Monday, July 20, 2015

Snag Stand, Sydney

Update Review, May 2015 Visit

If you didn't read my original Snag Stand post, I suggest you start there, and then return to this update, since I'm skipping the background on Snag Stand this time around.  See "Original Review, February 2015 visit" below.

Our recent trip to Sydney started with a very long travel day to Sydney aboard Air New Zealand, from SFO to Auckland, and then Auckland to Sydney.  We checked into our hotel, took quick showers at the gym since our room wasn't ready, and headed to the office.  Many, many hours later it was finally 5pm, and we were ready to crash.  But somehow still at the office.  The subject of dinner came up.  I was so exhausted that I honestly didn't care about food (yes, this CAN happen to me!).  I wasn't hungry.  I literally had 4 breakfasts that "day" (as you read about on flight #1, then more at the Air New Zealand lounge, then another on flight #2, and finally at the Westin hotel executive lounge while we waited).  And then I had lunch at the office, plus we swung by Messina for gelato in the afternoon.  Oh, and then we had a company-wide TGIF party with snacks at 4pm.  I had no idea what time it was, what meal I should be eating, or if I even needed more food.  I just wanted to get to the hotel to unpack and unwind.

But ... I was with a big group of co-workers who did want dinner, and hey, we were in Sydney after all, how could I waste one precious night there?  But I needed something simple and easy.  Ojan suggested Snag Stand, since we'd been before, and that seemed like a great idea to me.  Super casual, everyone could get what they wanted since there are lots of options in the food court, and I could probably even sneak in a Chat Thai dessert too.

So, to the mall we headed.  I was basically sleepwalking at this point, but the memory of the amazing fries from Snag Stand kept me going.
Chicago Dog. $8.90.
"Grilled frankfurter topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomato, pickle spear, sport peppers & celery salt on a poppy seed roll."

One co-worker ordered the Chicago Dog.  I was sad it didn't have any bright green relish, but otherwise, it looked fairly legit.  He seemed happy enough.
Spicy Cheese Kransky. $9.90.
"Freshly grilled with semi sun-dried tomatoes, sriracha mayo, and cheddar cheese on a toasted brioche roll."

Ojan and I were both entirely indecisive.  But one coworker (who wasn't with us on this visit), told us over and over again to get the Spicy Cheese Kransky, so, we did.  I was too tired to think straight, otherwise I probably would have realized that this wasn't going to be something I would like.

When I picked up the dog, I immediately realized my failure.  Remember how we didn't like the "Australian Fare" sausage that Ojan ordered last time?  In part because it just had a bunch of unmelted cheese on top?  Um, yeah.  Same thing here, tons of white cheddar cheese, just sitting there on top.  I really don't see the appeal!  Why dearest Australians, do you want unmelted cheese on your dogs?  I was picturing something slathered in a cheese sauce, more like a Philly cheesesteak.

I also don't ever really care for sun-dried tomatoes.  Not that I dislike them, but, they just are not a flavor I am crazy about.

And Kransky?  I didn't even really know what that was, but, it is polish sausage.  It was nicely grilled, a decent char on the outside, juicy and moist.  But certainly not my style of sausage.

The toasted brioche bun I did love, fluffy, light, and toasted to order.

I didn't care for this at all, but, I think I just totally ordered the wrong thing.  It was one of the priciest selections at $9.90.
Snack Size Chips. $2.90.
The sausage didn't matter anyway.  I was there for the chips (yes, fries to you Americans).  I loved them so much last time.  I didn't expect them to live up to my memory exactly, but I figured they would still be good.

They weren't.  They clearly weren't as fresh.  Served lukewarm at best.  The exterior wasn't as crispy as I recalled, the inside not as soft and fluffy.  They weren't bad exactly, but just basic thick fries, barely warm.  Sadness.

Last time, we ordered the larger size and I devoured them.  This time, we didn't even finish our small "snack" size serving, even though Ojan and I are the only ones at the table who ordered fries.  No one else wanted more than one either.
Herb Aioli. $1.
 Of course, half the magic of the fries last time was the dipping sauces.  I knew I didn't want the bbq or the gravy.   Ojan doesn't like truffle, so the truffle aioli was out.  I don't tend to love chipotle, so the chipotle mayo was out.  That left the sriracha mayo, which I had last time and did enjoy, and the herb aioli.  I decided to go for the herb aioli, just to try something new.

It was ... basic, creamy aioli, with herbs.  Not much more to say about it.  Just pretty basic, good enough, but the sriracha mayo was definitely a more flavorful and interesting choice.  I wouldn't go for herb aioli again.

Original Review, February 2015 visit

Snag Stand is a "haute dog" shop located in the Westfield Mall in Sydney.  And yes, I went there.  And no, it wasn't because they serve amazing dessert (like the other hot dog place we visited, Chanoma Cafe, that I most certainly went to just for the matcha ice cream).

Partially the reason was simple: laziness.  We were staying close by the Westfield, and the food court made for a very easy meal, which we took advantage of many times, including going to Din Tai Fung for dumplings, Chatime for bubble tea, Bécasse Bakery for cronuts, and Chat Thai for lots of desserts.

