two8two Bar & Burger

I’m a pretty skeptical guy. I’m skeptical of doctors, politicians, the government, taxes, tolls, societal norms, the difference between a disease and a condition, Yankee Candle scents, and much more. But, one does not have to be a skeptic to question almost everything about this new burger and hot dog place we found in Brooklyn near Barclay’s. The name makes no sense at all, but I like how it works into their logo (I guess). Next, when you look at the menu, you’ll notice that they have a signature special sauce that goes on everything. That’s a very bold move and a strong belief in their core. I like confidence (I guess). Lastly, they have an odd fascination with poblano chiles. I do love chile rellenos (I don’t guess, this is a fact), so I went in with an open mind.

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Not only did I have to have an open mind, but certainly a wide open mouth and stomach to be able to handle the size of this wiener. Weighing in at a quarter pound and standing at almost a foot tall, this is no welterweight. This is a heavyweight dog layered with spicy-pepper-fat-cheese and some sauce. I was excited for my breakfast, because this was actually my first meal of the day. This is the signature two8two dog covered with roasted poblano chiles, cheddar cheese and two8two sauce. Bring on the heartburn.

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The bun is perfectly toasted and does exactly what a bun should do: support the sausage and whatever it chose to wear to work that day. The sausage had great flavor, but lacked in the snap department. It also had a sort of wrinkled appearance and thick texture that may have been the result of either over-cooking or cooking method, I’m not sure. It was good, but I think the weakness of the wiener. #WoW (Weakness of the Wiener). The strength of the wiener was in the toppings. Poblano chiles, for that that aren’t familiar, are quite tasty and not overly spicy. These are roasted and tossed around in a sea of cheddar cheese that cools to form some sort of pepper glue that I imagine would make any reasonable non-lactose intolerant human being very happy, myself included. This then gets topped off with two8two sauce, which reminded me of a chipotle mayo, but lighter and with a hint of cheese. Overall, we have a huge, very fat, very demanding weenie that is damn good. I never thought I’d say this, but if it were a little smaller and the frank offered more juice and snap, this could be a top level wiener. It’s still stellar, and will receive:

4.282 weenies

See what I did there?

Cheers

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The Cannibal: Part Deux

Have you ever been in one of those moods? You know, one of those moods where you have some time to kill before a Broadway show after work and want to get on a Citi Bike and ride really fast to this hot dog place that you wrote about two years ago and crowned as the King of NYC? No? Weird, because, I mean, it was crazy… I was in one of those moods last night!

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Behold! The Jan Ulrich. Slightly over two years ago, I discovered the Cannibal. Known for their outlandish selection of meats at their main restaurant in Chelsea, no man leaves unhappy, unsatisfied, or feeling any better about their beer gut. When I visited their Hell’s Kitchen outpost in Gotham West Market back then, there were many different varieties of hot dogs – enough to take up a section of the menu. Now, they have only two hot dog options, one of which has their homemade wieners serving as the sausage base, and the other has the familiar Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. weenies. I usually don’t like to review the same place twice. As proof I’ve even been to the main restaurant and had their dogs before (shout-out to the Feastie Boys), but since these are completely different, utilizing a different sausage base that I already know and love, I feel compelled. I mean, you’d write a new movie review of The Shining if Eddie Murphy replaced Jack Nicholson right?

Is the Cannibal still king? Well, let’s start with the topic of bacon jam. Sweet Lord have mercy on my soul. This is a creation of a millennium. Sweet, yet fatty and rich, it is the perfect sausage icing. On top of this, we have some lightly flavored bbq chip bits to add a nice crunch. They’re like croutons on a salad or seat belts in cars – not completely necessary, but really nice to have. Next, glazed on the top of this magnificent sandwich (yes, a hot dog is a sandwich), is a delectable spicy mayo. It’s much spicier than you expect and that’s how it should be. If you’re going to sit down and eat a Jan Ulrich, you’re not a pansy, you’re a giant can of testosterone from Sweden ready to devour all the other pansies in the world. Eat up Jan, you deserve it. Is the Cannibal still king? Of course it is. The best weenie in the city hasn’t changed yet, my friends. Go to this establishment ASAP.

4.6 weenies

The Cannibal

Above is the first review I wrote. Below are some useless links to social media stuff.

