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#1
Posted August 31st 2007, 8:23pm
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Full disclosure: 1. Gus, the owner, is a member of the forum and a frequent visitor to the Evanston Lunch Group and other LTH events. 2. Gus is always on the lookout for a good idea - using (with my hearty permission) a recipe I posted after last year's picnic, now on the menu as both a fry sauce and the marinade for the much-anticipated Flatiron Steak sandwich. One of the things I love about WASC is Gus's willingness to think outside the box; from his excellent Falafel burger to the assortment of dipping sauces, he's pushing the dog stand envelope - IMHO, pushing it in the right direction.

That being said, I'm a sucker for solid, straight-up food that is done right. Gus has an excellent assortment of the basics: fries, natural casing hot dogs, thick juicy burgers, and corn dogs, all made with care you don't often see at a dog stand. His french fries are hand-cut on the premises and twice-fried; his corn-dogs are dipped before your eyes, and he carefully chooses the best breads on which to serve hamburgers. Apparently LTHers aren't the only ones who think highly of WASC: Gus's french fries were honored in a recent taste-off on Citysearch and his locationally challenged stand has appeared on the Hungry Hound.

Of course, nobody here is going to take the media's word for it! Those of us LTHrs who frequent WASC have a lot to say as well; it's appeared in the Best Thing You've Eaten Lately thread. Other threads to check out include
Fess up...Who did it
Wiener and Still Champion: Corn DogsGP60004's Wiener and Still Champion
Wiener and Still Champion
802 Dempster, Evanston
Tel: (847) 869-0100
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#2
Posted September 1st 2007, 2:02am
Mhays,

Having just polished off three racks of ribs, a couple of chickens* and more than a sip of wine I misread your nomination as Wiener's Circle and thought oy vey. Not that Wiener's Circle couldn't be nominated, it's just not one that springs to mind.

Now Wiener and Still Champion, that's a GNR in the making. I heartily second your most excellent nomination.

Enjoy,
Gary

*I'm visiting my brother and his brood and gave his WSM a full workout.
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#3
Posted September 3rd 2007, 12:06am
I'm lucky enough to live a short walk from Wiener and Still Champion. And - full disclosure - he asks me for help from time to time on marketing and PR issues. In exchange, he lets me try new menu items he's thinking about. But, no financial relationship.

But I’m not the only one who gets to try some of his new ideas. Many LTHers have been invited en masse to taste Polish Sausage from various providers, alternative versions in his development of Dippin’Dogs™ (his freshly-made corn dogs), and the variety of dipping sauces he offers for his excellent, fresh cut double-cooked fries.

Gus may be the ideal guy to run a place like WASC. He worked at his family's owned M and H Grill in Winnetka – a fixture in that community for 30 years. His father had a food truck feeding factory workers on the South Side. And before buying Wiener and Still Champion, he worked in product development for the quick service restaurant industry.

An excellent nomination, Mhays. Just one thing I have to add – in the Citysearch poll - which I don’t give extensive credence to, but anyway - Wiener and Still Champion came in #7 overall in the category “Best Fast Food” for the Chicagoland area.

But I'm still bothered that I couldn't get Gus to go on camera for his Hungry Hound segment.
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#4
Posted September 13th 2007, 4:51pm
The questions I ask myself when considering the worthiness of GNR nominees are these:

1) How does the nominee stack up against other restaurants in its category?

2) Would I travel beyond my own neighborhood (and past similar restaurants) to eat at the nominee?

3) Are there distinctive aspects of the nominee?

4) Is there an item (or items) the nominee serves that I find myself craving?

When considering The Wiener and Still Champion, the answer to all 4 questions is "yes."

I recently took the family to lunch at WaSC so that they could experience it and I could reorganize my thoughts about it . . .

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The Wiener and Still Champion is located at 802 Dempster in Evanston. As was posted above, it's 'locationally challenged' but still relatively easy to find.


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The interior is small but cozy and clean.


