Restaurant Review: Rippers Roadstand
There are lots of ways to cook a hot dog. You could grill it like they do at Daredevil Dogs. Other joints plump them with water. For desperation dining, hot dog cooking is often a microwave event.
At Rippers Roadstand, a new joint near OSU, the kitchen deep fat fries the hot dogs. Of all the ways to cook a hot dog, the option to take the fatty meat and cook it in more pure bubbling, hot oil — that never seemed like an option… until now.
The new Rippers is the second in existence. The first one is in Florida. Columbus is acclaimed for its steady supply of good-eating lab rats, so its initial expansion to the well-known test market makes sense. The menu options are priced right for college budget; lots of items are under five bucks. The protocol is for guests to order at the counter, and pick up at the other counter.
So, about the deep fat fried hotdogs: not as greasy as you might expect. They’re juicy, to be sure, but the hot dog skin protects them from becoming pure grease sponges. In the frier, the dogs get a crispy finish that offers an extra pop in every bite. True to the moniker, the cooking treatment also causes the hot dogs to spontaneously split up the middle (for what it’s worth, my advanced microwave skills have the same effect). The best way to start is to just go with the basic The Ripper Dog ($2.99): the aforementioned fried hot dog, soft nondescript bun, and you can add a little ketchup and mustard to help it go down.
You can also dress it up, which seems like a good idea to better distinguish it from a dime-a-dog offering. The a Chili Ripper ($3.75 — pictured at the very top) is smothered in a meaty beef chili that soaks nicely into the bun.
Burgers are a bargain. They are also small; maybe the size of two sliders -so consider adding on an extra patty and an up-charge. The meat is the natural kind, sort of old-fashioned, in the soft traditional bun. If you order the Mushroom Swiss ($4.94), it comes with a melted slice of cheese and sautéed mushrooms. The Bacon Cheeseburger starts at ($5.45), but go ahead and double its guts for an extra $2.20. Then you’ll have two patties, double cheese, and four crunchy strips of bacon. The two bucks takes the combo from underwhelming to binge-worthy.
Fries ($3.29) and Onion Rings ($4.49) are both options. The fries are good (hot and crisp), but the onion rings were the table favorite. First, because they’re a little less common than french fries. Second, because an order delivers a pile of crunchy beer-battered shells that envelope soft onions: spot-on.
The biggest treat, however, is the Jersey Bacon Kraut ($4.95). This is very good news for New Jersey, especially given the antics of Chris Christie and the Jersey Shore cast. If New Jersey is going to be famous for something, it should probably promote Rippers Bacon Kraut. It’s found in the fries section of the menu, and for that reason, I thought it was going to arrive as kraut-covered fries. No, an order yielded a giant mountain of 100% ecru-colored bacon speckled kraut. It is not the most appetizing dish to behold. It is, however, impossible to stop eating. It offers the mild bite of sauerkraut tempered with the smoky brine of bacon. It totally changes the sauerkraut scene into something that could compete with french fries for stomach space.
Also, there’s beer and wine. You can pair Merlot with your hotdog if you’re classy like that.
If you need fine dining or prefer local artisanal foods, this spot is not for you. If you’re adding items to your culinary repertoire, this is a good place to stop. It’s relatively inexpensive and kind of fun, and it’s appealing in the way that salty junk food is typically appealing.
You can find it at 2036 North High Street in the University District.
For more information, visit www.rippersroadstand.com.
Photos by Walker Evans.