All the Fried Food
Dippin' Dog ($2.50)
The breading on the Dippin' Dog is dense and crumbly, with actual cornbread taste. This is the highlight, with the skinless dog itself getting a little lost among the corn. I hear there's a ⅓ pounder version on the menu; next time, I'm going for that.
Country Fried Bacon ($6.00)
The aforementioned Country Fried Bacon is respectably subdued. The bacon itself is thin, with a purer flavor than the pepperoni-like version at Paddy Long's. I rather prefer the bacon's chewy texture here, though those firmly in the crisp camp may be put off. Two dipping sauces, a mayo based Argentine and a Harold's-like hot, work best when their powers combine, adding a creamy, vinegary finish to the experience.
Deep Fried Pickle Chips ($3.50)
The Deep Fried Pickle Chips pack plenty of pickle flavor, even if they are a bit limp. However, after too many versions that pat dry the pickle taste right out, it's a trade off I'm willing to make. Hats off for the Burger King-esque sprinkling of fries that peppers the dish.
Chili Bombs ($7.50)
Part of a short, highly publicized secret menu, the Chili Bombs are like the Supreme Tamales you find at hot dog stands around the city, but you know, made with good cornbread and assertive chili. Said chili is Cincinnati-ish, but with no discernible sweetness. Dip these in the included Merkt's cheddar sauce, and pray that God has mercy on your soul.
Fried Jalapeños ($3.50)
Part two of the secret menu, the Fried Jalapeños are of the ballpark nacho variety, and they are brilliant. I'd put these on anything: nachos, a burger, or chili cheese fries. Speaking of which...
Merkt's Cheddar Chili Fries ($5.50)
The Merkt's Cheddar Chili Fries are as over the top and gut-bomby as they look, and I ate these greedily the way rubberneckers can't take their eyes off the scene of an accident. Though the slightly separated cheese sauce and chili overwhelm the fries, I can't say that I'm complaining, unfortunately.
I've spouted about this before, but we're lucky here in Chicago to be blessed with an abundance of exceptional fry options. Fries that would kill in other cities (ahem, Five Guys) are easily overshadowed by the effortless versions found at places like Redhot Ranch. For a place that stakes its reputation on its fryer-prowess, the highly touted Fries here are under fried and undersalted. That generous sprinkling in the picture is my own. I can't say what the fry scene was like in 2005, but I do know that WASC should join the "extra crispy" camp, and fast.