Cheers

@nyweenies     Facebook – NY Weenies

Pig Beach

I’ve been on vacation, sorry. Can you blame me? I mean, have you ever had the chance to swim with pigs on a beach in the Bahamas? Yeah, me either. Actually, I’ve just been lazy, but I did go to Brooklyn! Some of the NY Weenies staff moved to Brooklyn this month, which has graciously broadened my hot dog horizons. My first stop in the area (after a rough Saturday morning taking a standardized test that is, shall I say, obtuse), was to the much anticipated Pig Beach BBQ. Craft beers, cocktails, and meat aplenty, it was sure to be a treat. I found myself in the kind of mood where random 1950’s expressions for excitement were most appropriate. I felt like a hybrid cross-child of Opie Griffith and Beaver Cleaver. Gee, pa. Good golly, oh boy! What a hoot!

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Yes, this is a classic yellow-mustard-only dog. Simple, elegant, and timeless. Pig Beach does offer some exotic toppings on their locally sourced Karl Ehmer dogs that I’d love to try another time – cheese, pulled pork, and pickled peppers – however, I was also hankering for a pulled pork Sammy so I didn’t want to encourage obesity. The first thing I noticed was the bun: a Martin’s potato roll, no question about it. It was also grilled, showing some char on the side, which never fails to impress if done correctly. I applied the mustard from the big jug-pump sort of simple machine, so obviously that was done to perfection. You’d be amazed at how many people do this correctly. It is literally a simple machine, like a wedge, or a wheel, or a pulley. The big jug-pump machine, duh. I’m pretty sure I was fed from a big jug-pump machine as a baby, for cryin’ out loud. BJPM baby, what a hoot.

Anyway, let us progress, both in maturity and time, to the first bite. The snap was present, not strong, but present. The flavor was robust, sort of smoky, but not over-bearing, and the overall wiener size was a little less that desired, but, overall no complaint. Also, it wasn’t quite as hot as I wanted, lacked char, and could have been cooked more. I’ll cut them a little break since it was super busy on Saturday afternoon, but, as Yogi Berra once said, “ya gotsta cook ya weenies.”

3.1 weenies

I’m happy, I’d go there again. Pig Beach is a very fun spot offering loads of tasty meats and drinks. In fact, you can buy a nice Other Half IPA and a shot of mezcal for 10 bucks. That’s enough reason to go right there. Happy weenie huntin’.

Cheers

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Corner of Vermont

I always thought that Vermont was a place for hippies and mountain folk, like a northern version of “Deliverance.” Then, I went there for the first time and found it to be quite beautiful and filled with decent people, like a northern version of “The Notebook.” Then, I went to the restaurant called the Corner of Vermont and found it to be truly inventive, unique, and mind-boggingly delicious, kind of like a northern version of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I felt like Augustus Gloop in this place, eating maple weenies like it was my day job. If I wasn’t careful, I’d drown in the maple mustard just like he did in chocolate. I had to travel all the way to Park Slope Brooklyn for these wonderful Vermont weenies, and I didn’t even have a golden ticket. What a great decision.

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Notice how the sun kisses the wiener’s toppings as if it were Apollo’s own lips. There’s a reason for this: these sausages are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

On the left, we have a classic chili cheese dog done right. The chili is made in house, is outstanding, and has the perfect amount of spice. The cheese? Oh, the cheese, is 1 year old Grafton cheddar. Al Gore may! (Get it? Gourmet?)

On the right, we have “The Vermonter”, which was my favorite, mainly due to the surprise I had when I realized how good it was, and the creativity that went into it. Adorning the weenie are maple mustard, maple caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of maple sugar. True to the name, and phenomenal.

Now, the sausages. They are composed of pork, beef, and… BACON. That’s right, there is ground up bacon in the sausage. On top of that, they are huge and meaty, and have that oh so necessary snap. The grey color is at first a little off-putting, but you get over it really quick. You’ll think the exact same thing when you see the shirt I am wearing in the picture below.

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Yes indeed! I couldn’t be happier to find this place. It was a perfect start to the day, and a great discovery that I will be returning to. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly, and they do everything all natural – no nitrates, straight from the farm in Vermont. This is a real Vermont establishment, putting out genuinely awesome food and beverage. We even got to try their homemade lemonade and tea. Without too many more words, I hereby declare this hot dog the King of Brooklyn. That’s right, this is the best hot dog I have eaten in Brooklyn. The Cannibal is still #1 in NYC, but this is for sure top 5, and #1 in the biggest borough of NYC. Well done, Corner of Vermont.

4.4802 weenies

Do the numbers matter anymore? (802 is Vermont’s only area code. Tribute. Here’s another to make your mouth water.)

