The missive that had come from Scotland Yard was to investigate a small yet already highly popular foodhouse on 21st. and Larimer St. in Downtown Denver. 'Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs' was, it appeared, was purporting to be a variant of a Hot Dog Biker Bar yet had been attracting and thoroughly satisfying patrons of all demographics .... couples, college students, sports enthusiasts, even families! There was something askew with this operation, perhaps a little of the time honored ruse of the bait and switch at work we suspected, and determining this sleight of hand was what Watson and I were charged with.
So as not to draw too much attention to our investigating selves, we chose to adorn ourselves with a coterie of lowly characters to keep any suspecting eyes off-balance. For this case, in addition to Rachael, Duchess of Downing, I chose to include our little group of neighborhood charlatans, the Baker St. Irregulars, who had a healthy appetite for nearly anything served either fast or slow, hot or cold, even edible or not.... therefore it posed to be the perfect assignment for them!
Upon learning of our case, a wave of skepticism passed over the furrowed brow of my friend Dr. Watson, whose Vegan manner has now taken on an almost mystical aire. What could my old friend possibly find here that could help his gastronomic predisposition he wondered? And with personal experience with this 'Biker Jim' character, I too was unsure as well.
"Fret not" I heard the Duchess forswear to the acceptability of the foodstuffs of this Denver favorite to even the Vegans among us. And so the six members of our brigade made their way separately to this downtown location to investigate.
Biker Jim's is posited in a brick storefront location with large, open air front windows that gives one an inviting temperament, a lure to the potentially unsuspecting perhaps! Yet its easy 2 block walk from Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, continually deposited a steady stream of hungry flotsam both to and fro for Biker Jim's trickery to ensue.
One's expected 'Hot Dog' familiarity ends upon arrival as you are at once struck by both the simplicity of the ordering system and the immediacy of the 'we're not in Kansas anymore' aura...... With WYSWIG simplicity one is instructed thru the A,B,C's of the ordering process......Choose a Dog from Menu 1, add a topping from Menu 2, sides from Menu 3, drinks from menu 4.......all of which will directly lead you to the counter where you pay for your choices and await your called number. It seemed simple enough.
Until the 'Gourmet Dog' choices on Menu 1 make themselves available to you: a Rattlesnake and Pheasant Hot Dog? Alaskan Reindeer? Duck Cilantro?........ what manner of her Majesty's Royal Canteen was this? Everywhere one looked there was seemingly no escape, there was resplendent variety far exceeding even selections my morphine induced dreams could conjure up!
And there was still more! Reindeer? Pheasant? Veal? The Weiner Wellington! It's description read 'A Steak Brat with a mushroom duxelle in a puff pastry with'........ oh save me please... 'a bordelaise drizzle!' Good Heavens this place WAS an astounding find!
Are they serious? Wild BOAR with apricots and cranberries?? I must have been hallucinating I thought! The menus sported 13 'Basic' dogs in all, 2 'Deluxe' dogs (The Bat Dog and the Weiner Wellington) as well as two Burger choices (The 'Street Burger' with it's Poblano Crispy Onions and the 'High Mountain Burger' with Stilton Blue Cheese and Bacon Orange Marmalade).
And STILL not complete it also included kid friendly menu choices and yes, even something for the Vegan amongst us! (Watson, come quickly!)
With the Baker St. Irregulars having raced British Mini's out on the fruited plains for the past 24 hours at High Plains Raceway, Little Mickey Bill chose the Elk Jalapeño Chedder Dog with the Jim's Classic topping of carmelized onion and cream cheese while his partner in crime, Street Legal Harry O'Mani opted for the fairly pedestrian All Beef Dog, albeit wrapped in bacon. However, BOTH these charlatans chose a spry side dish of Deep Fried Mac N' Cheese...something usually found only in county fairs in the deep south and/or lodged into the tracheas of emergency room CPR victims. Yet 'Biker Jim' treated this like the connoisseur that he is and it's crispy yet velvety smoothness again turned convention on it's head.
Watson then predictably chose the 'Vegan Dog', mild rather than spicy, but with the 'Desert' topping of Harissa Roasted Cactus with Malaysian Jam, Scallions, Cilantro and Onions Two Ways. The Duchess took in the Alaskan Reindeer Dog, also with the Desert Topping as well while her trusted confidante Sir William Lennon also chose the Vegan....appropriately and surreptitiously 'Chopra' cooled to his own specifications.
Stepping to the counter and putting caution to the wind I decided to stretch the boundaries of acceptability and chose the Rattlesnake Pheasant Dog with the Sonoran Top - Pintos, Tomatoes, Onions, and Jalapeno's with mustard and mayo and a Mixed Green salad side. And to slake a High Plains Thirst a Blue Ribbon Pabst Tall Boy, the renaissance of which has simply astounded the brewing world and is a paeon to the marketing greatness exhibited in every can (and at every Rodeo!)
Yet I was quickly outdone with the Baker St. Irregulars sequestering the day's drink special - a Lemon Napalm Margarita, with it's three levels of liquid deliverance - Lemonade for thirst, Tequila for ease of mind, and Jalapeno's for the final kick! It will be my sworn statement to my dying day that I witnessed a small mushroom cloud exit one Baker St. Irregular.....in a very irregular fashion!
Stumbling back onto the street we were again transported back into reality and the lot of us looked back into Biker Jim's wistfully and with a fierce determination to return, and next time with a much larger entourage.