Our visit to Snag Stand was also inspired by how easy the food court makes it for everyone to get different things from different vendors, and then just meet to sit in the communal dining together.  But, I'm obviously still an opinionated food snob, and just convenience will never get me to visit somewhere.  The food has to be good!

I researched everywhere in the food court in advance, and I was intrigued by Snag Stand.  Snag Stand has several locations throughout Australia, just this one in Sydney.  They are a hot dog shop obviously, but they take pride in the quality of the products.  They list the names of the butchers they work with, boast the fact that the dogs are all made in small batches, they use natural casings, and don't gunk everything up with artificial additives.

The menu revolves around the dogs, dubbed "haute dogs", each named creations.  They use all different bases (wagyu sausage, chorizo, German bratwurst, or frankfurters), several types of bun (poppy seed, rustic, or brioche), plus tons of crazy toppings (garlic mashed potatoes, coleslaw, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes), veggies (baby rocket, sautéed onions, pickles, sports peppers, sauerkraut, rosemary mushrooms), and are finished with sauces (smokey bbq, truffle aioli, herb aioli, sweet relish, beetroot relish, sraracha mayo, herbed gravy).  The menu does not imply that you can create your own, or even omit an ingredient in a pre-defined creation, although it may be possible?

All dogs can be made vegetarian, and gluten-free rolls are also available.  Snag Stand also offers a few types of burgers (beef or chicken), plus only two sides: fries and onion rings.  If you are looking for something besides a burger, hotdog, or fries, then, go elsewhere, which is easy, since it is a food court after all.  But if you want the best fries ever, look no further!
Snag Stand Ordering Counter.
The shop is a classic food court setup, order at a register, get a number and wait, eventually out comes a plastic tray with your food on it.
Regular Size Chips. $3.90. Smokey BBQ, Sriaracha Mayo. $1 each.
"100% Tasmanian russet potatoes cooked in cholesterol free oil and seasoned with natural sea salt".

I read a lot of rave reviews about the chips (fries), which is the only reason I wanted to try them.  We ate a lot of fried food in our time in Australia, and a lot of potato products, including really disappointing fries the day before at Watson Bay Beach Club, and fried prawn toasts the day before that at Ms. G's, after which Ojan and I both declared we weren't eating more fried food for a while.  But if the chips were THAT good, maybe we needed to try them?

Best. Decision. Ever. The chips had a super crispy exterior, yet were soft and fluffy inside.  Yes, they were oily, but not in a gross way.  They really were some of the best fries I've ever had.  The thickness was particularly notable, not quite as thick as a wedge or a steak fry, but much thicker than standard fries.  They did something magic with these fries, and I'm not sure what it was exactly.  Also, they were piping hot.  Even as I tried to slow down and stop devouring them, they stayed perfectly hot.

There were six dipping sauces to choose from: house gravy, smokey bbq, fresh herb aoli, truffle aioli, chipotle mayo, or sriaracha mayo, all used on the dogs too.  I had Ojan pick the sauces, and he went for the bbq and sriaracha mayo.  I probably would have picked either of the aiolis, but any creamy mayo generally works for me (also, why did they have both aioli and mayo?  Were they really different bases?)

The bbq I didn't like, it was just too sweet for me, and I didn't really taste the promised smokiness.

The sriaracha mayo however was great, just enough heat to it to be interesting, and it definitely jazzed up the fries.

I told Ojan to just order the smaller snack size, and he got the larger one, and uh, I'm glad he did.  Let's just say I had no problem polishing these off, no matter how much I'd sworn off more fried food.  Fried potato dipped in mayo can be a thing of glory, and Snag Stand does it right.

The other choices for sides are onion rings and chili cheese fries.  I'm now tempted to try the onion rings!

[ No Photo ]
"Australia Fare". $8.90.

Of course, Snag Stand is known for their "haute dogs", not the fries, right?  They were unfortunately sold out of many of the dogs that day, for reasons I don't really understand.  It was only lunchtime when we were there.  I didn't go for a dog and opted for other food from another stand, but, Ojan was there for a hotdog!

Feeling inspired by our location, he went for the "Australia Fare", described as "grilled wagyu sausage on a toasted brioche roll with sautéed onions, cheddar cheese, & smokey BBQ sauce."

Once he received it, he realized it wasn't really what he wanted at all, and he was just feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, and picked it without really reading the description.  I unfortunately did not get a photo, as I was a bit too busy devouring the fries.  This should give you some idea of how good those fries were, as I rarely get distracted enough to forget to get a photo!

While I agree that this was certainly not the dog I would have ever picked, I think there is hope for Snag Stand.  The flavor of the wagyu beef was really good, although it reminded me more of a hamburger, just a hotdog shaped one.  The onions were generously applied and nicely cooked.  But since I really disliked the bbq sauce, the fact that the whole thing was smothered in the sauce really ruined it for me.  The cheddar cheese was just shredded cheese, totally unmelted, which I didn't care for at all.  The bun didn't seem all that "brioche-y" to me, but, it was soft and slightly sweet, and I thought was pretty nice.

Overall, there was quality here, even if neither of us liked this particular dog.  It was also huge, and ridiculously messy, but they wisely include silverware with it.  The price might be a bit high for "just a hotdog", but, it really was a complete meal.
Snag Stand on Urbanspoon
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