Here’s a quick review of the newest Jimmy Buff’s, New Jersey’s legendary Italian Hot Dog emporium, which opened Wednesday, December 15, 2010, at 506 Boulevard, Kenilworth, New Jersey.
The good news is that the double Italian Hot Dog I purchased was quite delicious. I’d give it an 8.5 out of 10, with the only demerit attributed to the scant amount of peppers adorning the sandwich, made of good, sturdy pizza bread that was just the right taste and consistency, and quite ample. The potatoes, thin-sliced round fries, were world class, and somewhat reminiscent of the golden spuds Charlie and Sons in Union made years ago…nice and crispy, not too oily.
The onions were plentiful and good.
The franks were Best Provision, all-beef, 8-to-a-pound natural casing, which were quite fine and fried just right…but somewhat of a surprise. Here’s why: Some strict constructionists would say natural casing is a no-no because an Italian Hot Dog, with its multifarious elements and hence different resiliencies and textures, shouldn't offer an extra challenge to the bite that a natural casing frankfurter presents.
However, that might be like complaining that the car dealership gave you leather seats at no cost, even though you didn’t order them. N/c (natural casing) is more expensive and hence offers more value for the money. And, if you don't mind a little extra chomping and that snap, why not? They were good…and served hot.
The restaurant space is roomy, pleasant, and decorated stylishly, though there are small, connected booths rather than tables. And if one eats doubles on a very regular basis, he or she might wish the tables were arranged a little farther from their attached benches. The bathroom (1) was clean.
The location is great….prominent on the Boulevard, with lots of street parking, as well as a parking lot behind the store. It is easily reachable from Route #22, only about a mile away, and from Garden State Parkway exit #138, just a half mile or so away.
The unfortunate part of today’s visit on Thursday, December 16, a day after the store opened, is that there didn’t yet seem to be a preparation system in place to accommodate more than a couple customers, whereas there were about 17 people waiting for their food when I and my two pals entered the establishment at 2 p.m.
We ordered 2 doubles ($7 each), a single ($4.25) and three medium Pepsi sodas ($1.80 each), and received them 25 minutes after ordering. I would consider no more than an 8 to 10 minute wait acceptable.
However, everyone seemed to be in a very patient, pleasant and understanding mood.
There was a nice anticipation in the air…a new Buff’s. We would be fair. When the dogs turned out to be good, it made us appreciate our civility. I was surprised, though, that the management hadn’t hired some extra help, just at least until they had their preparation down pat… so less patient and tolerant folks than we wouldn’t be turned off by this first impression.
Patrons kept coming in. And later, after going to a coffee shop with my friends and passing by Jimmy Buff’s again at 5 p.m., there were still customers filing in. Assuming the new Jimmy Buff’s gets up to speed soon and shortens considerably the wait for an order, from what I saw today this could be a very, very successful enterprise.
Tip: ---Unless you like a lot of ice in your fountain drink, stipulate only a moderate amount of it in your beverage.
P.S. ---The red Jimmy Buff’s sign outside, above the storefront, is very attractive.
Jimmy Buff’s is located at 506 Boulevard, Kenilworth, N.J., and is open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The phone number is 908-276- BUFF (2833).