The Haute & The Dog Brings Gourmet Wieners, Baked Fries to N. Damen Ave.

By Alisa Hauser on January 25, 2013 11:14am | Updated on January 25, 2013 3:14pm

WICKER PARK — Three guys staked out a new hot dog joint on the southwest corner of Potomac and Damen avenues and waited not so patiently for it to open.

"We just told [the owner] that if he didn't open today, we would throw bricks through the window with a note saying, 'liars!' " said Chris Mueller, 25, a Groupon customer service employee by day and an actor by night.

Mueller and his three roommates were among the first customers to check out The Haute & The Dog at 1252 N. Damen Ave. on its opening day Wednesday.

Armed with a case of Bud Light, and initially planning to dine in (the restaurant is BYOB), the men who trekked out in zero-degree weather decided to take the party and their dogs across the street to their apartment, where they said they've been keeping close tabs on their new neighbor.

For the last three years, the space was home to Bagel on Damen, but nightclub veteran Dion Antic, owner of The Haute & The Dog, used his firm Re-Brand to change the concept a few months ago.

"I was tired of getting calls at 7 a.m. from staff, and three years was enough time to run Bagels on Damen," Antic said.

Antic used repurposed materials to outfit the new venture, including a long church pew that fits along the back wall, wood salvaged from an Amish farm in Michigan and antiques from Roadtrip, a shop he owns at 1920 N. Damen Ave.

Street cart vendor Scottie Moran of Carnal Swine, which is known for its secret recipe that uses Dr Pepper, was tapped to help create the menu and now works full time in the kitchen.

Those expecting Vienna beef hot dogs and greasy fries be forewarned: Antic has chosen to "explore more unique brands" and went with Oscherwitz beef frankfurters and local sausage makers Chef Martin, Amylu and Big Fork.

At least for now, the french fries are baked and not fried, which cuts about 60 percent of the fat, according to Antic, though he added he's not sure if the baked fries will be permanent. He hopes customers will explore other options to accompany their hot dogs, bratwurst or sausages, too, like baked beans and succatash.

 Roommates Chris Mueller (from l.), Scott Merchant and  Jerrod Albright live across the street from The Haute & The Dog, 1252 N. Damen Ave., and were eagerly awaiting its opening day Wednesday.
Roommates Chris Mueller (from l.), Scott Merchant and  Jerrod Albright live across the street from The Haute & The Dog, 1252 N. Damen Ave., and were eagerly awaiting its opening day Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Menu highlights include a green chili mac and cheese dog, which is a jumbo dog served with poblano peppers and mac and cheese, and "The Swine," which is piled with street vendor Carnal Swine's pulled pork and sweet relish.

All items range from $3 to $5, and sides are priced at $2 solo or $1.50 with the purchase of a dog.

For vegetarians, anything on the menu can be made without meat. The Haute & The Dog uses Morningstar brand for its veggie dogs.

To wash everything down, drinks includes cans of pop as well as specialty bottles of pop such as Dang!, a butterscotch root beer, and Green River.

The Haute & The Dog is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. BYOB, cash only (ATM on premises). The phone number is 312-720-8185.

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