Who lets the dogs out every July? The All-American Diner, that’s who. For the tenth year running, here comes this old-favourite eatery’s Hot Dog Fest. It starts on 1 July but I got a sneak peek and peck.
The dog days of summer are upon us. But begone salads and soups! Let the diet go to the (hottest) dogs, says Mudita Chauhan-Mubayi
Listen up chow hounds! On offer are 11 specially crafted hot dogs. Traditionally, hot dog sausages are made of pork (wieners) or beef/veal (frankfurters). This fest offers pork and chicken. Oh, and cottage cheese for vegetarians. I’ll raise some hackles with this but, seriously, why hog a dog if you’re a veggie?
‘Frank’ly, the green choices disappointed me. The Blackened Cottage Cheese Dog (Rs 245) has interesting Cajun spicing but not enough paprika to sex up the limp paneer pakoda inside. The ‘Spicy’ Cottage Cheese & Salsa Dog (Rs 245) is far from fiery but comes with a funky fruit salsa, mainly pineapple and mango. The salsa’s fruitiness works better in the Hawaiian Hot Dog (Rs 310), countering the pork’s mild saltiness. A must try.
You can pick from three types of buns (a little over 6”). There’s one baked to Mumbai pao consistency and another studded with sesame seeds. I quite liked the laminated dough buns made in croissant style. The sides of potato wedges and onion-tomato-gherkin-romaine are enlivened by a delish relish of sweet carrot pickle. I found it very addictive, and it went very well with my pick of the menu: the nicely textured Smoked Cheese Dog (Rs 335). It has both meats—juicy pork sausage, fleshy chicken ham—in a mildly piquant ranchero sauce, crunchy lettuce and loads of smoked Gouda.
Were you to hop over to Sacramento, California, you could shell out—wait for it—$145.49 for the world’s most expensive hot dog, the California Capitol City Dawg, featuring such exotica as white truffle butter, fruitwood-smoked bacon and moose cheese! Well, California Dog (Rs 325) here isn’t that cheesy but very meaty with pepperoni slices and bacon rashers. Try it with the chicken sausage to make it a threesome of meats, or pig out on a pork sausage. Hollywood Dog (Rs 325) tries to create drama by pairing bacon with mushrooms but flops in the absence of a good supporting cast; a tangy mayo-based matrix would have boosted the taste.
With a generous lashing of nutty, fruity Emmentaler cheese, Reuben Dog (Rs 335) is my other hot pick. Don’t expect pastrami or sauerkraut like in a classic Reuben but the authentic Russian dressing of spiced mayo-ketchup makes it a wholesome dish. I was excited about Junkyard Dog (Rs 305), featuring chicken and cheese slathered with baked beans and coleslaw, but it doesn’t quite come together. It needs a sloppy, gloopy sauce (ideally pepper-based) to hold the ingredients together and LOTS of grilled or caramelized onions to add a juicy crunch. I hope they tweak it before the fest begins.
I recommend Reuben Dog (Rs 335) highly, with its generous lashing of nutty, fruity Emmentaler cheese. Don’t expect pastrami or sauerkraut like in a classic Reuben but the authentic Russian dressing of slightly spiced mayo-ketchup makes it a wholesome dish.
Like it spicy? Try Chubb’s Dog (Rs 305) laden with spicy fries and sharp-ish Cheddar. Or Chili Cheese Dog (Rs 305), somewhat like a Coney Island dog piled up high with chili con carne. Stick to the classics? Chicago Dog (Rs 305) is your Fido. Loaded with pickled peppers, carrots, and onions, it’s literally ‘dragged through the garden’.
Wondering how in dog’s name I ate all this? Well, they have sampler baskets with assorted dogs (Rs460) in smaller 4” buns. Choose any four dogs and pair them with a refreshing cocktail or smoothie from the ever-dependable beverage menu.
Hellishly hot outside. Doggone crazy inside the office. But yelp is at hand. Need a break from this dog-eat-dog world? Hog a dog!
Ratings out of 5
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 4 | Overall: 4.0
Price range: Rs 245–335 per hot dog | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timing: 11 am–midnight
Address: Habitat World, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003 | Phone: 011-43663333
PROMOTION DURATION: 1 July–31 August 2012
ALSO RUNNING AT
Address: The Waterfront Shaw, Lavasa, Pune 412107 | Phone: 020-66541414/15