I heard “a new hot dog place” had opened up near work. I wasn’t super-excited until I read somewhere, I can’t remember where, that the tater tots were amazing. Hot dogs and brats? Eh. I don’t particularly care for either. Meat with a skin kind of weirds me out. All personal skin issues aside, though, I have eaten my share of hot dogs and some brats and I don’t detest them. I’d just prefer a cheeseburger. Anyway, since I got to pick Bossa Grill last week, I agreed to Linkhaus this week. Hey, you never know, right?
“Napoleon, give me some of your tots.”
First impressions walking into Linkhaus were pretty cool. The front and back of the store are windows, which will let in lots of light. Well, actually, because of the way the building’s laid out the front and back of the store is actually the sides of the store… But I’m not sure that’s relevant. It’s a very shiny place, with lots of metals, tiles and other hard surfaces. I’m not sure if urban is the right description. Lots of tables in the center of the room. To one end was the register and soda fountains. To the other was a bar. WHAT? A bar! Booyah!
The layout didn’t put you at the register (or a menu) upon entering. But that wasn’t really an issue because they weren’t packed or anything. The menu’s displayed on three flat panel TVs behind the counter. But they’re set to the side of the register so I think even if they had been busy there still would have been room for looking and ordering simultaneously. This MAY cause issues with looking, ordering and sending out food because food orders are called out by number and picked up in the same area. But, like I said, none of this was an issue. I’m not an expert in building design or anything. Just giving my initial perceptions.
Alright, so there were twelve specialty dogs (hot dogs, brats and Polish sausage) listed on the menu, ranging in price from $5.50 to $6.50. You can also order “naked” brats and hot dogs and pick your own toppings. Some toppings, like pickles, onions, mustard and ketchup are free. Other toppings like cheese, peppers, sauerkraut and chili are 50 cents per item. They also offer meatless brats and hot dogs as well as 100% all beef skinless hot dogs (I didn’t see THIS option until after I ordered or I would have gone that route!). There are also seasonal brats. And sliders (which are 3 deli style mini hot dogs with various preset toppings). There’s also one dessert option (beignets), salads and a breakfast menu.
And then there’s the extensive tots menu! You can get Tex-Mex Tots (with jack cheese, pico and jalapenos), All American Tots (cheddar cheese and tomatoes) and Chili Tots. Or you can get “naked” tots in salted, spicy cajun or garlic. The naked tots come in three sizes. After I ordered I also saw there are various dipping sauces (sour cream and chives, blue cheese, nacho cheese, ranch, spring roll sauce, creamy horsradish). You know this girl would have been all over nacho cheese!
Anyway, I finally decided on the South of the Border Dog. It’s a chorizo style brat (yes, even after I ordered and didn’t really care for chorizo at Riverside Cafe Too) with red onions, jack cheese, avocado wedges, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos. Sounds yummy, right? Yeah, I know. I wish I had asked about switching our brats for hot dogs and whatnot, but I didn’t. Since all of these are similar in price I assume you could, especially since they can all be substituted with the meatless and 100% beef options. But I can’t guarantee anything.
Now here’s my first complaint. You spend six bucks on a hot dog/brat and it doesn’t come with anything. I know it’s a huge hot dog, but tater tots can’t be that expensive. Throw a few in. Or give a smaller option. The smallest option was way too much for one person. I ended up buying the smallest order of naked tots, cajun flavor. I’m not complaining about cost. If I wanted fast food I would have gotten fast food. I just wish someone at the counter would have said, “Hey, these are pretty big orders of tater tots. You guys (we were clearly a group of four) could easily share them.” But, I digress. Well, really, I don’t. We were openly Linkhaus virgins. And just like my complaint at Tsubasa, give us a little direction!
Alright, so food comes out and this is where I get REALLY pissed. When we were ordering our food I kept saying, “So these are just hot dogs and we have to order tater tots separate, right?” And then I asked if they were ordering separate. There were two workers standing there. No one spoke. When our hot dogs came out, they had sides of tater tots in them. I’m not sure if this is normal? Or if they had overflow and gave them to us because each of us ordered and order of tots. Or what the hell was going on. All I know is the amount of tots in the tray with my brat was more than enough for me. I didn’t even need the “regular” order I also got. So, feedback to Linkhaus if you’re listening. 1. If you already offer this small amount with all/some of the brats, say so on the menu and/or train your staff! 2. If you don’t offer these already, you should! That little portion is more than enough. Offer it for 99 cents or something. It was maybe an ounce (the regular tots are four ounces). Hey, I’m just sayin’.
OK, onto the review of the food. My brat was “eh.” I’m not a huge hot dog or brat fan, like I said. So I wasn’t expecting to become a convert, but it wasn’t really flavorful at all. The toppings were really good, but the bun broke and most of the pico fell out the bottom. The cheese had a nice flavor, the jalapenos a kick, and the avocados.. Oh, the avocados! And the bun was soft and delicious as well. The tots were out of this world. Crunchy and tasty. The cajun ones didn’t really taste spicy, but they weren’t bad or anything. I just don’t know that I would have known they were a special flavor if I hadn’t ordered them that way.
Other items of note: They have Strawberry Fanta and Mello Yellow. For some reason they don’t have ketchup, mustard and everything else at the tables. I found this very strange. They had one thing of each item in a center area. Unless they’re trying to work on a clean look, why not put these on the tables? It’s not super convenient to stop at that little island. Just a small detail. They had something called “spicy ketchup.” I didn’t personally think it was spicy, but I have a somewhat high tolerance for spice.
I like the idea of beer+tots or beer+dog combo. And I really liked the separate bar area. I’m not sure what drink specials, if any, they have. I may or may not go back for that. I definitely won’t go back just to eat a brat again. For me and my personal tastes, it wasn’t worth it. And that was the general consensus at the table. A bit pricey for a hot dog or brat. Adding a few tots in would have alleviated the $12 lunch bill we all had.
One thing I’d go back for is breakfast. They have a decent selection. And although I don’t need tator tots in my life, I think an egg/tots/something combo sounds amazing! And those prices seem more manageable or realistic for a non-dinner meal.
Check out their full menu here. I actually dug the layout and functionality of the menu.
Bottom line: The food’s not awful, but I felt underwhelmed. I’m not a huge hot dog or brat fan, but even the guys said they weren’t super-excited about what they got. Tots were good. I wish a very small order were included on the side of all hot dogs or brats. I might go back for breakfast.
Front of the restaurant. The menus to order are hard to see behind the soda fountain. But brats are prepared in that area, and picked up back there, too.
My South of the Border Dog and some tots with spicy ketchup. See what I mean about a small side of tots in with my brat? More than enough for me.
Tex-Mex Tots with jack cheese, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos
Close up of the Tex-Mex tots.
Horsradish Brat (Polish sausage, toasted hoagie roll, mustard, horseradish sauce, radish slices) and, again, a small side of tots.