The first time I had a can of root beer, I was suddenly presented with an anomaly. All the root beer I drank as a youth had been at the local carhop drive-in places (like A & W). What surprised me so much was how hard it was to drink the soda without having to burp incessantly or the burning sensation that the overly carbonated soda caused when I swallowed. To this day, I have to let a newly opened can of soda sit for a few minutes to allow some of the carbonation to escape before I can drink it. The weird thing about my youthful root beer memories was that I remember the frosty cold mugs of sweet nectar having carbonation, but not so much that they weren't smooth and drinkable from the minute you got them.
Besides the nationwide chain A & W, a local Akron chain called B & K still has some drive up stands in the area. I choose to go today to the one on Monroe Falls Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls:
Once you pull in, as with most drive-in places, you turn your lights on for service and decide what you want from the menu posted on the wall:
They have your usual fare, burgers, dogs, and chicken sandwiches. Today I was in the mood for two things: a coney dog and a mug of frosty cold root beer. While perusing the menu, I also noticed that they sell kraut dogs. Well, damn, that sounded good, too! When my waitress hustled over to take my order, I got one of each.
Here is the window tray she brought back just a few minutes later:
Can't you just already taste that wonderful root beer?
Since I was doing the knee balancing trick for my photographs, I decided to take a swig out of the mug to make it a little more stable. Yummmm! Sweet and creamy, this brought instant memories of my youth to mind. Nothing in a can or 2-liter bottle can even come close to this. Next time I go back, I may just have to guild the lily even more and get a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make the ultimate concoction, the root beer float.
On to the dogs! I have to say that both hot dogs were very moist. When you keep meat in a hot water bath until service, sometimes that can actually dry out the dogs. Not in this case. Both versions of the dog were absolutely juicy and tender.
The coney dog was first:
The coney sauce was excellent, similar to a Sloppy Joe type consistency, but actually the meat was a bit more finely ground. It had a lovely saltiness and spiciness that worked well with the sweetness of the root beer.
Finally, the kraut dog:
When I first bit into it, I was surprised to discover the presence of black pepper in the kraut. The salt and acid of the kraut were well controlled. The overall balance on this dog was pretty darn good, given that it was just a hot dog with sauerkraut on it. Honestly, the thought of a coney dog was what brought me in to B & K, but I left equally as impressed with the kraut dog.
Next time you are in the mood for a really good coney or kraut dog or just want to indulge in a wonderful treat like the root beer, I recommend you check out one of the several Akron locations of B & K to get your fill. Nostalgia can sometimes make you overlook a mediocre experience, but in this case, it just proved how good it was all along.