It's easy to forget in this land of flare-covered walls and celebrity chefs that in some cities it's possible to get a full belly of quality food for a couple of bucks. If only we woke up one day to find that the street vendors of New York had taken their carts south for the summer, bringing soft pretzels, knishes, Italian ice and those fabled hot dogs to our shores. Fortunately, the next best thing is hiding behind the Orlando Regional Medical Center.
The two women who own and operate the Jazzy Dog CafÃ©, Debbie Arent and Peggy Swope, couldn't be more hilarious, and they serve a mean weenie. The dogs are Sabrett's, which are world-famous for their signature snap. Blue-and-yellow Sabrett's umbrellas line NYC streets and many claim they are the preferred brand of New Yorkers.
The definition of a true New York red hot is hotly debated. On Jazzy's New York Dog ($2.99), Debbie uses a sweet, chunky Vidalia onion sauce that New Yorkers refer to as red sauce, in addition to sauerkraut and mustard. Everything snaps or crunches. This one's definitely for the anti-ketchup faction.
The namesake Jazzy Dog ($3.19), however, is an unusual sparring of flavors: The frank is topped with blue cheese coleslaw and sweet-potato mustard and served on a pretzel bun. Debbie makes the slaw with a creamy blue-cheese dressing base and then adds the cabbage and blue-cheese crumbles. The sweet-potato mustard by itself is overly sweet, but when paired with the bite of the blue cheese and the density of the pretzel bun, it is excellent. A regular bun probably couldn't stand up to this combo.
The California Dog (3.29) bears real crumbled bacon, shredded Swiss and avocado spread. To my amazement, this was my favorite dog (though the Jazzy came in a close second). The bacon countered the velvety spread with a robust zestiness. The Beenie Weenie dog ($2.99) was adequate, but definitely for people with a sweet tooth. It comes topped with baked beans and cheddar, but Debbie recommends adding barbecue sauce. While not bad, it was the blandest dog. With so many to choose from, this is only for those who truly love the magical fruit.
For the knishes ($2.25), the ladies went straight to the source, and use the same distributor as Coney Island's famous knishes. The potato filling has that characteristic slight sour tang and is smooth, not grainy like some fake potato products. Ask for yours to be put in the 'greaseless fryerâ?� to punch up the crispiness of the outer dough.
That greaseless fryer was intriguing. It's a super convection oven, driving hot air around french fries or knishes until they're cooked. The fries were nice and crispy; good for the waistline, but missing that satisfying greasiness.
If you choose to abstain from tubesteaks altogether, there's a menu of baked potatoes and sweet potatoes with six different condiment combinations or your own choice of the 48 toppings on offer. The wholesome sweetness of a baked sweet potato ($4.99) dripping with sour cream, butter and melting brown sugar is sinfully satisfying, better than any rich dessert.
It may not be New York, but Jazzy Dog's dogs are worth a trip down the back streets.
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