Cnr Latrobe and Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9639 6544
It seems that Sydneysiders have a thing for turning simple, no-frills street food into fancy, high-end versions of themselves. Just like Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke have done to a humble pair of black leggings (slap on some PVC and a price tag of $200 a pop, and watch everyone go wild), others in Sydney have done the same thing to food including burgers (Neil Perry, Rockpool), rice paper rolls (Nahji Chu, Miss Chu) and the classic meat pie (Wayne Homschek, Pie Face). Then there’s the whole taco reinvention thing, but let’s not get into that today. Of course, something as modest as the hot dog ain’t exempt from this sort of treatment – and with that, I present you Snag Stand.
Established in Sydney by American-born Phillip Blanco, Snag Stand arrived in Melbourne earlier this year and has proven to be a hit among those fed up with crappy $5 hot dogs at the ‘G and those who’d just missed out on snagging (tee-hee! Pun!) the last bratwurst roll at Queen Vic Market. Its central location makes it an ideal place for a quick bite before the train ride home and for lucky RMIT students looking for non-cafeteria options for lunch.
According to Blanco, Snag Stand differentiates itself from other hot dog providers because of the high quality ingredients used. Here, the sausages are hand-crafted, rather than bought in bulk from Coles; their casings natural, rather than synthetic and no artificial colours or flavours are used. The sausages come from all sorts of trusted suppliers around the country, with the Melbourne branch receiving most of their snags from Jonathan’s Butchery in Collingwood. Thus, one can reasonably expect that, for $6-10, their ‘haute’ dog will be one of designer quality.
The first time I went, I had the American classic ($6.90). The frankfurter was wood-smoked, presumably to give it a bit of dimension, and the bun, a toasted brioche. In between, the standard yellow mustard, tomato sauce, onions and sweet green pickle relish made appearances. The result was, well, something that tasted a little bit fancier than your $2.49 hotdog from Costco, except that you didn’t get free softdrink refills at Snag Stand. As an aside, Marty did make a comment on how the green sauce looked a lot like a caterpillar – heh!
On my second visit, I decided to go ooh-la-la-super-fancy by ordering the Toulouse, which was just shy of $10. It seems that the toasted brioche roll is the default bread option here because it made an appearance yet again, this time with sautéed onions, rosemary, mushrooms and truffle aioli along with a Bangalow pork sausage. Although I liked the sausage, which had a lovely rustic taste, I did feel that the truffle aioli overpowered what would have been a deliciously rustic and earthy-tasting hot dog with attitude (even if there was barely anything French about it – except for the brioche and err, I guess the ‘truffles’).
The chips here aren’t bad, either. For $3.90, I got a small tub of crunchy, roughly cut chips, which were made out of Tasmanian russet potatoes. Yarms. I also got some fresh herb aioli to go with it ($1 per tub). In hindsight, I should have chosen a tub of curry ketchup or chipotle mayo simply because I was already getting a healthy dose of aioli on my Toulouse hot dog but that’s not to say that the herb aioli was bad.
In short, Snag Stand is definitely a breathe of fresh air and one of the few ‘haute street food’ franchises from Sydney that I am actually pleased to see (now, if only Pie Face would just eff off, kindly). Sure, nothing will ever beat a classic bratwurst from Queen Vic Market but this comes pretty close. While I’m in no real rush to order the over-powering Toulouse snag, I will definitely order the American classic again. That is, after I’ve tried some of the other enticing options on the rotating menu such as the Greek (using a lamb, rosemary and oregano sausage, of course) and the currywurst.
On that note, I’m off to Sydney tomorrow for the weekend. While I’m not looking to encounter any designer satay cafes nor am I keen to eat a single pie, I’m definitely looking forward to finally trying the famed snow egg dessert at Quay and eating my way through a leisurely lunchtime degustation at Sepia.