Wednesday, January 4, 2012


(NOTE: Relish is closed for business.)

(Second Review -- February 2012)

Relish is a gourmet hot dog food cart located at the Cartlandia food pod in Portland, Oregon. Christopher Lapraim, a graduate of the Oregon Culinary Institute, opened this cart (a soft open) in early December 2011. Lapraim served in the Navy, then came home to follow his dream of opening a hot dog stand. He runs Relish with his girlfriend, Emily.

I visited Chris a few days after his soft opening. Unfortunately, the water heater was on the fritz that day, so it was a no-go. However, I still sampled some of Chris' chili that he uses on his Coney dog ($5.50). It's a Cincinnati-style chili -- all meat. I had recently gone to Cincinnati on a business trip, and honestly, I'll take Chris' version any day of the week. It was a meatier, heartier chili. The flavorings were more subtle than what I'm used to eating. However, that makes for an ideal hot dog topping because the chili doesn't upstage the Kobe beef hot dog for the starring role. Yeah, no "regular" wieners here, folks.

Chili used on the "Coney" hot dog
A week or so later, I came back and ordered a Reuben dog ($5): a Kobe beef natural casing hot dog, topped with sauerkraut, homemade 1000 Island dressing, and sliced Swiss cheese on a large hot dog bun.

What the menu may look like (December 2011)
"Reuben" dog

The creamy 1000 Island Dressing was well-prepared, and as Chris and Emily pointed out, there is no off-putting aftertaste that a jarred 1000 Island would probably have. The bite of the well-drained sauerkraut worked well with the Kobe beef dog. The beef dog itself was grilled very nicely.

The finished product is put in a toaster oven to melt the blanket of Swiss cheese. Unfortunately, this sliced cheese refused to play nice, not wanting to fully do as told. The frigid temperatures outside may have also contributed to a rigid white barrier cheese shield instead of a caressing blanket screaming food porn. I'd consider shredding the cheese to allow it to melt better, or even take a torch to it and try browning it that way. Who wants a bubbly cheesy, me!

The best part of the dog was really the bun itself. Dare I say, it was the perfect hot dog bun. A light crunch from staying in that toaster oven. Heating it up on the flattop could also be an option, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The Mexican hot dog ($5.50) is one of Chris' bestsellers. Why? Because it's a bacon-wrapped dog, that's why. Oh sure, there's tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, crema, and cheddar in there. But damn dude, bacon! Thanks to one customer's suggestion, the bacon-wrapped hot dog can be tossed in the deep fryer if you want! Heck, ask for a deep-fried dog on any dog!

It looks like Chris' menu may rotate, depending on the day. Other hot dog offerings include the "Benedict" ($5; Canadian bacon, two poached eggs, and hollandaise); and the "New York" ($3; spicy mustard, caramelized onions, and sauerkraut).

As of this post, these are Relish's hours:
Mon-Tue: Closed
Wed-Fri: 12 pm to 3 pm; 5 pm to 9 pm
Sat-Sun: 12 pm to 9 pm

Be on the lookout for daily or weekly specials. This is a cart heading in the right direction, and there should be even more creations on the horizon. Check out Relish Gourmet Hot Dogs at Cartlandia!

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