I must admit, it was way cool watching the grill guy at Brians Dog House Grill standing in the kitchen stirring ashes over charcoal underneath the grill.
It was like being at an outdoor barbecue sans the heat and the bugs. The charcoal factor is actually what led me to Brains a grilled hot dog infused with a hickory charcoal flavor is one of lifes simpler pleasures. As it turns out, more charcoal smoke permeated the air than the foot-long hot dogs. Though, I did taste smoke in the Buffalo chicken sandwich. Overall, I appreciate the effort and the time the staff put into their craft which includes turning out one rocking milkshake theyve dubbed The Elvis.
Brians is located in Huntersville, in the Rosedale shopping center off Gilead Road. The restaurants namesake and Buffalo, New York native, Brian Benatovich, moved his love of grilling outside into an indoor locale.
Benatovich said: I was the little kid who would run up to the grill and get smacked in the back of the head by my dad because I was getting too close. Two years ago this December, Benatovich fired up his own grill, which he says must be managed throughout the day to ensure the fire stays at a consistent temperature.
Items are grilled to order, so pack your patience. Nothing we ordered took longer than 10 minutes to come to our table. If you get the fidgets while waiting, peek over the counter and watch the kitchen crew sweat it out over the long, hot grill, which, when we were there, sent up enough charcoal smoke that at times was quite strong.
Not only did they grill my foot-long hot dog (which produced a lovely snap when I bit into it), Brians also grilled the bun. Dress the dog with up to 15 toppings which included the standard (and free) mustard, relish and onion as well as specialty toppings ($.50 per) such as chili, cole slaw and cheddar cheese sauce.
Having donned my dog with mustard, pickles and slaw, I thought perhaps they masked the charcoal flavor. But the end of the dog didnt have any toppings, and regrettably, it didnt have much of a charcoal taste either.
What had more flavor was the Italian sausage which featured a healthy amount of Brians homemade hot sauce plus sautéed peppers and onions. It was one spicy bite after the next.
The Buffalo chicken sandwich is where we found the most smokiness. It also boasts homemade bleu cheese a recipe that Benatovich picked up from his grandmother.
Sides include an array of fresh-cut fries curly, straight, sweet potato and chili cheese. The chili on the cheese fries was thankfully not an afterthought as it sometimes can be. I also appreciated how well the fries bore up underneath their heavy toppings.
Brians onion rings were positively gorgeous. Large, thick rings of onion were coated in an airy batter-type crust. They could have used a shake or two of salt, and perhaps a dunk in some hotter oil, as they had a slight oily flavor.
Elvis Presley had a fondness for peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and I think perhaps the King would have appreciated this milkshake named in his honor. The base is chocolate and on first sip all I tasted was that and the peanut butter. But after a few more sips the banana flavor becomes more pronounced. And before I knew it, the shake was gone.
I thought the Buffalo chicken sandwich and the Italian sausage were better ambassadors when it comes to the whole live charcoal cooking thing. So if I go back to Brians Dog House Grill again, it will probably be for those. And if they can manage to infuse a bit more smoke into those hot dogs, Id be willing to give them another go as well.