Chicago’s a hot dog town, and the dog of choice has long been the all- beef hot dog made by the Vienna Sausage Company. Like the fabled princess who could feel a wizened pea through a veritable mountain of mattresses, devotees argue that they can “out” a competitor with a single bite. I’m not going to argue the point. I am, instead, going to spotlight a dog of a different sort: Kevin Hickey’s Duck Inn Dog.
Hickey created the Duck Inn Dog back when he was the chef at the Four Seasons Hotel. The hotel participated in a lot of charity events, among them the baseball-themed Crosstown Classic sponsored by Common Threads. Held during the annual series between the Cubs and the Sox, the event included a ballpark reception fueled by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. It was, Hickey reasoned, the perfect setting for the hot dog he’d been itching to create.
The end result was-and is- a quarter pound, natural casing hot dog made with coarsely ground beef. What’s unique about the Duck Inn Dog is the choice of fat. Instead of mixing the meat with beef fat, Hickey uses duck fat. Since a really good hot dog has to have a sizable fat content, switching out the fat gives the Duck Inn Dog a unique taste.
The Duck Inn Dog has been a runaway favorite since opening day at The Duck Inn (2701 S. Eleanor St.), Hickey’s restaurant in Bridgeport. It’s also the centerpiece at Duck Inn Dogs, a fast food format that’s currently involved in a trial run at the Revival Food Hall (125 S. Clark St.).
The short term, pop-up format is designed to give newcomers an opportunity to test their wings. Of course, Kevin Hickey is a seasoned veteran and the Duck Inn Dog already has a considerable fan base, so it’s more than likely that the Duck Inn Dog will have a home of its own soon after the pop-up closes on September 28.