Amateur Gourmet Survivor Champ Andrea urged me in a long-ago e-mail to try F&B. “It’s amazing,” she wrote in her e-mail. “Seriously.”
I passed F&B many times on my excursions across 23rd street. It’s across the street from the movie theater. It’s next door to the Krispy Kreme and Ben & Jerry’s. It’s near Starbucks, Murray’s bagels, and Dunkin’ Donuts. There are many reasons to walk past F&B. Just hadn’t found a reason, yet, to go inside.
And then last night I was hungry and Burritoville (which is also across the street from F&B) was packed. Boston Market looked a little too Boston Markety (there was a time that I liked Boston Market, but I think I’m passed that) and so F&B it was.
I walked inside not knowing what to expect. The first thing I noticed was the music. It was New Age meets funk meets trendy store on the Lower East Side. There were huge framed clippings of F&B in the press. And then there were two aisles of stools and silver counters. The room was dark and the service counter had a certain post-modern Pulp Fictiony hipness quotient. Which is strange when you consider that they sell hot dogs.
But the hot dog menu was exciting. All sorts of weird combinations. For example a salmon hot dog (no, I’m not kidding) with creme fraiche and caviar served with a mini-bottle of champagne. That cost more than $10 so I went with the Top Dog—a chili dog with mustard, sauerkraut and bacon–sweet potato fries and a lemonade. It added up to $8, which is still pricy for hot dog type food:
To my surprise, however, it was well worth it. The hot dog was delicious. The sauerkraut had really interesting unexpected flavors–like cloves, for example, and something cidery. Perhaps cider?
The sweet potato fries were unstoppable. Meaning, I couldn’t stop eating them. And the lemonade hit the spot.
My guilt meter was still on high (chili dogs always make me feel guilty) but it moved down a notch when I realized that this was an exciting, outre hot dog. In fact the entire experience was outre: “Highly unconventional; eccentric or bizarre”—in a very good way. Next time I crave funky hot dogs and unstopple sweet potato fries, you’ll know where to find me.