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  • The Par 4 Sundae at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The VIC-tory Dog at The Stand in Waynedale with coleslaw, bacon, shredded cheese and a sweet barbecue sauce.

  • The Greek Dog at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The Stand has been a longtime favorite fair-weather spot in Waynedale.

  • The Boom Boom Dog at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • A cotton-candy dipped cone at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • A birthday cake batter-dipped cone at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The Caramel Apple Sundae at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The Taco in a Bag at The Stand in Waynedale was hard to get to.

  • Chili 4-way at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The sticky-swet General Tso's sauce worked well with the Coney sauce and onions in the Kung Fu dog at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The homemade coleslaw at The Stand in Waynedale was excellent.

  • Chicken tortilla soup at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The potato soup at The Stand in Waynedale.

  • The onion rings at The Stand in Waynedale were soggy.

Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:00 am

Drive-in stands alone in hot dog variations

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

The Stand

***

Out of a possible five

$

It's a sure sign of spring – sort of.

Not long after The Stand “Coneys and Ice Cream” opens for the season in the Waynedale area, the lines start forming outside this popular little drive-in spot. Never mind that it opened in February, which is hardly spring by anyone's measure.

There are really only a handful of months that owners Skip Sandels and Mike Palmer shut the place down – it closed the first week of November last year. But for those who love it, that time seems like an eternity.

There isn't anything complicated about what The Stand serves – hot dogs, nachos, fries and the like – but the fancy fixins that can be had is what makes this place so special.

Like Coney dogs? Yes, they have them, and good ones, too, with a peppery zip. But how about a Coney with General Tso's sauce – the Kung Fu Dog – or a hot dog with tzatziki, tomatoes and shaved gyro meat – the Greek Dog?

The Kung Fu was worth doing a roundhouse kick over. The sticky sweet sauce combined with meaty Coney sauce and raw onions, which to me were key, made it fantastic.

The Greek also hit the right spot with the raw onion and tomatoes being a must for this creation. I loved what the spice-infused gyro beef added, given the dogs there are pretty standard fare. There may have been a little too much tzatziki, but that was a minor flaw.

Other dogs I had to try:

• Boom Boom – A Coney topped with the orange, creamy, slightly spicy sauce that is one of my favorites on chicken wings. It worked well on a dog, too.

• VIC-tory: It had The Stand's VIC-tory Sauce, a sort of sweet barbecue. Palmer's son, Ryan, is a manager at The Stand and an assistant football coach at Bishop Luers. He said the sauce recipe came from Luers supporters Lee and Vicky Rodenbeck and is named in honor of her because of all the cookies and brownies she has brought the team over the years. Besides the sauce, it had bacon, shredded cheese and a pile of the drive-in's fantastic coleslaw (more on that later). It may have been my favorite dog of all. It was cheesy, creamy, salty, sweet, tangy and crunchy.

• Parm Garlic – This one was just weird with a creamy Parmesan garlic dressing of some sort joining the Coney sauce and onions. It wasn't my cup of tea.

Even the ice cream gets some unexpected treatment if you are into dipped cones. Now we all have had chocolate dipped ones, and there are several places that do cherry or butterscotch, too. But where else are you going to get one dipped in sprinkle-laden birthday cake batter shell? Or how about cotton candy? Or peanut butter?

Game. Changed.

Speaking of peanut butter, I cannot recommend the Par 4 sundae highly enough. A dish of The Stand's creamy vanilla was topped with hot fudge, creamy peanut butter sauce, Spanish peanuts and whipped cream. The combination of that warm fudge and the peanut butter was magical.

The Caramel Apple Sundae does not get a nod, however. This creation combined the drive-in's thick, gooey caramel sauce over green apple Flavor Burst ice cream. In another example of The Stand's unexpected offerings, several flavors of Flavor Burst – an ice cream injected with gel-like flavor swirls that form colorful stripes around it – are available daily. The apple flavoring was more sweet than tart so the whole sundae was a sugar bomb.

You would be hard-pressed to find better milkshakes anywhere. The peanut butter and hot fudge, which is probably my favorite type of shake ever, were thick from start to finish and there was no shortage of either ingredient.

The biggest disappointment was the Taco in a Bag. I love these little treats – sometimes called walking tacos – usually made by splitting a Fritos bag from top to bottom along one side and topping the chips with taco meat or chili, cheese, lettuce and/or tomatoes and sour cream. At The Stand, it was made with Doritos, which I was on board with, but it was only topped with seasoned meat and cheese sauce. There was no necessary sour cream and it needed lettuce or shredded cheese instead of sauce because the chips were way too soggy. And it was split across the top, which made it hard to dig down and get to the goods.

The onions rings had the same problem – sogginess. I quit after tasting just two of them to make sure it wasn't just one that was bad. The french fries were sort of forgettable, too, so next time I will opt for soup or slaw on the side.

That slaw had a mix of white and red cabbage that was really crunchy despite being drenched in a tasty mayonnaise-heavy dressing. Ryan Palmer said that delicious slaw recipe was borrowed from another family friend from Nick's Junction in Roanoke where it is also served.

The Stand offers chili and potato soup daily and sometimes a third du jour variety. The potato was excellent as it was dotted with thyme and parsley and was chock-full of bacon crumbles. It was also deftly seasoned to not be too salty with all of that bacon. The daily offering of chicken tortilla also won favor as it had a spicy red base and plenty of black beans and corn.

I had the chili as part of another meal option, the four-way, which had it over spaghetti with shredded cheese and diced onions. The chili is very timid in spice and a little sweet. It worked great with the shredded cheddar and onions, but the noodles were a little overcooked.

So I will just stick to the dogs from now on, and I won't grow tired of trying new versions. I only have about 20 more to go.

Restaurant: The Stand “Coneys & Ice Cream”

Address: 5200 Bluffton Road

Phone: 747-7300

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (seasonal)

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Milkshakes ($3.45; $3.85; $4.65), dipped cones ($1.85; $2.55; $2.85; $3.15), Par 4 sundae ($3.95; $4.25; $4.55), Caramel Apple sundae ($3.75; $4.05; $4.35), Coney ($1.59), Boom Boom dog ($2.25), Kung Fu ($2.25), Greek ($2.75), Parm Garlic ($2.25), VIC-tory ($2.75), soup ($3.25; $3.75), chili 4-way ($4.65), taco in bag ($2.75), slaw ($2.65; $3.35)

Rating breakdown: Food: *1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: * (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.