During a recent trip to New York I found myself at DBGB, Daniel Boulud's American bistro, just a few doors down from the former location of the legendary CBGB, where 10 years before you might have found me dodging flailing boots and fists and chugging cheap beer.
I stopped at DBGB for drinks en route to dinner elsewhere, but there was no way I could leave without giving the DBGB Dog a shot. It's one of the few high-end hot dogs out there actually made in the restaurant, as are many of their sausages—everything from Basque blood sausage to pork and duck gizzard links.
The DBGB Dog arrived on a ceramic hot dog boat with a bucket of fries and various dipping sauces. The all-beef wiener is the real thing—emulsified meat in a natural casing—on a toasted bun with their signature "299 relish," some seriously zesty mustard and a garnish of frisee and radish. It looked quite different than earlier photos I've seen here and elsewhere, leading me to believe that they've changed it up a bit since DBGB's opening.
The wiener itself was delicious, with a killer snap from the casing and a mild smokey flavor. It's a testament to the restaurant's commitment to the craft of sausage-making that has me wishing we stayed and tried them all. The frisee and radish looks pretty, but didn't do much in the way of flavor, and I have to say, the whole thing was a bit dry, and could have used more sauce or bacon fat. Or something.
The fries were terrific, and the petite shellfish plateau (reasonably priced at $30) was one of the best I've had in a long time. The atmosphere is right on—upscale yet comfortable, and a great way to try chef Boulud's cooking without reservations or spending your entire paycheck.
I still feel like the "haute dog" trend has yet to reach its pinnacle. Many chefs are still treating the hot dog as a pedestrian crowdpleaser, fancied up with a few garnishes and a clever menu description.
Either that or way over-the-top with random ingredients, although I really enjoy places such as Bark and Fat Franks that stay close to the classics but really elevate the quality of ingredients and preparation to immaculate levels.
I'd like to see some dogs that really dig deep into the cooking of various cultures that carried the frankfurter and hot dog to where it is today. How about a Franco-German beer-braised charcuterie dog smeared with chicken liver mousse, whole grain mustard and cornichons? Or an upscale Philly Combo with lobster cakes, caviar, and hollandaise? Coneys slathered with greek chili made with Belgian chocolate and grass-fed beef hearts? All great candidates for future Hot Dog of the Week coverage.
More Hot Diggity Dogs
- Nicky and Pete's in Philadelphia »
- Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System in NYC »
- South Philly Dog »
- Danny's Drive-In in Stratford, Connecticut »
- Fat Franks in Bellows Falls, Vermont »
- El Completo, Chile's Take on the Hot Dog »
- Red Snappers in Maine »
- Zweigle's in Rochester, New York »
- Cincinnati Cheese Coney in Ohio »