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#1 Combo Meal with a hand-dipped corn dog (aka 'Dipping Dog') add-on for only $1.00
This also comes with a medium fountain drink and is priced at $4.50. The natural casing dog had a wonderful snap to it and the bun was as soft as a cloud. The 'Dipping Dog' was just terrific, too. Most places offer a frozen version of a corn dog. At WaSC, they're made with fresh dogs, hand dipped and cooked to order. If you don't think that makes a difference, try one. This rendition is carefully thought-out, real food -- not just an accomodation for the kiddies.


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The #6 Combo Meal; a cheeseburger and fries, also with the 'Dipping Dog' option
Unlike at so many other hotdog stands, the burgers at WaSC are cooked lovingly and not obliterated. The quality of the meat allows for this type of reasonable cooking. At most places, you can only taste the char on the overcooked burger patties. At WaSC, you can taste the moist meat, too. The subtle seasoning on the burger highlights it without obscuring it. The soft, sesame seed bun is just about as fresh as can be. And I do enjoy the Merkt's cheese option very much.


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The #8 Combo Meal, featuring a Grilled Chicken Breast sandwich
This is another item of which most hotdog stands offer a lousy, perfunctory version as an accomodation. Here the chicken, which is taken seriously, is tasty and again, cooked properly so that it still contains moisture. It's not pre-marinated. It's fresh and it tastes like it. There's nothing to hide or apologize for with this sandwich.


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The briquettes under the cooking grates add quite a bit of flavor to WaSC's grilled sandwiches and help distinguish it from so many also-rans in its category.

The french fries alone are worth the trip. They are among the best I've had. They're hand-cut in the restaurant and dunked twice. They're remarkably crispy and tasty -- and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of salt. The extra steps taken here make all the difference in the world. These are fries that you simply cannot stop eating. Long after the sandwich is gone, they are great all the way to the very bottom of the basket in which they are served. If I go too long without them, I begin to crave them.

In a town where Vienna Beef stands are ubiquitous, the exceptional ones are few and far between. WaSC is one of the best. Across the board, the food is extremely well-prepared with great care, to order. It's immaculately fresh and reasonably priced. I live in Deerfield and I cannot even begin to accurately count the number of hotdog stands I drive past on my way to The Wiener and Still Champion. Just off the top of my head, I can think of about a dozen of them and I'm guessing there are even more than that. With the possible exception of 1, none of them are even in WaSC's league. This is a place that rises above its category and sets the bar. Based on the questions I posed above, there's no doubt in my mind that The Wiener and Still Champion is deserving of GNR designation.

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

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#5
Posted September 15th 2007, 5:44pm
Okay, so I didn't actually need to go to Wiener and Still Champion in order to hit all the GNR nominees by voting time, since mine is the first post linked to, but I did anyway, because I figured younger son would go for the corndog and I'd get to taste it that way.

Which sure enough he did. That's a damn fine corndog. I nearly ordered one myself, and I'm pretty much a one-corndog-a-year man.

But here's my other question. Is WASC frying their fries in l-a-r-d?

If they are, it would be a wonderful thing, to rebel against the spirit of their age and make a stand for the superiority of old school lard-fried fries. If they aren't, it would be an equally wonderful thing, to come so close to the flavor and texture of classic fries like Top Notch Beefburger's without actually doing so. I don't know the answer, but those are some mighty fine fries (they could maybe be crisped up just a little more, medium well, for my taste, but as far as flavor goes, mighty fine).
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#6
Posted September 15th 2007, 9:35pm
I don't want to out any of Gus's secrets, but he makes no bones that his fries and Falafel burger are "meatless" and NOT vegetarian. My inclination is you are partly right, but we may not be talking pig...
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#7
Posted September 15th 2007, 9:56pm
Soylent Green was on TV today. I'm just trying to let you know how that sounds.
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#8
Posted September 16th 2007, 3:58pm
Well, you know, it's the people that make the food... :D

(fyi - under no circumstances should anyone take the above two comments as anything other than tongue-in-cheek)
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#9
Posted September 17th 2007, 3:45pm
Like others who have posted, I have to issue a disclosure. As a fellow Evanston business owner, Gus & I often discuss business issues and exchange ideas.

Gus has worked hard to turn around what was a marginal operation before he took it over. It's been a highly successful effort. I think the the fries and Polish are outstanding. The atmosphere is definitely neighborhood and the prices are right.

