**End of year continues to mean restaurant closures. While it wasn't my favorite, it did have its fans, but after 7 years Show Dogs has been shown the door. That part of Market St. continues its slow move out of sketchy town***
Mid Market, that sometimes seedy, sometimes sketchy part of town between 5th and 8th streets is currently going through what folks call "a transitional period." Old abandoned buildings are finally being taken down and others are built in their place bringing a different vibe to the area. The recent opening of Twitter's offices there has also pushed the process along quicker as of late. 4 years ago it was still a risk to move into the area and Show Dogs took that chance and is still there today.
When it opened it had a bit of fanfare, mostly due to the location and it had been on my radar awhile to give it a try--eventually. My procrastination finally dissolved and on a random Saturday I made my way over to see if they were still slinging tasty sausages. It's a interesting little corner they've got with the glass all around as the area is still "lively" so I figured if nothing else I'd have some interesting folks and a bit of street life I could watch while I noshed. The specialize in hand made signature dogs which are actually sausages and I decided to try the sausage plate which would get me 2 dogs, sauerkraut and a choice of side for $15.
I picked the basil chicken, the smoked merguez with a side of house made onion rings. It was a pretty hearty portion so that was a plus, but sadly, I tell you now that was about the only plus. The good I can say were the onion rings. Hand dipped, freshly made everyday they were the highlight of what I had here. The batter was like a light cornmeal coating, not a heavy beer batter and they were cut thin and not chunky. They were crisp, crunchy and a bit onion sweet--I could easily have eaten a whole plate of these by themselves. The basil chicken was just that--BASIL, BASIL, BASIL! If you don't like basil don't get, it was the flavor that pretty much over rode anything thing else in it including the chicken. There was so much basil I could barely finish one of them, it was just too much and became cloying.
The smoked merguez wasn't any better, in fact it was actually worse. It's a mixture of beef and Moroccan spices like cumin, garlic, fennel and in this case way too much clove. So much so that it left a severe bitter aftertaste that I could not get rid of--overwhelming is not a strong enough term. I just found it to be inedible. For both of these sausages I even tried using some of their special serrano ketchup (which had a great kick I liked) but even that did not help. And, ugh, don't even get me started on the sauerkraut--it was one of the worst things I've ever had--I'll stand my ground on that. I enjoy a good kraut, either cold or warm with purple cabbage but this was neither of those. Bitter, sour, pungent and did I say BITTER?
Basically except for the onion rings I didn't finish anything else on the plate. One of the guys who works there asked if everything was okay and we had a nice chat about what just didn't taste right to me. He was very nice and said yes the flavors can be strong and offered to gladly bring me something else. I asked what he recommended and he said the smoked wild boar with bits of cherries in it was good, so I said sure why not.
At first I was intrigued as I've had boar with cherry sauce before in this town and it can be tasty. What he failed to also mention was that the sausage also had what looked like chopped capers and I think fennel seeds (might of been caraway seeds). I couldn't taste the cherries in this at all. Either way, the mix just did not taste pleasant. This was another sausage with a strong bitter aftertaste, it seems to be a theme. It's like they've ramped up the spice flavors so much you can't taste any of the actual meat they are mixed with. Again I tried mix with different ketchup and mustard but still to no avail. Every bite seemed to end in a bitterness that lingered long after I left the place.
I don't know, maybe my taste buds were just having an off day but I did really like the onion rings and the place does have some good happy hour beer specials and the serrano ketchup is a great condiment. The sausages I had, however, I just can't recommend. Sadly these dogs showed a bite that wasn't pleasurable and considering where it's located I probably won't be venturing back again. But hey, everyone has different likes and if these are for you then they are all yours.