouse House Kitchen gives Lauren’s House of Dogs 3.5 out of 5 stars!

UPDATE:  I returned to Lauren’s last week, and thankfully the macaroni and cheese has been greatly improved.  I spoke with the owner (Lauren’s is named after his business partner’s daughter), and he had been on vacation during my first visit, and explained that his recipes hadn’t quite been mastered by the rest of his staff. This time I tried an Old Neighborhood dog in “onion sauce,” a tomato-based topping packed with sauteed onions, a la the kind you get at NYC hot dog carts, and it was fantastic. 

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