WHY ALL THE FUSS about a dumb hot dog you may ask? For one, the American hot dog is held in great esteem by many and it ranks closely with other totally American icons like The Hamburger, Buffalo Wings and Down-Home BBQ. Now the “Michigan Sauce” of which we seek is like the icing on the cake that can turn an ordinary, everyday, good American hot dog into a work of art for the taste buds!
On the other hand it may be just ‘cause we love ‘em and need the excuse of a survey to sample as many as possible in a Summer – but I digress….
This week we enter the venerable establishment of McSweeney’s Red Hots in Plattsburgh, NY.
We have heard good comments about McSweeney’s Michigan hot dogs in Plattsburgh (they prefer to call them Red Hots) so we stopped for lunch at their Route 3 location.
Their building inside is bright, new and clean looking with a very large open dining area. They have carhops! When we first pulled up a smiling young lady ran up to see what we would like and we said we would really like to dine inside.
They had a nice menu selection of burgers, dogs, chicken, salads and some specialty sides like Gravy & Cheese Fries and Special Fries – fries with McS meat sauce & cheese.
Niki has wanted a really good hamburger with just lettuce and tomato so she ordered it (Hamburger Deluxe $2.95) with a side of onion rings ($1.50). As this is important scientific Michigan research I had to order one of their famed red hots ($1.95) – with onions of course (no extra charge) – and a side of the “Special Fries” ($2.80) which really sounded good.
Our orders arrived eventually and we thought the onion rings were really good. Niki says her burger was just okay. Now the Red Hot/Michigan fell well short of my hopes and expectations. It was a run of the mill hot dog on an non-toasted bun with sauce that tasted like canned Hormel chili sauce (without the beans). A little spice had been added to give it a touch of heat. The fries came in their own cardboard container with a good dose of the same “McS” meat sauce and a melted and solidified layer of tasteless white cheese on top. I actually put catsup on both dishes to coax some tomato flavor. Maybe it’s the preference in these parts as the sauce tasted much like that of Mac’s Ice Cream Parlor in Keeseville. Again, more like canned, bean-less chili than “real” homemade Michigan sauce. If you just tuned in to our experiment – we define our “real” Michigan sauce as a homemade, slightly sweet, tomato-based sauce with ground beef that might almost pass as a pretty good pasta sauce as well.
That said we do respect the fact that McSweeney’s does a good business with workers coming in on their lunch hour as well as the many retired folk we noticed who appear to be regulars and all were enjoying their food.
Again we are trying to find the best Michigans in the North Country based on the sauce we have come to know and love from Gene’s Hot Dog Stand in Port Henry. We would also like to hear from anyone who has tried both Gene’s and either The Happy Pike, Mac’s or McSweeney’s to chime in and give their opinion. Could be we just have it all backwards?
We have one more “big name” in the Northern NY Michigan sauce field (next week) before we head across Lake Champlain to see how Northern Vermonters like their Michigans. Anyone have a Vermont favorite?
McSweeney’s Red Hots – 3 locations around Plattsburgh, NY
(We rate it 2 stars in the Michigan sauce department)
Route 3 West, west of the Mall and west of Lowe’s
Route 9 North by the City Beach, next door to the Chamber of Commerce.
Route 9 South, just south of PARC, across from Stewart’s.