RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs
Sun, 02/24/08 8:29 AM
This past Thursday ScreenBear and I visited Bubba's Dog House on Valley Brook Ave. in Lyndhurst. It's a fairly new place that has been open about 6 months. We had heard that they serve a Thumann's ripper, Sabrett dirty water dog, and Italian Hot Dog with Best's franks. The restaurant itself is clean, spacious, and nice looking. Behind the counter is a grill, griddle, and a deep fryer. Also a small compartment with water for the dirty water dogs.
Before ordering we asked some (actually many) questions about the hot dogs offered, brands used, how they decided upon the offerings, etc. Just as we were getting started, Sharon, the owner emerged from the back and introduced herself to us. She is a delightful woman who was very forthcoming regarding the brands of hot dog, mustard, how the chili was made, and other details about her business. Unlike others who prefer to keep what they serve a secret, Sharon prefers that customers know what they are getting. She also did a lot of research before deciding on what to offer. Some of that research was perusing forums like Roadfood to get an idea of what New Jersey Hot Dog lovers like. I can tell you that Bubba's pays great attention to detail. They care about quality and offer top quality food at a good value.
Before describing the hot dogs, let me mention that you can get a variety of burgers and chicken choices. The fries are hand cut and twice fried. Because we had 2 regular dogs and a double Italian Hot Dog, we didn't get a chance to sample the fries or burgers. Next time, maybe. We were told that the fresh ground beef that makes up the burgers is exceptionally good and that the burgers are the best that Sharon has had. She strongly recommended them. Bubba's toppings include sweet and hot onions, sauerkraut, potato, baked beans, cheese wiz, bacon bits, raw onions, mustard relish, sweet relish, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and of course, mustard. There are 2 mustards; a honey mustard for the chicken and Gold's Dusseldorf mustard for the hot dogs.
As for the hot dogs, Bubba's offers: 1) The Dirty Dog. This is a natural casing 11 to a lb Sabrett dog heated in water (not boiled) that is set to 165 degrees. While we were at the counter speaking with Sharon, I noticed a few dogs that were sitting in the water. At home I have the luxury of putting my dogs in the water and taking them out at the right time. One disadvantage of having a restaurant is not knowing exactly when someone will order a dirty water dog. They lose their flavor and snap when left too long in the water. Sharon assured us that she only has a few in the water and throws them out before letting them sit there. We did not sample one of these dogs.
2)The Ripper. This is the Thumann's dog made for deep frying that is common in North Jersey and can be found at Rutt's Hut, Hiram's, Hot Dog Heaven, Libby's, Goffle Grill, and a slew of others.
3) The Charbroil Dog. We were unaware that this dog was on the menu. It is the 5 to a lb, natural casing Best's dog, more commonly known as the Syd's dog. Great to find another place that serves this Jersey Classic. So far we have Jimmy Buff's East Hanover, Seymours, and now Bubba's.
4) The Italian Hot Dog. An authentic Newark style Italian Hot dog made with pizza bread, 2 10 to a lb Best skinless franks, peppers (green and red), onions, and potatoes cut in chunks, like Dickiee Dees.
5) Mick Married Marie. 2 Best dogs stuffed into pizza bread with potatoes, cheese wiz, and ketchup. This is the other of the five offerings that we did not sample.
I had the Ripper first. This is an easy dog to prepare and a hard one to screw up. Just heat it in oil for a sufficient amount of time. Many places that use this dog don't leave it in the oil long enough. At Rutt's, this is called an In n Outer. I prefer mine well done. Being that this was my first visit, I ordered mine well done and it came out as ordered. Customers are encouraged to watch the food being prepared and even to specify when they want the dogs plucked from the oil or to what degree they want them cooked to. Sharon has done her homework and visited many of the state's well known hot dog joints. As I mentioned, they pay great attention to detail. Sharon told me that the worse thing you can do to a hot dog is to not have it prepared hot enough. I agree. You will always get your dogs hot and fresh here. This was our experience. This (the Ripper) is one dog that I will have something other than mustard on. I had mustard on the dog and chili on half. The chili was homemade and very good. Not a Texas Weiner style chili, but a thick meaty one with a slightly spicy aftertaste. Ingredients include beef, sausage, bacon, and beer. It goes great on the Ripper. All in all an excellent dog.
Next up was the Charbroiled, or Syd's dog. This one waas prepared on a grill similar to Syd's. Sharon was familiar with how Syd's served their dogs (boiled first, then grilled) but here they are charbroiled without being placed in water. Or oil like Jimmy Buff's does it. They don't have a compartment big enough to fit these dogs in order to heat in water. I would suggest putting a pot on the griddle. My dog came out perfect. It was hot and juicy. I felt like I was back at Syd's. There is no finer dog, and I'm glad that there is now another place that serves this dog. Sharon was smart enough to realize how popular this dog was, and to offer it at her restaurant. It is her favorite as well. Also a very good value at $2.95. I had mine with just mustard. They usually put the dog on a longer roll. This is good if you are going to have chili or some other topping on your dog. I prefer the regular hot dog bun and requested this. It is a Pechters/Rockland Bakery dog.
Last was the Italian Hot Dog. The bread used came from Calandra's Bakery in Newark. I was skeptical when I heard this because the 2 times I had this bread on an Italian Hot Dog it fell apart. Not this time. It was sturdy and sufficient. The dogs were Best skinless, which in my opinion is the only choice for an Italian Hot Dog. These dogs, as well as the Rippers are fried in peanut oil. The peppers and onions are heated on the griddle, while the potato chunks are heated in the oil with the dogs. The Italian Hot Dog here was a very big, substantial sandwich at a great value. It went for $5.50. It was a solid, well prepared, better than average example of this sandwich. Although I prefer the potatoes sliced thin (like Jimmy Buff's and Tommy's), these were very good. Hot and tasty. They are boiled first and then fried.
Bubba's exceeded my expectations. Customer service is exemplary. I loved the owner's attitude and willingness to share information. I appreciate the research that she's done in an attempt to cater to the true hot dog lover. I like the attention to detail and the fact that every type of dog is prepared right, which is hard to do when you are doing more than one style. I also learned that some of their distributors allow them to have small quantities delivered frequently so that everything is fresh and doesn't stay long at the restaurant. They will visit the other manufacturer who will not ship a small quantity and buy what they need there.
I wish Sharon and Bubba's success. They are good people serving a fine product and providing excellent service. I would love to include them on the next Hot Dog Tour.