Attention America: Celebrate July 4th with German, Jewish, and Fireman Dogs!
I haven’t spent much time this year eating any hot dogs. Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned: I have been eating A LOT of salads lately. Maybe it’s the excessive asphalt-melting heat, but I think it’s also because I haven’t figured out where to get some new dogs in NYC. I did my semi-regular trolling through all of the internets to search for anything new. At some point I found myself on someone’s Flickr site, and unfortunately I can’t remember how to find it again. But this person goes around NYC photographing food, as well as old fading advertisements on buildings. He had a great looking picture of a frankfurter from a place in the West Village called Landbrot. I continued to drag my feet because I can get pretty lazy and not want to leave my neighborhood. But then my sense of patriotism struck on July 4th, and I took a ride through the emptied city to sample some German-style sausages.
Landbrot is, according to their website, a bakery bar that specializes in traditional German pastries, baked breads, pretzels, and microbrews. It’s important to remember that most places to eat in the west village are fairly expensive and gourmet/artisanal. When you walk in, you are greeted by a big take out counter with lots of doughy treats in expansive glass cases. There’s a big marble bar to the right which is adjacent to a towering shelf system with all kinds of sundries for sale.
I was a bit confused as how to order though. I wanted to eat there but no waiter or host came to seat me. I asked someone behind the counter if I could just sit at the bar and he said that a waiter would come over for my order. It was in the next 15 minutes that I was ready to completely bash this place on the blog. No one said a word to me and I wasn’t given a menu. I usually don’t care about that but it reached a point of being ridiculous. After saying something to a person that looked managerial, he apologized and made a big improvement on the service. He offered to buy me a beer to make up for it, which I thought was gracious and appropriate. Ok, they get some points back.
There are a few sausages on the menu. You have your choice of the Farmers Brat, the Nuremburger Brat (resembling a weisswurst), Andouille Sausage, an ‘old-fashioned’ frankfurter, and a frankfurter roll (a frank baked into the middle of a pastry). I ordered a Farmers and an Old Fashioned, along with an Almdudler Sparkling Herb Lemonade from Austria.
As you can tell from the photos, the Farmers Brat looks a lot more glamorous than the frank. That goes for the taste as well. I really like the idea of making your own sausages in-house, but the frank could have used some stronger seasoning. The house-made bun was tasty, but the chewier texture was mismatched with the softer dog. The Farmers Brat, however, was much stronger and had some green herbs (I didn’t ask what kind) throughout the sausage. I liked this more, but what really got me interested was the sauerkraut and the condiments. The kraut must have been homemade as well: not liquidy, soft but crunchy, and topped with some chopped bacon and peppercorns. The condiments included a tasty plum ketchup with grainy texture, hot German mustard, and white horseradish, the awesome kind that melts your sinuses and electrifies the soul. But remember that earlier I said that this place is in the west village; this means that the frank is $7.50 and the brat was $8. But in addition to being comped one of the sausages, they also gave me a delicious pastry called a Berliner, which is like a puffy jelly donut topped with powdered sugar. I think this place is worth going to check out, but perhaps not for the frankfurter.
I felt like I still needed some proper hot dog satisfaction. Yes, I don’t care what that sounds like. The plan I came up with was to venture over to the legendary Katz’s Deli. After going to check out some bluegrass in Madison Square Park, I headed down to the East Village to get a proper deli dog.
There’s not much more that I can say about Katz’s Delicatessen, one of the most iconic NYC restaurants. It’s been around since 1888, it’s been in movies, it’s got a giant, cavernous room, and it’s all served in a bit of a cafeteria style. If you haven’t been there, here’s how you get food. When you walk in, you get a ticket. You order up your food at the various counters, the deli guys mark the price on the ticket, then you pay on your way out. All I could handle at this point was a frank with everything (sans chili) and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda, because Dr. Brown’s is the only soda you should drink at a Jewish deli.
I have always heard the argument from my father that hot dog joints should have a ton of dogs waiting to go on the grill, as shown above. I think Katz’s has enough turnover to keep that volume of dogs moving and not hanging around staying warm all day. The dog all beef with natural casing on a steamed roll. I asked for it with everything, which included grainy yellow mustard and what appeared to be ketchup (a bit surprising at a deli), sauerkraut, and red onion sauce. As you can see in the photo, this big mama had a lot of heft. I thought I was going to have bun malfunction, but it held together. I made a sloppy mess of myself; keep napkins close by in case you have a beard. I was happy to end my July 4th with a classic NY American Dog!
But wait, there’s more!!! We finished up Independence Week visiting our friends Mike and Tishana in NJ. They had been mentioning that they found a nearby HDJ in the Trenton area and had to bring us. So we jumped in the car and made our way to Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs!
The name of the HDJ isn’t just for creative purposes; the guy behind the counter is Paul Tweedly, a retired captain from the Trenton Fire Department. Upon entering the summery hot dog and ice cream joint, you realize you’ve entered a growing shrine to emergency services, complete with 3 years worth of patches, helmets, and even a firehose. Captain Paul and his staff were incredibly nice, and he took the time to go through the menu with us. The girls working behind the counter were incredibly helpful, and were great with everyone who came in. The interior of the stand contained a total of about 5 counter stools, and the front outdoor courtyard had about 5 tables.
According to the site, Captain Paul’s uses Hatfield hot dogs and Old Tyme buns which are steamed and served fresh daily. While waiting, Captain Paul seemed genuinely interested in where we were from, and knew one of the FDNY houses in Brooklyn. I thought he was a really nice, down-to-earth guy who loved his business. He then served up a meatball sub to Ali, who seems to enjoy getting anything but a hot dog at a HDJ. Then I was served up a Seal Team 6 which was topped with mustard and FDNY onion sauce. I also got a Third Alarm which has the classic combo of chili, mustard, and onion. It was a really fun stand to visit on a summer day, especially when I got a sample of soft serve ice cream because I came all the way from Brooklyn!
Hopefully all these dogs in one week mean that I’ve gotten back into the game a bit. This is hot dog month, and what better week to go to some good ole’ HD joints. America!!! Oh, and stay tuned for an upcoming entry on the 7th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff for some more crazy and creative HD creations! Happy Hot Dog Month to all!!!
Landbrot 137 7th Avenue South, NY NY
Katz’s Delicatessen 205 East Houston Street, NY NY
Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs 2230 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville NJ