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Cheers

@NYWeenies     Facebook – NY Weenies

Barclays Center

The worst team in the NBA and a mediocre, generally less preferred hockey team grace the center of this arena in Brooklyn. This raises many questions for me. Is there a correlation between the caliber of teams in the arena and the caliber of weenies sold at the arena? Well, the Mets were slightly better than the Yankees last year, and I’ll take a Citi Field dog over a Yankee Stadium dog any day. If the mustard that comes out of the spigot is brown and wicked, would you still lick it? Weird question, even weirder, cringe-worthy rhyme scheme. If a tree falls in the forest when nobody is around, does it make a sound? Obviously yes. Like, there’s not even a question, it’s science, of course it makes a sound. OK, I’m not good at asking mysterious questions — on to the part about wieners.

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Foot longs are always fun. They add an element of party to the hot dog that normal dogs don’t have. They are kind of like that friend you’ve always had that is an absolute blast at times, but much better in small doses. I am the kind of person that can take higher doses of foot longs compared to most people, so I was all about the fact that a foot long was an option. Barclays also offers a great condiment section, similar to Citi Field, so I was able to scoop on ample amounts of mustard infused relish as well as spicy brown mustard. Obviously, yellow is preferred, but the relish was outstanding so I was very pleased overall with the topping choices. Pickles are great. Chopped pickles on a hot dog are stellar. Chopped pickles infused with mustard on a foot long wiener?! Breathtaking.

And the rest of the experience? Not much different from other hot dogs I’ve had, with perhaps a slightly higher quality sausage. There wasn’t a snap, but it was firm and juicy with solid flavor. Apparently this place is a spin off of an actual restaurant in Wiliamsburg, the Vanderbilt, so they’re upping the ante in BK. I’ve had much worse. Toto, we’re not in Asia anymore…

3.25 weenies

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I should probably be embarrassed by that picture, but Nietzsche thinks I shouldn’t.

Cheers

@nyweenies     Facebook

Tørst

Danish people love hot dogs. Apparently they also love beer, serving beer in wine glasses, having no decorations in their bars, and a new vowel that looks like an o with a slash through it. Apparently, that vowel is pronounced like the “i” in bird or the “eu” in the infamous French expression “sacré bleu!” Well, when I eat a good hot dog, it is pronounced with a “snap.” And, that is exactly what I found at this bar in Greenpoint with one of the craftiest craft beer selections y’all ever did see. Apparently, they know how to get to my heart.

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That shiny submarine of hope pictured above is the Tørst hot dog #4. Four is my favorite number. This is destiny. At first glance, it looks immaculate, but I must admit that I am skeptical. It’s very easy to be too fancy when it comes to wieners. In my opinion, forgetting the classic and moving too far away from what made the frankfurter famous can be a recipe for disaster. As my Dad used to say in youth sports, “don’t try to make the highlight reel.” So, as I see curry ketchup, raita, candied nuts, and thinly sliced pickly things on top of this guy I got worried. Raita?! Barely know her. Emily Raita-kowski? I have no idea what raita is, but as it turns out, it is an Indian cucumber sauce that usually serves to counteract spicy foods. I suppose this is logical due to the curry ketchup.

The first bite yields the best part of this hot dog, and one of the greatest feelings of all time. The snap. Oh, it is glorious. This is the best snap of any weenie I have had in New York. This is better than the snap from Snap, Crackle, and Pop… better than the snap from snap into a Slim Jim… and even better than SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the government organization responsible for food stamps. After the snap comes some intense heat from the curry ketchup. When this hits, you’ll need some water. Luckily, the raika and the pickle balance it out. The nuts, in my opinion, don’t add anything, but I’ll never complain about peanuts. Lastly, the bun is big and bold, almost brioche, but not quite. I need to think about the bun a little more.

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OK, it’s too big. The bun is too big. I need less bread. Seriously, just put a toasted Martin’s potato roll on this thing and you’ve got the best dog in the city I think. But, holy cow, Tørst, you’ve done an amazing thing with this weenie. I debated giving you king of NYC. Alas, since I don’t like having ties anymore, you shall receive a very odd rating.

4.46 weenies

I’ll be back… Tirst… Teurst… whatever. Ø!

