Can this minimalist hot dog really cost $8?
Daniel Angerer – chef of the pretty-good restaurant Klee Brasserie – made a big splash a few months ago by offering customers a taste of cheese allegedly made from his wife’s breast milk. At the time, I called it a hoax, asserting that it would take way more breast milk to make the cheese than he claimed. Now another kind of hoax from the same chef looms on the horizon.
Possibly the world’s most expensive hot dog stand
“Brats–Dogs & Wieners” is the name of Angerer’s new sausage shop, near the intersection of West 23rd Street and Ninth Avenue, just around the corner from Klee. I had high hopes as I entered the narrow storefront, which is equipped with a bar that dives deep into the premises, some scant counter seating, and a couple of tables in the rear. For diners, the place is none too comfortable, and anywhere you sit, you’ll feel like you’re just perching.
But the menu made my jaw drop. There was an intriguing list of sausages – low on the standards, high on the newfangled and invented – but the cheapest one was $8. There were a few in that range, but then the prices zoomed upward, with a couple in the teens (including a Westy Seafood Dog made with “sustainable West Coat Shrimp” — $14.50, push my buttons, Daniel!) and a pair of franks topping $20 (including a Japanese dog made with Aukashi beef, $24.50). The jokey metal sign on the wall that said “Hot Dogs 15 Cents” was rendered ridiculous.
The dragon dog had no detectable kimchee.
The bland potato salad
I decided to graze on the lower end of the menu, and selected three dogs, two sides, and a pickle. Slender as an anorexic’s finger, the $8 beef wiener came on a toasted lobster-roll bun, squished in the toaster so that it looked meager and Atkins-ey. It was topped with a few stray strands of sauerkraut. The thing looked pitiful, and you had to feel sorry for it. But the dog tasted good and garlicky – like something you might buy at Karl Ehmer, the Fresh Pond, Queens, butcher and sausage maker.
Just as the beef wiener was long and narrow, the dragon wiener ($8.50) was comically short, squat, and pale. It was advertised as “with kimchee,” but there was certainly none on top, and little, if any, could be detected in the interior. Once again, a well-crafted sausage – there just wasn’t enough of it. The sriracha mustard that came in a little cup on the side was tasty, though.
Good, too, was the sweet apple mustard that accompanied the bratwurst ($8), which had a good brat flavor, but was annoyingly studded with little cubes of Swiss cheese, putting it squarely in Oscar Mayer territory. The potato salad ($5.50), glowingly described on the menu as “not your dad’s, Hudson Valley potatoes,” was too little and too bland. A so-called Greek olive salad – “Good idea,” my date said enthusiastically – turned out to be all chick peas and not very good. You could count the slivers of olive, there were so few.
The pickle ($1.50), however, was fantastic. Our bill, as we left 15 minutes later, still very hungry, was $45, including tax, tip, and two sodas (beer is not yet available). Oh, yeah, and that included a 15% opening days discount.
The pickle, however, was excellent.
Can’t find any olives in the Greek olive salad.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 28, 2010