I'm very happy to support this nomination.
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#10
Posted September 17th 2007, 3:55pm
I asked Gus about nominating WASC for a GNR.

gp60004 wrote:I think we are prolly another year away.


Gus is very humble. But at the same time, think of what that might mean for the next year there!
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#11
Posted September 17th 2007, 4:40pm
It really says something about the standards in a restaurant when the only voice of dissent in a GNR discussion is from the owner....
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#12
Posted September 21st 2007, 5:57pm
This is something of a rehash of the ol' "What makes a GNR" conversation, but for my $.02 it's a combination of three things: Quality, Value, and "it."

The concept of "it" can be hashed out elsewhere, and has been - like pornography, we know it when we see it. WaSC certainly has quality. I liked the fries very much, the corn - sorry, dippin' - dog was excellent. I like the option to have more than just ketchup/mustard.

Value? Absolutely. I felt I got every penny's worth of my $6 and change.

However, the "it?" I think to have a hotdogs/burgers/corndogs/grill type place in the GNRs, it has to absolutely blow you away in comparison to all the other places in the Chicago area. Classics like G&J's and have the heritage, Hot Doug's is its own little world of encased meats, but does that leave room for WaSC?

I don't know. Based on my one trip do I think there's anything there that I'm going to be running back for over and over again? I'm willing to give it a shot, but only at my leisure - I'm not impelled to weekly visits like I am at other GNR's. Please note that I don't consider this a negative review of WaSC - I enjoyed everything but nothing grabbed me by the duodenum and screamed "YOU WILL EAT THIS AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH."

All due respect to Gus, as I'm sure he's a fine person and a quality restauranteur - the previous posts certainly attest to that. He's definitely a valued member of this community, but I think I'm going to defer to his better judgement when he says upthread, "maybe in a year or so."

Edited to add: One pet peeve is that every time I google "Wiener and Still Champion" this is the first result I get.

"Wiener & Still Champion Evanston | Yelp
Wiener & Still Champion Reviews - "Every once in a while, I want to just eat nasty greasy food made by anyone capable of gripping a spatula."

Things like this drive me nuts because it's obviously not the case here - but it's the first thing that people see when they look for WaSC. It speaks volumes about the knowledge and discourse on LTH, and even more about Yelp.
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#13
Posted September 21st 2007, 6:31pm
whiskeybent wrote:He's definitely a valued member of this community, but I think I'm going to defer to his better judgement when he says upthread, "maybe in a year or so."


Yeah, that was from a private e-mail that I probably shouldn't have made public. I offered it up to show Gus' humble (maybe overly-humble) personality. I'm guessing Gus was referring to moving his fountain drinks to the counter, where the television is now, not to food quality.

I'm also guilty of revealing the Flatiron Steak Sandwich prematurely.

But the bottom line is that Wiener and Still Champion turns out exceptional food for the category and price level.

And the fact that he and I both went to Glenbrook South H.S. has nothing to do with my support of his GNR status.

And I'm confident, should WASC earn a GNR, Gus will be among the first to put that certificate in the front window.
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#14
Posted September 21st 2007, 9:54pm
whiskeybent wrote: I liked the fries very much, the corn - sorry, dippin' - dog was excellent. I like the option to have more than just ketchup/mustard.


Though, respectfully, whiskeybent - if you just went for the dippin dog, fries and sauces, good as they are, you only got part of the picture. I think the "it" factor comes in to play with innovations like the Falafel burger and flatiron steak sandwich (which, admittedly, is still only available only to secret-handshake-bearing LTHers) that aren't part of the usual dog stand menu. And Gus adds innovations carefully, always tweaking, but never losing sight of good, basic food.
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#15
Posted September 22nd 2007, 5:41am
Though, respectfully, whiskeybent - if you just went for the dippin dog, fries and sauces, good as they are, you only got part of the picture.


You may be absolutely right. But if WaSC is up for a GNR based on (can I come up with another acronym?) OMIs (off-menu items - I did it!), is that what is being done with the award? Or is it for across-the-board excellence, no matter who knows what's on or off the menu?