Cheers

@nyweenies     Facebook

 

 

Nathan’s Cart: Plaza Hotel

If you can’t cook a good weenie in a cart, you can’t cook a good weenie. Put that cart outside of the Plaza Hotel and you’re putting yourself in the upper echelon of weenie carts. Put a Nathan’s name on it and if you fail, there will be serious consequences. I’m talking about the kind of consequences Nalgene would have faced if I was able to break one of their stupid BPA free plastic bottles. Believe me I tried. The point I’m trying to make is if you put a Nathan’s cart outside of a regal, ornate, some would even say elegant, place like the Plaza, on the southwest corner of Central Park, on the world’s greatest island, Manhattan… it better be pretty damn good.

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Now, weenie fans, take a look at the picture above. At the north and south poles of the sausages pictured, please focus in on the very tip. Just the tip. You may notice that there is a small knobby ending on the sausages. This is an indication of an excellent, real skin hot dog. This is what Nathan’s does, and this is why they’re great. When skin like this exists, the snap exists, and the juiciness follows. Since I just came from the dentist, I decided to get two hot dogs. That’s a rule that I follow, by the way: after the dentist, have two hot dogs. Per the original rules, I went one with pure mustard, and one with whatever I choose. In this case, it was chili and cheese. God bless that combo. The original mustard only dog only offered spicy brown mustard, unfortunately. This often happens in New York, however, so I’m used to it.

I have only two complaints about the Nathan’s cart dogs. The bun wasn’t toasted at all, and the weenie itself was not very hot. I think if the guy didn’t feel rushed with a huge line, he might have cooked it longer, so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, and perhaps not worrying about how sloppy the chili cheese dog was, something was very correct about these weenies. When I consumed them, it felt like I was doing the right thing. It was almost as if I had done some sort of community service or even given a charitable contribution. If I felt like that every time I ate a hot dog I’d weight 314 pounds, but I’d be pretty happy.

3.5 weenies

By the way, the rule for going to the dentist is that you get to eat two hot dogs after (only one if you have a cavity). If you ever have surgery, or, I’m so sorry if this is you… a colonoscopy… please call me. I’ll tell you what you need to do and how many hot dogs you’re allowed to eat. Bradly Cooper was in a movie of the same title… limitless.

Cheers

Emmett’s

The Cubs won the World Series a little while ago and it inspired me. No, I wasn’t inspired by the come from behind victory, the history of the ball club, or the life-long fans of Chicago. I was rooting for Cleveland. When they lost, I was sad, and in need of a hot dog. The Cubs victory made me think of Chicago, which made me think of a windy mid-western city, Derrick Rose/Dwayne Wade, violence in the hood, and most importantly, it made me think of the Chicago-style hot dog. This weenie is an absolute classic in the hot dog world and I feel like I’ve ignored it. Thank you, Chicago Cubs, for indirectly inspiring me to write about a hot dog with a pickle on top of it.

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First – let us be sure that the readers fully understand the makings of a Chicago style dog. Toppings must include: tomatoes, pickle/pickles/relish, onions, yellow mustard, and a little pepper on top. I’ll let the presentation of the pickles vary in the definition, but I’ll be damned if I see a Chicago dog without a little pepper on top. That’s like an Old Fashioned without an orange peel, a sundae without a fake cherry, or even worse, Flava Flav without a clock. The Chicago dog has never been atop my list of regional dog styles simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t need a garden on top of my weenie. It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly does not take a garden to enjoy a weenie. I will always respect, however, that the Chicago dog always has strictly yellow mustard. None of that spicy brown garbage get’s the Chicago seal of approval, and that makes this hot dog blogger a happy man.

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Enter Emmett’s, a Chicago themed bar and restaurant in Soho serving up deep dish pizza and other assorted vittles. This place is a very cool, popular spot where it seems many native Chicago-ans hang out. Pictured in the headline photo is their description of the featured Chicago dog. The most notable part of this weenie is the poppy seed bun. My next “never have I ever” will most certainly be the fact that I’ve never had a poppy seed bun before. It was OK. The folks at Emmett’s put a lot of effort into this dog and it payed off. The frank itself was definitely of quality, and although adorned with a garden, I could still taste some smoke in it. In a bite, one could experience a minor snap, followed by a warm, smoky weenie, quickly followed by an avalanche of garden vegetables and yellow mustard. This is very tasty, however, as I mentioned before, overbearing. I appreciate the authenticity Emmett’s offered by using a whole pickle and whole tomatoes, and I’ll say that this is the best Chicago dog I’ve ever had. However, it is still a Chicago dog, and they aren’t my favorite.

