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March 26, 2010

Tragedies and travesties on Washington Boulevard

Polok Johnny'sI was still a little bleary-eyed this morning when I read Robert of Cross Keys' Free Market Friday post. I thought his headline was, "Tragedies and transvestites on Washington Boulevard." I wasn't sure what to expect! Here's RoCK. LV
A few weeks ago the wife wanted me to drive her over to some vintage clothing store over on Washington Boulevard. Normally, whenever I provide transportation to the kind of place that is of little interest to me, the wife lets me pick where we eat afterward without a debate.  This is often my chance to eat at BBQ pits, hot dog stands, greasy spoon diners and noodle houses.


Every time I drove over Washington Boulevard on I-95, I would be intrigued by this drive-thru restaurant I would see down below.  I’m not sure why, but I thought it was hot dog place.  I’m never on Washington Boulevard, so I figured this would the time to try that place.

About the time we were ready to leave the house the power went out. We always try to leave a light and the television on for Mr. Jefferson (the dog). Since I didn’t know how long we would be out, and we were going to drive-thru restaurant, I decided to take him along with us.


I opted not to take the highway, but to drive through the city. Eventually, I found my way to Washington Boulevard, although it took a little bit longer than I expected. My familiarity with west and southwest Baltimore is on the same level as my familiarity with Montreal or Reykjavík. I’ve been to all of them once or twice.


I park the car, leave Mr. Jefferson inside, and the wife and I walk into the store.   About fifteen minutes later we walk out, and find that Mr. Jefferson has trashed the car. Most notably, he left something that was somewhere between an accident and an anger-management issue on the front passenger seat.


I’m not sure what caused the dog to act like this. Perhaps it was the fact that I really didn’t walk him beforehand. Then again, maybe it was because the wife routinely leaves MSNBC on for him, which has the dog thinking that he is not responsible for his own actions and that someone else will come and clean up after him. I really can’t say which theory is true. It is probably a little bit of both.


After cleaning out the car, we proceeded south on Washington Boulevard.  The drive-thru I was thinking about came up as we passed under the highway. It turns out the place is called Italiano’s. I was not in the mood for Italian food (I later found their Website and the food is half Italian and half diner) and considering what Mr. Jefferson had just done to the car, I was not in the mood for a drive-thru restaurant. 


As my initial desire was for a hot dog, it was obvious where I needed to go. About another mile or so south is Polock Johnny’s. While I stop by the stand at Lexington Market at least once or twice a year, I have never been to the location on Washington Boulevard.


Upon telling the wife where we would be going, I could hear the resigned acceptance in her voice. Outside of maybe Indian food, a hot dog stand is probably her least favorite option. I find her disdain somewhat odd. She is from Chicago after all, a great hot dog/sausage town. Nevertheless, she does not appreciate the greatness of ground and preserved meats in natural casings. Go figure.   


One of things I love about Polock Johnny’s is that there is no confusion about what I will order. I’m not there to try something new. It will always be a Polish with the Works. The wife, however, was less certain. After a few minutes of deliberating, she uttered, “A Polish sausage with … ketchup and mustard.”  


Oy vey. Ketchup? WTF!


As my wife was making questionable decisions on the culinary front, I was making questionable ones on the health front. Keep in mind, Polish sausages have already been ordered, which are not exactly in the same category as salad or salmon.   To that, I added boardwalk fries, beer battered onion rings, a birch beer and, for some reason, a chocolate shake. When my doctor talks to me about the decisions I make, these are the kinds of things he is usually referring to.    


I can say that we didn’t finish everything, in particular the shake, which we ended up giving to the dog. Yeah, we decided the shake wasn’t too chocolatey for him, and at that point he had been good for at least 30 minutes. No doubt, he was in line for some kind of reward.  


It is probably a good thing I don’t have kids.  I would be one of those dads who take them Friendly’s when they come home with D’s on their report cards. Just so long as they didn’t come home with ketchup on the Polish sausages.  


Photo by RoCK

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:31 AM | | Comments (20)


You're a fun guy, RoCK and it's always a pleasure to hear of your (mis)adventures. When I take Washington Blvd., it's invariably to head for hte Carroll Park golf course so I can shoot my usual 75 (for nine holes.) Next time, though, I'll suss out Polock Johnny's for lunch and take your nutritional guidance.

We always try to leave a light and the television on for Mr. Jefferson (the dog).

Never have I seen a finer example of a compassionate conservative.

If you force poor Mr. Jefferson to watch Rachel Maddow I am going to report you to the authorities.

More often than not, when I come home from work, Mr. Jefferson is watching Hardball or the Ed Show. So for all those who wonder how these shows stay on the air, I can at least point to one dog who watches them. I'm not sure how many Nielsen points Mr. Jefferson represents.

Haha, Love it RoCK

I really enjoyed your post. When I read your stuff I sometime forget you're a Republican. At least there is hope for Mr. Jefferson. Although a liberal would never be nasty enough to leave a little present like that on your front seat.

There use to be a great hot dog place on Washington Blvd, all the way out near Montgomery Rd. It was called the Dog House, really great foot longs. The old guy who ran the place would get really upset if you asked him to cut one in half, I don't know why but it would just set him off. I use to ask just to see his reaction.
:-) I guess liberals are like that!

Captch: heftiest of - which we will become if we keep eating hotdogs and Polish sausages.

MSNBC, Ketchup, Mr. Jefferson. Bravo. But you had me at Reykjavík.

Chocolate is seriously poisonous to dogs.

Our golden retriever once ate a dozen chocolate-glazed Dunkin' Donuts. The only negative effect was that she really liked them and never got to have another one.

Anonymous @ 6:01 PM, for all you know, the the amount of chocolate in a Polock Johnny's shake is roughly equal to the amount of meat in a Polock Johnny's hot dog.

No, that shake didn't have too much chocolate in it.

Now, what is more troubling is what happened last night. I had a Valrhona chocolate cake from Stone Mill Bakery sitting on my dining table. This cake was literally black from the dark chocolate.

I went to grocery store, and when I came back all that was left was the clam shell on the kitchen floor and the doily on the living room floor.

Jim, I wonder how your dog would have reacted to vegan donuts.

Dear me, RoCK, I hope your dog is okay.

But perhaps it wasn't the work of Mr. J. at all. Maybe Mrs. RoCK is still disgruntled by the forced visit to Polock Johnny's.

While I am plenty disgruntled, the cake was for me... so, I am even more disgruntled. Mr. Jefferson has been eating a LOT last night and today. Possibly he is pregnant.

His birthday is April 12... we are accepting gifts.

Polock Johnnies?

Przepraszam! Leave it to a Pollack to misspell his own name. Do widzenia, sir. I said do widzenia, sir!

Great read..I know Polock Johnny's on Wash. Blvd well. However for a great Coney Island hot dog, try the G&A Restaurant in Highlandtown

pollack johnny's has nothing on the other hotdog stand in lexington market that is the Konstanst's hotdogs and coffee
a beef with every(chili,mustard, and onions)is the best dog in town.hands down

The Dog House is now a used tire store. On a more positive note, the McDonalds up the road is boarded up, the sign covered over, and a chain-link fence across the entrance.

Good to see you RiE! You've been missed.

Italiano's is a great place to eat, you should have stopped there. it's not just a drive thru, they have table service and a huge menu. get a window seat so you can keep an eye on your car or watch the junkies nod out on the sidewalk, either way.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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