Last week, we went to Ben's Chili Bowl. This is a much ballyhooed restaurant in DC. Their signature dish is the half-smoke. Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, the Obamas, Bono and Ted Koppel all love this place. It has to be good right? Has Bono ever led anyone astray? Surely Ted Koppel knows a good chilidog when he sees one.
The line to the joint snaked through the restaurant, out the front door, and through the adjacent alley. When I saw this, I knew the place had to be good. After a half hour or so, we ordered a couple of half-smokes and milk shakes. Miraculously, we were able to find a seat as well.
The half-smoke doesn't look that impressive. It's about the size of the standard hot dog, and the chili has the appearance of your run of the mill Hormel canned chili. The sausage was pretty decent, but nothing special. The chili tasted like it looked...cheap, canned and bland. The half-smoke doesn't sit well in the stomach either. I felt this the rest of the day. Overall, I give the half-smoke a C+. The sausage earns an A-, while the chili earns a D. The line earns an F.
The next day, was the Cross race where brats were served up with Ommegang beer...a much better experience. The beer's an A+, the race was an A+, and the brat gets an A.
Saturday night, we ate at Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg. This place kicks ass. The beer menu's very impressive, more or less a book. They have quite the variety of imports, domestics, and local beers. I saw quite a few bottles of "vintage" beers in the cooler, going for upwards of $30 for a 25 oz bottle. For the most part, their drafts were reasonably priced. I had a Sierra Nevada Triple for $4.50. Getting back to the sausage, I noticed that the "stuffed pretzel" is one of the signature dishes. It consists of a Bavarian pretzel, stuffed with Havarti cheese, sauerkraut, sweet mustard and a Kielbasa. I was in sandwich heaven. This thing rocked! I have never had a sausage based dish equal to the stuffed pretzel, nor have I been in a beer restaurant of this quality. An A+ sausage for sure.