I know there was discussion elsewhere about awards for one or two really good items at a place - see Old Fashioned and their Fritters - versus the package deal. Is this part of the same argument? Again - I enjoyed my visit, and with the retrospect of a few more hours I could see myself ending up there if I'm ever in Evanston over a lot of other places.

These are my data points. Powers that be, do with them what you will.
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#16
Posted September 22nd 2007, 8:23am
I'm going to abuse the power of a mod to briefly unlock this and say that while the off menu items are nice, and obviously we rate some places based on "secret" menus etc., I think evaluation for the award has to be primarily on things available to the general public (as, ultimately, the secret menus at Thai GNRs are).

Let's continue this here:

http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... 051#132051
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#17
Posted February 16th 2009, 8:46pm
This was originally my pic, obviously if you read up on the original thread, you'll see I'm still a regular. WASC is about to make its national television debut, and is still delivering consistently top-notch food, especially the hand-cut fries. It's still my GNR pic.
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#18
Posted February 17th 2009, 11:28am
To me, this is a no-brainer. Not only can you get the perfectly-executed, quintessential Chicago dog at WaSC, but its an innovative place with all sorts of original offerings and their quality is extremely high. Add to that what are -- in my estimation -- consistently the best french fries in Chicagoland and you've got a natural GNR.

Yes on a renewal for the aptly-named Wiener & Still Champion :wink:

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#19
Posted February 18th 2009, 6:54pm
Wiener and Still Champion is definitely a GNR. I have become addicted to the french fries, dippin dogs and cheeseburgers. (I'm hoping there is no 12-step program for this as I don't want to give up this addition). :D WASC is a GNR because the "basic" menu is always stellar and of the best quality, however, it's the fact that Gus is always refining and and looking to add new and interesting offerings to his menu, for example the chili bombs and deep fried gyros. Yes on the renewal.
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#20
Posted February 19th 2009, 12:15am
I've thought about moving to Evanston to be closer to WaSC.

It's my personal definition of what a GNR should be.
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#21
Posted February 19th 2009, 4:26am
Can we award a 'best GNR' award? If so I vote WASC.

*And if you say "hey there Jay...we cant compare apples to oranges"....well apples are better and oranges make a darn good juice but one wins, confusing I know and thats why WASC wins. Think about it... :roll:
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#22
Posted September 19th 2011, 4:50am
This place is up for renewal of its GNR. Please post your comments here until 10/10/11.
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#23
Posted September 20th 2011, 5:09pm
Gus just keeps getting more creative with his offerings .. and no one runs a fryer better. Should be a slam-dunk renewal.
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#24
Posted September 23rd 2011, 3:39pm
Jayz wrote:Can we award a 'best GNR' award? If so I vote WASC.

*And if you say "hey there Jay...we cant compare apples to oranges"....well apples are better and oranges make a darn good juice but one wins, confusing I know and thats why WASC wins. Think about it... :roll:


I know this is an old quote, but it is still apropos....
Deep fried bacon alone qualifies WASC in my book
you go Gus...
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#25
Posted September 30th 2011, 11:11am
A definite renewal in my book. Gus always draws me back, even when I've said "I've had enough for a while". The food is consistently excellent. Gus is creative with his menu and constantly trying/adding new items...just to keep things interesting. WaSC has my vote for renewal.
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#26
Posted October 4th 2011, 12:33pm
On the strength of Gus's french frying skills alone, I support WaSC for GNR renewal.
--Rich
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#27
Posted October 4th 2011, 3:26pm
RAB wrote:On the strength of Gus's french frying skills alone, I support WaSC for GNR renewal.
--Rich

I agree and the burgers are mighty fine, too.

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#28
Posted October 5th 2011, 11:54pm
Not to mention the genius of the deep-fried chili. Thumbs up for a renewal from me.
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#29
Posted October 7th 2011, 11:34am
ronnie_suburban wrote:
RAB wrote:On the strength of Gus's french frying skills alone, I support WaSC for GNR renewal.
--Rich

I agree and the burgers are mighty fine, too.

=R=


Corn dogs for me. Yes on renewal.
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#30
Posted October 7th 2011, 1:43pm
I like it when Mr. X calls me on the way back from golf and asks if he should pick up something from Wiener and Still Champion. The answer is always yes. It even travels well. Yes to renewal.
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