By Shawna Wagman
When Hintonburger opened in 2010, it was the first time in at least 30 years that I had seen a batter-dipped hot dog on a stick outside of the grocer’s freezer. I thought it was pretty clever that the burger shack was making them fresh, from scratch, rather than serving the frozen ready-made Pogo brand many of us devoured as kids. Not wanting to deprive my daughter of the experience, I ordered a Fat Cat corn dog for her and watched her eyes light up with glee as she gripped the stick in her tiny hand and dunked the whole monstrosity in ketchup before gnawing away at the thick deep-fried coating and the steaming wiener within.
Since that day, I have noticed the nostalgia-inducing nosh popping up in some surprising places. First, there was Brut Cantina Sociale, a new French-Canadian tapas joint on Promenade du Portage in the centre of Hull. They created a signature pogo (shown above) with the telltale cornmeal coating and requisite stick, but inside it was the decadent house sausage made from duck confit and foie gras. The trio of condiments was homemade, too, with sweet apple jelly giving ketchup and cranberry mustard a run for their money.
When I next found myself at Play Food & Wine for dinner, my eyes were drawn to the lamb corn dog on the menu. It arrived sans stick but turned out to be a delicious crispy-coated spicy merguez sausage, sliced elegantly in two and served with very grown-up miso mustard and a zucchini and tomato relish that no kid would touch.
And, finally, I spotted something called Pogo Balls on chef Michael Frank’s opening menu at Mellos’ trendy new Supper Club, bringing the 70-year-old diner full circle and into the 21st century.
Hintonburger, 1096 Wellington St. W., 613-724-4676.
Brut Cantina Sociale, 131, prom. du Portage, Gatineau, 819-205-6300.
Play Food & Wine, 1 York St., 613-667-9207.
Mellos Supper Club, 290 Dalhousie St., 613-241-1909.