Friday, February 1, 2013

Destination Dogs - New Brunswick, NJ

Destination Dogs is in New Brunswick, NJ. They've been open over a year now. The three owners met while working at another restaurant. One of them had the idea through his love of travel, another had the skills as a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and the third was the business end of the business.

As you can probably tell by the name and logo of the restaurant, the theme revolves around travel. Everything you eat represents a different area of the world. From New York to Texas, Canada to Greece, a lot of different places get represented here. What isn't currently represented, might show up as a limited edition thing as they are always experimenting.

My Mom ordered me a gift certificate for my birthday, so the other night I decided to take a friend for food and we made Destination our destination. As I mentioned earlier, the place is in New Brunswick. It's a busy college town. So, expect circle the block a few times in order to find parking, or park a few blocks away. If you're only going to be an hour or less, the parking garage is a cheap option at $2. Up to two hours is $4. Prices head up from there. It's only a short walking distance.  It's also close to the train.

As soon as I entered I was greeted by one of the owners, Sean Hosty, I believe. Kind of funny that the host's last name was host. That's like an ice cream man whose last name is Cone. I had already browsed the menu on their beautiful website you can see here. While the website is nice I'd have liked to see more pictures of the food. My friend needed a minute to decide what he wanted and as he was deciding I was second guessing my decisions. Just about everything on the menu sounds good! We took a good ten minutes of argument and debate to finally make our way to the cash register.

After ordering Sean introduced me to one of the other owners, Jimmy. He liked our debate. Do we cut the dogs in half to share or not? Do we order only their exotic sausages or do we get a good old hot dog to see how they treat it?

While waiting for our food we all discussed other hot dogs in the state, and around the country. As we talked, I name dropped my friend Hawk Krall who draws awesome hot dog art and showed them some of his work, and Sean name dropped New Jersey Hot Dog Celebrity, John Fox, whom I'm very familiar with and have spoken with on occasion. Throughout the whole conversation, it's very clear these guys are lovers of encased meats.

All of their sausages are hand made on premises. You can order pre made combinations from a Destination around the world or you can make up your own. They make Duck, Shrimp & Alligator, Lamb, Spanish Chorizo, Wild Boar, Bratwurst, Breakfast, Swedish Meatball, Chicken, Pork, and also a Vegetarian Sausage. They do have a hot dog on the menu, but currently it's a Sabrett's 8/1. They're working on their own hot dog recipe, but are still tweaking to get it just right. You should mention the not on the menu "Gucci" dog whose full name I can't spell. It won't set you back a fortune like the leather hand bag maker of similar name. From time to time they make other sausages out of other things like antelope. I live over an hour away now, but I'd gladly make the drive if they had some other interesting meats.. reindeer, venison, black bear, kangaroo, iguana, am I listing stuff that's even legal in the United States?

We ordered truffle fries, onion rings, a Conquistadog (Spain), The Slum Dog Meal-ionaire (India), The Completo (Chile), and a Swede-Dreams (Sweden). All of the other names are funny and well thought out.

The buns are kind of like a good bread you'd use for a grilled cheese. One side looks as if it was buttered and perfectly grilled. Everything we received was pretty good sized.. kind of hard to fit it all in my mouth. What you see above have been cut in half so my friend and I could share and try every dog. They also come with some potato chips.

First up, I'll get the bad out of the way. The truffle fries. While the fries were fresh, thin, skin on, and cooked nicely, they were too salty and I got no truffle flavor at all. A little disappointed because I love truffle! I even love truffle oil which usually isn't even truffle. Next up is the good, EVERYTHING ELSE WE ATE!!

Onion Rings - Fantastic. One of the best onion rings I've ever had. They were nice big slices of onion, thick batter, and well coated. The whole onion was coated, no open spots, which I think made them a little less greasy.

Swede-Dreams - This is the sausage in the lower right of my picture. It's a swedish meatball sausage topped with gravy, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry jam. The sausage had a great flavor and I definitely recognized the Swedish meatball in it. The mashed potatoes were nice and fluffy, and that jam really gave it a nice touch. I would have liked a tad more jam. My friend is not totally a fan of swedish meatballs or salisbury steak, so it's understandable that he might not try this one again, but I'd order this one again for sure.

The Conquistadog - This is in the top right. It's a spicy chorizo sausage with fried potatoes, spicy mayo, and scallions. I've got a love/hate relationship with chorizo. I either love or hate it. I've had it before where it had a good consistency, but I've also had it with chunky, hard, and fatty pieces in it, which was a big turn off. The chorizo here was very good. It seemed a little thinner than some of their other sausages. Even without the spicy mayo the chorizo was hot. Both of us would gladly order this again.

The Completeo - This is an all beef dog topped with avocado, tomatoes, cheese sauce, onions, and cilantro. At first I didn't even know the dog was a Sabrett's. The whole combination was so tasty, I thought they made it by hand as well. I think it was a combination of the toppings and the ambiance. Hanging out with a good friend of mine and making new friends with the owners. Another winner, but we both agreed it could have used some more avocado.

The Slum Dog Meal-ionaire - I saved this one for last because it was our least favorite out of the bunch. But don't blame the vegetarian sausage. I just think we both weren't in the mood for a samosa. This sausage is topped with samosa filling and a red curry sauce. From what I saw the sauce was yellow. I think I would have enjoyed the vegetarian sausage more on it's own or made as another Destination, which they will do if you want. From what I could tell the vegetarian sausage wasn't quite held together. It holds together well on a bun, but if I tried to hold the actual sausage in my hand it would squish. It kind of has the consistency of mashed potatoes with a vegetable flavor. Next time I visit Destination I'm going to fly this vegetarian sausage solo.

After we ate my friend had a Cyclone, which is a hot dog with chili, onions, and spicy brown mustard. I can't really comment on this since I didn't try it, but from what my friend said the chili was very meaty and not greasy. I could definitely see it wasn't greasy.

If you're in the area, give this place a try. There's lots of other stuff in New Brunswick like bars, or Court Tavern where they have live bands play, so you can make a trip out of it or if you're just a foodie like me you can just go for the sausages.

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