I had heard great things about Calgary’s “other” hot dog palace, Le Chien Chaud. Having visited the infamous Tubby Dog last year, we thought a comparison stop was necessary to complete our Cowtown hot dog tour.
With Wednesday supper being our own responsibility (the conference would be covering all other meals over the next day and a half), I thought that would be a good time to pop over to Le Chien Chaud. Arriving at 7:30, Mack and I just made it – the owners were tidying up when we entered, readying for their 8pm closing time.
It is evident that the restaurant is a labour of love for owners Bob and Jane Steckle, who actually run the shop themselves. As opposed to Tubby Dog, which is a dive (albeit an endearing one), Le Chien Chaud has a boutique feel, with artfully displayed artefacts, posters, and memorabilia relating to the phenomenon of hot dogs. The walls are bright red, and when contrasted with the black and white checkered floor, the retro feel of the establishment is unmistakable.
While some of the topping combinations went beyond the usual ketchup, mustard and onion family, Tubby Dog definitely offers more creativity and shock value with their wasabi and cereal-encrusted creations. For that reason, the menu at Le Chien Chaud reminded me very much of The Dawg Father, Edmonton’s premiere hot dog purveyor. Mack ended up choosing the breakfast dog ($5.75), dressed with cream cheese and chive scrambled eggs, cheddar and bacon bits. The Coney Island dog ($5.75) sounded best to me, drenched in a meat sauce. We both opted for the default pork/beef combination, though all beef, vegetarian, buffalo and bratwurst was also available.
We sat down, and before we knew it, our freshly prepared meal was set in front of us. Mack and I were both immediately disappointed that the cheese was not melted – a trip through the broiler would have made a world of difference, especially as a means of binding the toppings together. Although Mack enjoyed his hot dog (commenting that it was moist and flavourful), he would have preferred warmed bacon crisps, instead of the bacon bits that almost tasted artificial.
I am almost always a messier eater than Mack, and in this case, the ladle of meat sauce on my Coney Island dog had me at a disadvantage from the start. However, it was worth the mess, as it added a rich and textured punch to an otherwise typical dog.
Coney Island Dog
Our high expectations had raised the bar for Le Chien Chaud, and while we enjoyed our experience, wouldn’t advise going out of your way to try it.
Le Chien Chaud
3, 2015 4 Street SW, Calgary
Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm