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HD1 Restaurant Review, Atlanta

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When you order a hot dog, are you the lone-wiggle-of-mustard kind of garnisher or more of a chili-cheese-slaw-Russian-dressing sort? If you’re the latter, then prepare to have a blast exploring the menu at HD1, where the dogs come piled to nose-engulfing heights with garnishes you would never have before imagined. Red currants. Walnuts. Herbed crème fraîche. Grilled radicchio.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Who could be behind this? If you guessed Richard Blais, you win a canister of pepper jack foam, which is an airy house cheese sauce that finds its way onto something called the “Red Haute Dog.”

Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, across the street from Pura Vida Tapas — the place that belongs to Blais’ “Top Chef” cohort, Hector Santiago — HD1 is like Flip Burger Boutique with tube steaks instead of burgers. Blais, along with his business partner Barry Mills and executive chef Jared Lee Pyles, once again offers a world of flavors within a bun. But this time around he has smartly brought things down a notch. Lower prices as well as a lower-key performance with all the foodie shenanigans make HD1 into a comfy neighborhood joint in the way Flip never was. Some dishes seem too clever by half, but you will find plenty of good things to eat and drink here and have fun exploring the menu.

With its louvered wooden facade, HD1 looks like the coolest kid on the block, but once inside it comes off as a real joint. (The AJC’s “First Look” columnist Bob Townsend calls the design by ai3 a “postmodern beer hall.”) You line up to consider a blackboard menu, order at the counter and then sit at tables and long benches that are more communal than private. The music is loud and alternative, the yellowy lighting easy on the eyes.

hd11

A lineup of dogs on the bar (photos by Becky Stein)

Hipsters abound. On one night, there’s a guy at the bar who’s got the whole package — ironic fedora, unshaven face, scruffy blazer over a deep V-neck, and skinny black jeans that manage to hug tight while still dropping down faux-gangsta style to reveal a band of underwear. (A feat of both tailoring and buttlessness, to say the least.)

Speaking of the bar, you can avoid the line if there’s a free stool and place your order with the bartender. Sip on a New Fashion ($9), a tasty mixture of Knob Creek bourbon, blackberries, soda and bitters on ice, as you wait for your dinner. On the softer side, look for fun beers in cans (such as Dale’s Pale IPA at $4) and classic Southern soft drinks such as Sun Drop and Cheerwine (all $3).

The menu offers what we can now safely call “classic Blais” — edgy cooking ideas translated with goofy good humor to everyday American food. (He has great instincts for getting young diners on the cuisine-pop bandwagon.) His food, at its best, engages both the taste memories of the kid inside of you and the palate you are refining now.

Farro salad with grapes and fennel

Farro salad with grapes and fennel

Example: waffled fries with “maple-oy” ($3.50), which comes not from the Jewish Canadian potato repertoire but is rather a basket of Chick-fil-A style fries drizzled with a sweet, spicy sauce. This dish is supposed to bring to mind waffles and syrup, and the name puns on the Mae Ploy brand of Thai sweet chili sauce used in concert with maple syrup in the sauce. This dish is a hoot.

Shrimp and grits ($4) get a spin in the Ironic Food Transformer and come out as three tasty skewers of shrimp fried in a crunchy grits batter. Boiled peanuts ($3) tingling unexpectedly with North African spices make for a nice nibble with drinks.

Alas, the approach can backfire. Lemon pepper wings from this kitchen turn into chicken wing confit with lemon curd and Sichuan pepper ($5). Clever, but the sweet glaze on these wings tastes like molten Lemonhead candies. Try as I might, I can’t get the flavor out of my head.

But that Red Haute Dog ($6) with brisket chili, Vidalia onions and that sloshy cheese foam helps mightily. The beef-and-pork sausage from the local Spotted Trotter butcher has a good, juicy snap, and its toasted Sweet Ghana bun (like griddled brioche) from La Baguette Bakery adds another level of deliciousness to consider. The drippy fennel sausage ($6.50) plays nicely against the sweet, tart and bitter flavors of house ketchup (more like a tomato jam), fontina cheese and grilled radicchio.

A carrot dog loaded with currants, cukes and yogurt. Ain't gonna fine this anywhere else!

A carrot dog loaded with currants, cukes and yogurt. Ain't gonna fine this anywhere else!

Any of the dogs can be prepared with a sous-vide carrot, carved to a non-tapering tube and cooked in a water bath until it achieves a fantastic, bite-able texture. We try it with the red currants, minted cucumbers and dense yogurt that comes with the lamb merguez sausage ($7). I kind of want one without all the hoo-ha on top to get to know it better.

The flavors and ingredients do pile up quickly — too quickly for me much of the time. My friend seems to like the chicken-apple sausage with crème fraîche, walnuts and grape relish, but I find it unsettling when a half nutmeat clattered from bun to plate. It’s like Quentin Tarantino’s idea of Waldorf Salad. The oxtail and tripe hash and Russian dressing on a beef pastrami dog ($7) bring only gooey indistinctness to the proceedings. Stringy, funky-tasting pulled pork, one of several toppings on the sloppy Eastbound & Down dog ($6.50), has little in common with actual barbecue. Enough.

You ready for that bonehead food writer aphorism that you knew was coming? Simpler is better. HD1’s version of the “classic hot dog” ($4.50), with nothing but sauerkraut and a sinus-clearing house mustard, gets best of show from me. Despite all the punning shake-shop side dishes to choose from, none really beats a tasty farro salad with fennel and roasted grapes ($4) for its clean layering of flavors.

Finish with a $2 cup of one of the daily creative flavors of soft-serve ice cream (Whoppers candy, PB&J, spiced apple cider with orange caramel) and you may slide off that bar stool a happy diner. You can come to HD1, drop $10 and have a meal that seems a gourmet bargain. I do wish the restaurant gave you a few more straightforward options that would suit the laid-back neighborhood vibe of the place. A salad or some good onion rings might be welcome; maybe even a big, real bratwurst in a floury bun with nothing but a stripe of that great German mustard . I mean, sometimes a hot dog is a vehicle for all your foodie wants and desires. But sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog.

HD1
664 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, 404-815-1127
2stars5
Food: Hot dogs like you’ve never seen elsewhere, with creative side dishes
Service: Friendly, fast, efficient
Best dishes: Classic hot dog, fennel sausage, farro salad, waffled fries with maple-oy
Vegetarian selections: Any dog can be made with a vegetarian frank or a sous-vide carrot
Credit cards: All major
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday.
Children: Perfect for kids
Parking: A few spaces in front; much more parking allowed in church lot across the street
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: High but not conversation-impeding
Patio: Rooftop patio to open in the spring
Takeout: Yes
ratings_key_febUSE

46 comments Add your comment

Barbara

November 17th, 2011
8:20 am

Yeah, yeah, Yeah. I think I’ll stick with America’s Top Dog. $10 for a hot dog “dinner” sounds a bit much. But nice review, it sounds like it is exactly what I expected it to be. $7 for a boiled carrot on a bun?

TheFoodList

November 17th, 2011
9:20 am

Blais bites again. Only RB could get a restaurant not only opened, but financed, and licensed in that old Coffee Shop.

Hot Dogs could be the next burger, but as always – RB bites off more than we can chew, and heads to the bank laughing !

GaPeachy

November 17th, 2011
9:56 am

I have been dying to try this place, sounds really different. I am all for something new, i get soooo tired of eating the same thing over and over again, even if it is a bit expensive. Believe me you don’t want to know what all is in a .99 hotdog, that i will pass on!

RK

November 17th, 2011
9:58 am

$10 for a meal too much for you? Stay home and start your microwave.

It isn’t Hot Doug’s, but I enjoyed HD1 (but not as much as I did with Flip). I’ve had 4 dogs, and the only one to me that was a clear miss was the non-dog lobster roll — no acid, too creamy. I love the merguez.

Billie

November 17th, 2011
10:32 am

Kudos to Richard for spotlighting merguez, a much under-appreciated savory sausage!

chimmy lablonde

November 17th, 2011
11:02 am

This place is a disaster! why you continually support foolish, poorly executed, trite food is beyond me! Blais needs to go work for NASA!! Sadly there is more soul in a fresh big mac than there is anywhere at HD1. Plop this abomination in NYC and it wouldn’t last a week. They should get real and ask themselves the hard question …close for a couple weeks and retool this pathetic effort or continue serving lame bantha fodder? what a joke! the interiors might actually be the only thing going for this feeble addition to the dining scene…

She-She

November 17th, 2011
11:41 am

I love Flip Burger Boutique!! I enjoy RB and the food concepts he brings to Atlanta. Can’t wait to try this new hot dog spot.

steph

November 17th, 2011
11:46 am

I thought the waffle fries were nasty.. much too sweet and got old quickly. The lousiana lobster roll was good, but not great. The buns are amazing though.

Swami

November 17th, 2011
12:53 pm

Though Flip Burger waaaaay over rated; nor all that good and too pricy for what was served. This place sounds like .v2 Will be delighted when the foodies get over the food and eating as a concept thing and the intellectual masturbation stops. Please God.

Bob J

November 17th, 2011
1:14 pm

For chimmy lablonde; you outted yourself with the big mac comment. For Barbara; it is people like you that keep this city in a constant struggle to open and keep quality restaurants. Both of you continue to order your version of culinary delights through the microphone and drive straight home. In regards to the review, John I beleive you are spot on. I live close by HD1 and enjoy the place.

Va Hi Gal

November 17th, 2011
1:25 pm

The chili sent me to the toilet all day long :-( I loved the pickles and my server Bubba!

Typical Redneck

November 17th, 2011
1:40 pm

I’d try it, but am rarely in that part of town.

andrea

November 17th, 2011
2:12 pm

I agree with JK—I ordered one of the all-but-the-kitchen-sink numbers the time I ate here and envied my friend’s simpler selection. (But then,she’d eaten at the place before. Knowledge is power).

SCG

November 17th, 2011
2:24 pm

“A feat of both tailoring and buttlessness, to say the least.”

Slow clap…

three jack

November 17th, 2011
4:23 pm

I tried HD1 last week…the chili on the red haute dog is horrible. I also got a EB&D dog which was better, but still not worth the drive. I’ll stick with Yeah! Burger dogs.

ndfirstsection

November 17th, 2011
4:23 pm

There are two things one should never see being made: sausages and legislation.
–1st Duke of Wellington

Ben

November 17th, 2011
4:31 pm

Blais is clearly a genius at franchises. I’m sure that, like Flip, we’ll be seeing HD1’s in other cities soon. I’m sure he’ll make a mint.

That said, this type of novelty cooking is beneath a chef of his clear talents. Kind of a waste if you ask me.

I keep wanting him to open a legitimate high end restaurant like a Miller Union or a Rathbuns but he continues on this path.

Oh well.

stay out

November 17th, 2011
5:02 pm

I just wish Kessler would stay out of Atlanta. You wanna mock the locals , go someplace else bro.

Boring

November 17th, 2011
5:06 pm

First hamburgers and now Hot Dogs!?!?!? WHAT WILL HE COME UP WITH NEXT???

Without his “celebrity” status, these restaurants wouldn’t exist. Overpriced basic food for yuppies and TV addict suburbanites. No thanks.

Jack Jackson

November 17th, 2011
5:33 pm

Lots of jealous chefs posting here today!

kmb

November 17th, 2011
5:34 pm

The lamb sausage tasted like gyro.
The regular beef hot dog was mushy.
The dogs on the streets of New York, at Costo when they were kosher, and at America’s Top Dog are better and cheaper.
If you want the exotic, go here. If you want a hot dog, go elsewhere.

Diego

November 17th, 2011
5:54 pm

Yeah, $10 is a strech for a hot dog but $10 for a Barker’s Red Hot Charcoal Jumbo Dog, Rings and a coke is well worth it if you want to go beyond the norm! All this mid-town faux food is so over! Boring is correct, Let’s rush to that celebrity chefs new venue and tell our friends we were some of the first and the food is so out there and you should see the funky decor, awsome! Count the number of too die for burgers in 2011 and see if they are still around in 2012! What’s the next big exciting sandwich for you foodies, bison did’nt make it, how bout roo burgers or better yet rabbit, tastes like chicken or even coyote, that would solve another problem…. yea!

Dave

November 17th, 2011
5:56 pm

If America’s Top Dog is better, this place is a non-starter for someone wanting a real hot dog. ATD serves generic copying of regional styled dogs, without the authenticity or the quality. So the Blais effort is what? Overpriced take offs on the “idea” of hot dogs? Foam? Jeez!

oldandntheway

November 17th, 2011
11:00 pm

And as Janis said, “Get it while you can.” Mr. Blais.

algood

November 18th, 2011
8:40 am

I’ll stick with the Varsity. I am hoping for an early demise. Because of this hot dog stand we can’t park at our favorite resturant Pura Vida. For years Pura Vida has rented the church lot across the street, but HD has taken it over. I really don’t understand how they got a permit for a resturant with no parking.

Carla

November 18th, 2011
8:55 am

Sorry, for a hot dog out, my Peach heart beats for the Varsity…I know I shouldn’t…but I can’t HELP it! :) Happy Friday!

RK

November 18th, 2011
9:36 am

Ben: he is opening a “real” restaurant, too.

carla roqs

November 18th, 2011
9:38 am

@ john—ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm “On one night, there’s a guy at the bar who’s got the whole package — ironic fedora, unshaven face, scruffy blazer over a deep V-neck, and skinny black jeans that manage to hug tight while still dropping down faux-gangsta style to reveal a band of underwear. (A feat of both tailoring and buttlessness, to say the least.)” first, tmi on this character. secondly– wtheck??????????????

james

November 18th, 2011
10:48 am

@carla – that was my favorite part of the entire review. Come on, you know you’ve seen that guy around!

carla roqs

November 18th, 2011
11:01 am

but, ha, james– just so not accustomed to john mentioning guys’ derrieres–(cannot spell it)

BIG TIME

November 18th, 2011
11:35 am

I hear he opening a sloppy joe place next.

BIG TIME

November 18th, 2011
11:35 am

L

November 18th, 2011
12:08 pm

FYI. He is opening a high-end restaurant on the Westside next year to be called The Spence.

OccupyRB

November 18th, 2011
12:14 pm

How many restaurants has Blais single-handedly closed in Atlanta? First was Pie Bar, a disaster from the gate, yet he and Bob Amick are getting back in bed together…???!!! He has figured out how to get other people to invest and run the concepts he dreams up, while he gets paid as a consultant. I hear there are trendy restaurants that solely serve french fries and ones that focus on grilled cheese’s- look for one by RB in an edgy part of town coming soon!!

RK

November 18th, 2011
12:30 pm

Blais had nothing to do with Pie Bar. Feel free to make more stuff up.

Barbara

November 18th, 2011
1:05 pm

@ Bob J – Wow, you have me pegged. Of course if your idea of “quality” restaurant is an overblown, gimmicky play on a commonplace and traditionally inexpensive food by a chef who is attempting to cash in as much as possible before his name in no longer household … I am not certain that Atlanta needs more “quality” restaurants. What we need is more quality with honesty and less showmanship with pretension.

I do not frequent restaurants because they are trendy or the place to be seen, I frequent them because they have good food and appropriate prices. I have no problem paying anywhere from $10 – $100 dollars for a meal that is worth that price. I do have a problem with paying $10 for a $5 hot dog with $5 of “Top Chef”.

OccupyRB

November 18th, 2011
1:18 pm

Ahh, RK- it was his menu. Do your homework. p.s., that is where he met his wife.

John Kessler

November 18th, 2011
1:23 pm

Barbara – Hot dogs here start at $4.50. Not super cheap, but not super expensive for a locally made, all natural product…

OccupyRB

November 18th, 2011
1:28 pm

RK, here is my made up back up…www.greenolivemedia.com/pressreleases/08-28_​blais_​elemental.pdf ·Enjoy the crow.

mUFFIN

November 18th, 2011
2:36 pm

I’d like to try this place, especially since they have non-sausage options, but communal seating with someone’s butt hanging out next to me does not really make me want to go eat there.

Gabrielle

November 19th, 2011
1:59 pm

I stopped reading at the description of the hipster dude in his ironic fedora. Fantastic! No need to read about the dogs.

Johnny Hot Dog

November 19th, 2011
4:10 pm

I’m with @three jack, I’ll take a Yeah! Burger dog and skip the pretentiousness.

Gabriel

November 19th, 2011
4:30 pm

Took the family to HD1 after the little 5 points halloween parade and i was disappointed!! the hot dogs were overpriced and we’ve had better waffle fries at Chik Fila. The ambiance was nice but the food hit the mark. will not go back.

Boogerwolf

November 19th, 2011
6:45 pm

Ate there with the family today. OK food but DEFINITELY not worth the price. Had the Red Haute and had it not been for the pimento cheese spread it would have been disappointing. To add to that the service was less than stellar. Hell, it was just plain bad. I fell for the pretentiousness but not anymore!

Bob from Accounttemps

November 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

We go to Flip quite a bit — not because it’s hip, or cool, or whatever (we typically go with the kids after all), but because the burgers are darned good. They really are! If the dogs at HD1 are anywhere near, then success should follow here as well. Keep it moving forward, I say. Congrats to Blais for taking a shot at something new and different.

Diego

November 21st, 2011
7:05 pm

Off topic restaurant: Visited the El Porton restaurant in the Midway Publix shopping South Forsyth center recently, the worst tex/mex food in Atlanta Metro MHO. Half cooked, doughy, meat not warm, scary! Service unatentive! What is it with Atlanta Metro Mexican restaurants with interchangeble menus, sorta like Chinese restaurants. Can someone point out those ethinic restaurants that are beyond the curve?