2653 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Cabot Annex, Waterbury, 882-8016
Vermont is always just a little bit behind on national culinary trends. Hot dogs with quirky, homemade toppings is but one of them. We may not ever have a Japadog, a Crif Dog or a Hot Doug's, but Vermont is now home to the one and only Juni's Dog Haus.
The third eatery from the church group behind Juniper's Fare Café (also in Waterbury), Juni's has filled most of the tiny space that formerly belonged to Muddy Paw Coffee with a griddle and fryer.
This leaves no room for seating. Instead, there are picnic tables outside and a drive-through window for diners on the go. But the cook on duty was kind enough to carry my large order to a table across the parking lot for me.
That wasn't the only time he went above and beyond. The buns that he typically uses for sliders weren't available, so he made me sandwiches that filled up normal-sized buns for the same price.
One was stacked with smoked, pulled pork. Executive chef Martin Smith told me last month that his signature barbecue sauce is called "My Smokin’ Hot Wife." The sauce indeed has a touch of heat, but it's a balance of sweet and sour with a touch of earthy cumin that makes it so delicious on the sturdy-but-moist strands of flesh.
The red cabbage slaw on top added only crunch. A thin slick of mayonnaise wasn't enough to give the veggies any real kick.
But another slider, the RedNEK, had plenty to spare.
A juicy fried-chicken patty was topped with hot sauce and banana peppers for a pleasant spiciness that was eased by Cabot cheddar and a slick of mayo. Crisp bacon, lettuce and tomato added crunch. So did the griddled bun — fluffy on top with a welcoming crackle as I bit in.
It was the kind of sandwich that simply shouldn't work as well as it did.