Who Let the Corn Dogs Out?! Summer Grubbin'! Kings Row & point08bar. Pasadena, CA.
Kings Row corn dog cross section.
Playing baseball at the end of a cul-de-sac, loitering at the mall, taking on a dicey homemade ramp with my BMX bike, swimming at the community pool, catching blue-bellied lizards out in the abandoned oil fields and being chased by the fuzz, all these things made up my endless days of summer. And when it came time to refuel, corn dogs were usually the munchies of choice.
Few foods in life are so evocative of a carefree summer day than a corn dog. It represents fun, childhood, the summer fair. It even rocks a golden brown Californian summer tan. There is no better bite in the summer than a corn dog bedazzled by a squiggly stream of yellow mustard.
But as those warm halcyon days of youth fade into romantic reverie, the forever youthful corn dog can also accompany us as we get a little older and our taste buds become more discerning.
Kings Row, the popular Pasadena gastropub, created the Merguez Corn Dog when the staff was scratching its collective head trying to figure out what to do with an exotic North African sausage made of lamb and beef then seasoned with harissa (a Tunisian chili paste), garlic, fennel and sumac. One of them joked, "Let's do a corn dog." That little quip became the Merguez Corn Dog.
Fried in a root beer batter and served with three condiments including whole grain mustard, a spicy aioli and ketchup, the end result is a satisfying combo of sweet, spicy and hearty. Although the batter may not stick perfectly to the sausage at all times, it still is a nice change of pace from a plain corn dog.
Seafood meets corndog at point08bar.
Just down the alley from Kings Row, behind redwhite+bluezz on South Raymond is a jazz bar called point08bar that whips up an upper crust corn dog using fleshy chunks of lobster tail, while the band performs a Lester Young cover.
A plate of these fancy pants Lobster Corn Dogs comes with roughly five pieces. None look like the uniform meat sticks that you'd typically be served at Hot Dog on a Stick. Each lobster corn dog has its own unique contorted crust covering a nice portion of lobster tail. The crust is a standard corn meal batter, nothing special, however, because of this, the flavors and textures of the fresh lobster meat really stand out — mildly sweet, succulent yet firm.
It's a crustacean corn dog that a few high end restaurants like Jar in Los Angeles and Michael Mina in San Francisco have offered in very recent years. Michael Mina uses a lobster sausage rather than chunks.
Though I'm not the type that claims if you batter a shoe and fry it, it'll be tasty. I do appreciate how the quaint town of Pasadena is turning into a corn-dog-utopia by experimenting with the traditional corn dog. If this thing starts trending, we're looking at a delicious summer!
Next up: Deep End Dining and Trippy Food team up to make Dick on a Stick. Yes, that's what I said.