Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Good to go Organics (hot dog stand - SE Corner of Central Park)

I Don't know if I agree with the companies line of rhetoric claiming they combine the features of a food cart and a farmer's food stand, but I do like some variety in my carts and I think the natural/organic variation is a good one.  You can get more information directly from the horse's mouth here: http://www.goodtogoorganics.com/ or you can read on for my take on this place.

As I said, I think going organic is a great idea for a food cart.  Good-to-Go has partnered with AppleGate farms, a well known commercial brand that is making a splash in the organic meats world.  I visited this particular cart at nearly 3pm and was surprised to find a line, often a good sign, though in this case it's because the dogs take some time to prepare.  They aren't just boiled dogs pulled out of steaming water, these guys take the time to griddle them up a bit, and will even saute some onions for you if you ask (it's a little extra).  

Joe, the dude behind the counter
I chatted up Joe, the dude behind the counter, and asked for what he would recommend.  They have a somewhat extensive menu for a hot dog stand including 3 kinds of dogs, 2 sausages, and 3 vegetarian options.  They also sell burgers, but I won't get into that.  He actually recommended the chicken sausage with spinach and feta, but I don't do the whole cheese thing (it makes my stomach explosive) and settled for the other sausage (chicken and apple) and a beef dog.  Here's what I discovered.

The Dog: 5/5 (the sausage gets a 2/5)
 So, the difference between the hot dog and the sausage was pretty substantial.  I don't know if it's this particular flavor of sausage instead of the recommended one, or Applegate farms, or if it was overcooked, or what, but the chicken sausage was dry and bland.  I've had delicious store bought chicken sausages before (Like Adele's - review coming, don't worry) but this didn't do it for me.  It was paired with a whole wheat pita for the bun, which is a fun idea but not a good reality.  It gives the dog a strange crumbly/brittle texture and adds to the blandness of flavor, if that's even possible; it's like being extremely mediocre.
The beef hot dog, however, BAM!  Delicious and distinctive, with what I would call an authentic beef flavor.  A firm bite, great snap, and the addition of a potato roll bun was fantastic.  All the flavors balance out very well with none overpowering the others.  My only complaint is that the meat to bun ration is a little skewed in favor of the bun, but that doesn't interfere with the great taste.

Value: 3/5
Not a bad value at all.  I expect most organic versions of common foods to be significantly more expensive, and this isn't.  Hot dogs are $3.50 and sausages (including veggie ones) are $5, only a dollar more than the standard street variety, and I'd say the increase in quality, especially for the hot dog, is significant.  They also have meal deals, which is nice, though they average around $10.

Acoutrement: 4/5
Delicious dog on the left, weird pita thing on the right
I was impressed by their offerings.  As I mentioned before, they actually have a griddle in there, which means they can do grilled onions (extra); a rare treat for street food.  They also have your choice of yellow or spicy mustard, ketchup, relish, kraut (extra), and (my personal favorite) horseradish mustard by Annie's.  They mentioned they might phase that out, so go visit the stand and hoot and holler about it because it's one of the best parts of the experience.  I'd have liked to see the kraut and onions for free and maybe a mayo option, but the horseradish mustard makes up for it.

Other: 5/5
Well, for one it's all organic, which is awesome.  And not just the dogs; just about everything is organic and natural including drinks and potato chips; they've gone all out and I appreciate that sort of integrity in their vision.  Also, the potato buns are wonderful; more hot dog places should offer that.  The addition of vegetarian and non-beef options are worth mentioning as well, few carts offer those choices and it fits with the entire theme.  Well done.

Overall Score: 4/5
I think this is a great idea for a stand and they've got a solid beginning.  Right now I'd say they offer perhaps a few too many choices and could be a little choosier with what it is they are offering and focus their product a little more.  A beef sausage would be a great option.  BUT, the hot dog is tasty and the quality is high.  Definitely check it out and give them your feedback, they are a new company and open to making things better.

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