306 Black Rock Tpke Fairfield, CT
Cost: I forget, but it was something like 4 bucks for a New Englander Hot Dog
It bears repeating – and will be repeated again – I am not a meat eater. I hadn’t eaten a beef/pork hot dog for about 10 years before beginning this list of Roadfood’s best, um, road food around the country (though, of course, I’m sticking to Connecticut only). So I admit upfront that not only am I certainly not a food reviewer of any repute, I definitely am lost when it comes to things like dogs and burgers.
That said, I’m a little perplexed about the love Super Duper Weenie (SDW henceforth) gets across the foodie and blogger world. Sure, it’s a neat story and the fact that they make all their own condiments is cool, but I just don’t get it. Not that my so-so opinion will put any dent into SDW’s brisk business. This place is an icon already and it’s younger than me.
I visited in the middle of a day-long museum fest through Fairfield and Norwalk with friends Rob and Yvonne. Rob is more of a hot dog and fries expert than I am, but Yvonne doesn’t usually eat such things.
Super Duper Weenie, painting by John Baeder
We arrived at the tiny restaurant and were able to grab the last parking spot available. There was a small line and the odd indoor picnic area was filled with happy patrons. (The crowd situation really hampered my picture taking. I felt like a complete dork taking pictures with random people at my shoulders.) I knew what my order would be: A “New Englander” hot dog and some fries – supposedly a “national best” according to Roadfood. A two-for-one eatery! (The hot dogs received an “honorable mention” in the book.)
The Roadfood Experience Excerpt: (From the book “500 Things to Eat Before it’s Too Late”):
“Formerly a mobile truck selling hot dogs by the side of the road, Super Duper Weenie is now a stationary restaurant with indoor seating. As you might suspect from its name, the house specialty is a hot dog. It is a firm-fleshed, locally-made weenie that is split and cooked on the grill until its outside gets a little crusty but the inside stays succulent. It is sandwiched in a lovely fresh-baked roll and adorned with utterly amazing condiments — homemade condiments, including relish made from pickles that Chef Gary Zemora has himself made from cucumbers! The sauerkraut, the hot relish, the meat chili, the onion sauce are ALL made from scratch. (Gary used to be chef at the esteemed South Norwalk Italian restaurant Pasta Nostra. When his passion for hot dogs brought him to Super Duper Weenie about eight years ago, he lost none of that restaurant’s perfectionism.)”
Other blogs go into far more detail while outlining their love for the place. Take AlwaysTraveling: “Zemora [a Culinary Institute of America trained chef – Steve] quit his job and opened up shop in 1992 with the mindset of a serious gourmand. When the restored roadside hot dog truck developed a cult-like following, it was time to open a sit-down restaurant to better accommodate the legions of loyal Super Duper Weenie diners…The specialty of the house are the locally-sourced, smoked hot dogs, which are split down the middle and cooked on a griddle until a crusty shell seals the succulent juices inside… Like many great chefs, Zemora is a perfectionist. Only fresh-baked rolls will suffice, and Zemora’s high-standards also inform his homemade condiments – meat chili, onion sauce, coleslaw, and sweet and hot relishes (both made from scratch with Zemora’s own pickled cukes). With such care put into the accoutrements, it’s only fitting that the menu offers spellbinding combinations like the Dixie (meat chili and coleslaw) and the New Yorker (sauerkraut, onion sauce, mustard and hot relish).”
The CTMQ Experience:
Frankly (get it?), I don’t get it. I ordered “The New Englander” because that’s what I was supposed to do. The problem with that is, I don’t like sauerkraut. And SDW’s kraut is very sauer. It has a tang that always turns me off. It also has bacon, mustard, sweet relish, and raw onion. I’m not sure I like sweet relish either.
The New Englander
But, the fact that Zemora makes this stuff fresh from scratch is to be applauded. There are other creative offerings on the menu, which you can see here. Half way through my dog, I removed all the condiments and found that the naked hot dog was actually bland. My bread was made soggy, which is one of my top pet peeves in the world.
The atmosphere at SDW is fun and quaint and I know that I’m in the tiny minority that doesn’t sing SDW’s praises. (For more, I was also disappointed in the fries which are ranked higher by Roadfood.) Just Google them and you won’t believe how much is out there.
Proof that I ate it. (Though it was after this picture when I dumped out the sauerkraut)
Oh, and they’ve been on national TV more than once. Here’s a Letterman segment featuring them. (Note: I, too went through a ton of napkins with my messy dog.) They were featured on PBS’s “A Hot Dog Program” which pops up ever summer.
And, most recently, that goofball Guy Fieri took his show “Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins” there where he was positively nuts over the food:
I’m left to wonder, what’s wrong with me? What am I missing? It was a decent hot dog and I finished it, but I won’t be going back any time soon. At least this was only an “Honorable Mention” in the Roadfood book.