I hate hype. When some places have an impending opening or start receiving a flood of adoration, you can't look left or right but to see a blog writeup, a newspaper review or a tweet. The main reason for my ire is that I have been let down by hype on many occasions. For example, I was non plussed by king Heston's Dinner, where a sadly overcooked piece of pork, an absence of atmosphere and haughty prices led to a disappointing experience. Much the same with Pollen Street Social, where a table of six was squirrelled away down the side the bar, again devoid of atmosphere and serving some badly cooked misjudged plates of food.
As you can tell, I've been burnt in the past but I keep going back to see if the hypemonster could be vanquished. I haven't always been let down, trips to Hedone and Roganic were nothing short of a triumph, but I still approach any such place with trepidation. So here I was, standing on Old Street having taken the morning off to try some hot dogs from the one and only Big Apple Hot Dogs.
When I think of hot dogs, my immediate thoughts go to New York. Of the Sabrett trollies seemingly on every corner, of cheering through mouthfuls of hotdog as the Yankees hit yet another home run, of that piquant French's mustard dribbling all over the dog and that errant drop staining your white shirt with flecks of yellow. I never envisaged standing on Old street, listening to the hum of traffic where a solitary cart quietly goes about cooking their specially made sausages and onions.
The man behind Big Apple Hot Dogs is Abiye, cheery and eager to please. Having worked as a logistical manager for a petrol company in a previous life, he hated his constant battle with "the man" and decided to take his fate into his own hands. One of his last responsibilities was sourcing food at service stations and hit on the thought of hot dogs. It wasn't long before Abiye had jetted off to New York for inspiration. Fuelled by a childhood obsession with sausages, it wasn't long before Big Apple Hot Dogs was born.
Which brings me back to Old Street. I had taken a morning off especially for this, I was praying that this was going to be good and thankfully it was. Very good actually. Each bite into my Big Dog yielded a pleasing snap (apparently only present when using real intestines as sausage skins) and each chew flooding your mouth full of meaty juices. I had opted for the optional slow fried onion base and topped the dawg with straight up ketchup and the neon yellow French's mustard. I was trying to stay in line with convention, but there are a whole array of mustards and ketchups (amongst other sauces) if you fancy something a bit different.
I sat and digested for a little while and opted for round 2, one is never enough. I soon found out that two was slightly too many, especially if the the second was the behemoth which is the big Pole. Curled round the roll and weighing in at a larger than the rest £5, it's easily the same size as two regular dogs laid end to end. Made from a rougher and coarser cut, you can actually feel the individual chunks of meat as you bite down. A different recipe to the Big Dog, it is no less juicy or delicious. I struggled through but broke a bit off for "dessert" later in the day.
I am happy to report that there was nothing disappointing about Big Apple Hot Dogs. Like any food cart, there may be occasions when there is a queue, or occasions when the whole complement of dogs isn't available, but what you get is an excellent end product which is just bursting with flavour. It may seem crazy that I invested some of my precious holiday time just so I can go and visit this cart on Old Street, but there are absolutely no regrets. Do it and I am sure you will agree.
Big Apple Hot Dogs - 239 Old Street, London EC1V 9EY