We present another She said/he said hot dog review, starring Nancy Nichols and Evan Grant.
SHE SAID: I asked InsideCorner’s Evan Grant to go with me to taste hot dogs because he likes hot dogs as much as I do. And Evan and I usually agree on food. However, what we don’t agree on is what constitutes a good hot dog joint. When I started my quest for a hot dog, I set out to find little independent shops that sold mostly only hot dogs. Then I made the mistake of asking Evan to join me in my search. He’s a deli-lover and he likes restaurants with his hot dogs. He wants tables and side dishes and waitresses.
After we hit Eddie’s Deli, Evan insisted that we go to Zisky’s Delicatessen in Preston Royal. “It’s not a hot dog place,” I argued. “It’s a restaurant that serves a bunch of stuff and offers hot dogs.” Evan was his usual stubborn self. “Nancy, if you want to taste the best hot dog you have to include hot dogs in restaurants,” he sneered. “Besides I’ve been to Zinsky’s and their dogs are great.”
So we went to Zinsky’s where the hot dogs are great. Fancy, but great. Plus, for almost the same price as Eddie’s, you get table service, one side dish, and no mothball smell. The closest match to my beloved Maxwell Street Polish that I could create at Zinsky’s was the quarter pound Boar’s Head Polish sausage covered with fried onion strings. Evan got The Blue Dog—just a long skinny all-beef frank tucked into a cozy bun. My Polish dog, a tweaked version of the “Butch’s Jersey Dog,” on the Zinsky’s menu was spicy and so moist, that juice squirted across the table after each bite. Which could be embarrassing if you were on a first date, but Evan and I were on our one-millionth dining experience together. I love the bun, but it’s too much bread-to-dog ratio.
However, like the mothball smell of Eddies, our experience at Zinsky’s was marred by inexcusably poor service: wrong drinks delivered, matz0h ball soup came without matz0h balls, and the kitchen runner served an unordered knockwurst and fries. After we’d sent things back and asked for a Coke for a second time, she returned with our order and basically dropped it on the table and turned away. All huffy. Evan likes that kinda of drama with his dogs. I’m moving on to another indie. Next.
HE SAID: I’ve had two dog experiences at Zinsky’s, one fabulous, one not so good. The first time I had a dog, I just ordered it and waited. Came out perfectly. The regular hot dog is a little bit tiny for the pain au lait bun – the buns are made for a bigger weiner, like a Knockwurst or a Brat or a Polish. The dog however tasted magnificent, as good as a Hebrew National or Nathan’s Dog (sorry, guys and gals, I’m a Kosher dog guy). Good non-neon relish on the side and spicy brown mustard on the side. Now, that’s a frankfurter. The second time, as Nancy said, was disappointing. I asked for the dog to be a little well done, to get a little of blackening to the skin. As you can tell by the picture, that’s what I got. But I also think it made my weiner suffer from shrinkage. The dog looked smaller, the bun bigger and all that taste got lost a little bit in the fluffy bun. Yes, the service was a little mixed up. When Zinsky’s gets slammed, they seem to be still feeling their way through things. The runner, I believe, simply set down the original plates one booth too far up. When I discreetly checked behind us a few minutes later, two ladies were having a knockwurst and chicken noodle soup – exactly what had been brought to our table.
I know Nancy wants to find the perfect hot dog stand. I just don’t think many of those exist outside Coney Island anymore. You want a dog, you are going to have to find it on the menu at a deli or a kid-friendly restaurant. That’s why I ordered her to go to Zinsky’s and why, after the retina-burning Eddie’s experience, Nancy had no choice, but with tears in her eyes, to say “OK, go to Zinsky’s.”
Part of the problem in this whole excursion is the limited number of weiners out there. You are most likley to get a Vienna Beef or Hebrew National dog. I don’t know if anybody is serving anything else in a commercial establishment these days. That’s why I thought the Zinsky’s dog, with a different maker, might be a different experience.
Next for me: Wild About Harry’s. I’ve had the custard many times, but never actually sampled one of the dogs. Anybody got any feelings on Harry Coley’s dogs? I think they are still using Vienna, are they not? A quick look at the web site did not list what kind of hot dog they are using. Are Harry’s dogs worth our next hot dog run? Or is there somewhere else you would send us? Although, Nancy did look at me after eating those two polish sausages on Saturday, and said: “I think this will cure my craving for a while.” Tears were still streaming down her eyes. Not sure, if it was from the mothball-scented floor cleaner or her Dog Day disappointment.