3.25 weenies

Cheers

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Steak ‘n Shake Signature

People love surprises. There’s a reason that they plan surprise parties, enjoy scary movies, watch sports, gamble, and listen to Donald Trump. In all situations, it’s impossible to predict what comes next. In my case, it was impossible to predict what happened on this brisk fall evening at Steak ‘n Shake. Sorry, Steak ‘n Shake SignatureMy experience unfolded in three simple steps.

Step 1: “Weenie Malfunction”

Remember how disappointed you were when you found out that you had to pay taxes? Match that with the disappointment I felt when I went to a very famous establishment in NYC for a weenie and the line was out the door. Terrible. It was time for plan B.

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Step 2: “Go to the bench”

I had to salvage this situation somehow. I pulled out my phone, went to Google Maps, and typed in “hot dog” near location. Up pops Steak ‘n Shake. Steak ‘n Shake was a fast food establishment I went to one time in Cleveland. So, I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was expecting very little. So, I decided to go bash it. I haven’t bashed in a while, it could be fun. I became a grunting caveman full of emotion. Bashing, anger, destruction, NYWeenies… must… destroy… Steak ‘n Shake.

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Step 3: “Saint Peter works at Steak ‘n Shake”

Then, like bright light in a coffin of darkness, or like Tinkerbell to Peter Pan… no more anger. Show me those pearly gates!!! This most definitely was a Signature Steak ‘n Shake hot dog. I got the classic footlong and it was phenomenal. It comes in this fancy see through sleeve that when unsheathed, reveals glory. The bun is perfectly toasted. The mustard, remarkably, is yellow. As most readers will know, yellow mustard is liquid gold, and without argument the best mustard ever known to mankind. Finally, the sausage is grilled essentially perfectly. The outer edges exhibit some delicate char. Real, nice, delicate, write-home-to-your-family-about, char. Such char on such a dog, equipped with such a well toasted bun, with such a perfectly placed stripe of yellow mustard? This such equation leads such a weenie to be the king of NYC… right?!

Step 4: “An act of violence”

Nope, they cut my weenie in half. Damn it. I can’t crown a king when they perform vicious acts of violence to multiple weenies every day. That’d be like voting for Pol Pot as Surgeon General. So close, Steak ‘n Shake. Please know that I absolutely loved your hot dog, but I cannot crown you king.

4.49 weenies

It’s a weird number, I know. Whatever, who cares about my ratings anyway? At least I didn’t cut it in half.

Cheers

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Boat Basin Cafe

Up on the Upper West Side there’s this odd little sinkhole close to the water where twenty-somethings like to drink. If you live on the UWS and have any semblance of fun in the daytime when its nice out, you’ve been here. If you don’t live on the UWS but have a friend who lives on the UWS and you have any semblance of fun in the daytime when its nice out, you’ve been here. Furthermore, if you don’t have any friends at all, no connection to the UWS, prefer Beyonce over Rihanna, but have some semblance of fun when its nice out, you’ve still probably been here. Its called the Boat Basin. They serve buckets of Corona, Narragansetts, and most importantly: hot dogs. Y’all know I’m down to descend to spots of lower elevation for a good weenie.

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Bring on the mudslide of chili. Above sits the second “chili-est” dog I’ve ever eaten. The first was a lovely weenie eaten atop the marble bar top of Old Town Bar. Science doesn’t allow for much for chili than that. George A. Hormel himself would be overwhelmed with the amount of chili on this hot dog. I, however, am a tremendous proponent of chili dogs, so my mouth salivated the second this thing was in sight. In fact, I saw a guy next to me order two of them before I knew the restaurant even served hot dogs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to order two because this was my 4th meal of the day at my 4th restaurant, so I let off on the gluttony gas pedal a bit.

Now, to elaborate on the dog itself. The bun was a bun, that’s about it. The sausage had a smoky flavor, which I think in part was due to the chili. There was very little snap but I could tell the weenie was of good quality, so I was pleased. I ordered mustard on it, but I couldn’t taste it because I was focusing so much on the best part of this weenie: the chili. It had two types of beans!!! Pintos and kindeys floating around in the same primordial soup is something I dreamed about as a child and drew pictures of in art class. It wasn’t too runny, or too spicy, but it was spicy enough. Once cheese was added to the top it was heaven. I wish there was a bowl on the side so that I could dip any part of the hot dog that was uncovered into it. Stellar.

3.75 weenies

P.S. The pickle was dope, too.

Cheers

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