The Martini Bistro & Bar is a popular spot in the Millburn/Short Hills area. They are known for their excellent martinis and cocktails as well as their food. Over 50 varieties of martinis are offered. I don't drink Martinis, but my wife and friends swear by them. I stick with beer. There is a good selection of imports and micros. At least 10 beers on tap. Last time I had an Anchor Steam Beer.
I've enjoyed a few beers and an outstanding Sirloin Burger while watching a game. But what has me excited is the news that the Martini Bar will be adding a quality hot dog to their menu. There is nothing I like to eat more. The dog will be the same frank that was served at the late, great Syd's in the Millburn Mall. Syd's was named the best hot dog in New Jersey the very first year that the Newark Star Ledger ran the Munchmobile series. In the summer of '06 a panel of hot dog lovers reviewed 87 different hot dog establishments, sampling well over 100 different dogs. Although hot dogs were rated in 5 categories, the panel was asked to name their favorite overall dog. Five out of 8 chose Syd's. Unfortunately, Syd's lease was not renewed. For a few months the owner sold his dogs at a small diner in Springfield before calling it quits to persue other interests. Fortunately there are still a few places scatterred around where you can enjoy what I consider the best hot dog. The Martini Bar will be the next one and the first that isn't a traditional hot dog joint or luncheonette.
The frankfurter itself is a natural casing, 5 to a lb all beef dog made by Best Provisions. It is long and thin with a great snap and an excellent flavor resulting from a mixture of choice and lean beef and an excellent blend of spices. At Syd's you had a choice of getting it boiled or grilled. Grilled was actually boiled first and then charbroiled. Most ordered it grilled.
I was lucky enough to sample one this past week. The Martini Bar's hot dog will be boiled, then chargrilled. You can order it just boiled if you wish. It will come on a plate with 3 smaller plates attatched that will have mustard, relish, and sauerkraut. Commonly referred to in Essex County as "sweet works". You may substitute a homemade red onion mix if you want. The dog will be put on a good sturdy toasted bun. With this comes an order of the best fries I've had yet. Hand cut, twice fried, and a little thicker than your normal fry prepared this way. And better tasting as well.
The dog was prepared perfectly as were the fries. What a presentation! Although fancy looking, this is in reality a simple old school hot dog. Great tasting, with a minimum of basic toppings. No need to add a lot of esoteric junk that diminishes what a hot dog is supposed to be. I enjoyed mine with just mustard (an excellent deli mustard) and had the sauerkraut on the side. The fries were the perfect companion to the dog. It all goes for $6.00 which is a bargain for this type of establishment. If you want another dog, it will be $3.00, which is less than what Syd's sold their's for.
Ted Stampoulos is an owner of the Martini Bar. His family owned a hot dog restaurant in the past called the James Inn. It was located on Springfield Ave. in the Vauxhall section of Union. Ted loves hot dogs and has been wanting to add one to the menu. Occasionally his customers will ask for one. I'll post again to let you know when the new menu comes out. It should be this week or next. I also sampled the Kobe Slider Trio from the appetizer section. Three small Kobe burgers with cheddar cheese and 3 dipping sauces. I had mine plain. It was the first time I sampled kobe beef burgers. They were simply the best burgers I've tasted. Medium rare, juicy, with an intense beef flavor. Like nothing else I've had.
I'm glad to see a quality hot dog come to an establishment like the Martini Bar. Even if you're not a hot dog lover, the rest of the food is top notch. Worth checking out.