Gourmet pizzas? Check. Gourmet burgers? Check. Gourmet hot dogs? Yes, check.
On A Roll Dog Kitchen in Mowbray was opened about six months ago by a real, talented chef, Peter Ayub.
By which I mean to say, this is not some greasy dive dishing out bulk viennas in a colour which does not naturally occur in food.
At this retro-styled diner, decorated in vivid yellow and red (mustard and ketchup, geddit?), you’ll find a menu of delicious dogs, all of which are served with a bowl of hot, crispy shoestring fries and three little pots of chilli and garlic paste, gherkin relish, and Portuguese prego sauce on the side.
When I first went to On A Roll back when they first opened, they were serving the wide variety of sausages on an almost equally variety of rolls. The wow-factor was raised with additional exciting toppings but I had a few criticisms at the time.
The first was that the rolls overpowered the sausages. For me a hot dog is all about the sausage; the roll is merely there to transport it to your mouth. The ciabattas and sour doughs, while being “gourmet”, made the dogs difficult to eat – toppings slid off, and the poor sausage was lost somewhere in the middle.
Also, at that time, the fries were served separately, which pushed the overall price of the meal up way too high.
You can still order an extra side dish of fries, by the way, as well as potato salad with buttermilk, Swiss chard and crispy bacon; Mediterranean roast vegetables; garden salad; corn on the cob with chilli butter; and a chickpea, lentil and pepper salad with orange and chive vinaigrette. This is Chef flexing his culinary muscles.
But I am sure you really want to know about the hot dogs, right? First of all, and most important to me, they have standardised the rolls – plain, soft hot dog rolls. Not only has it brought the cost down, but they are so much better and easier to eat. Okay, so how about this: A Red Rocket is a Bauernbratwurst sausage with beetroot chutney and wild rocket. The Durban-’n-All has a beef sausage with mango atchar and cucumber salsa. Those are just the first two on the menu.
On my last visit I had the Heart Stopper – a Käsegriller Emmenthaler sausage with tomato carpaccio and mixed salad greens – because I think there are few things in the world better than a sausage, unless it’s a sausage stuffed with cheese.
Not all the dogs are fancy, and the place is definitely family friendly with things like the Puppy (a small wiener with double tomato sauce) or a Naked Dog, which is just a wiener flying solo with caramelised onions. Sausages come in traditional German style (many containing pork, which is pointed out on the menu) as well as chicken, beef and even vegetarian. My non-meat-eating friend had the Lucky 13 and declared it to be as tasty as meat.
There loads of choices, and while On A Roll is fully licensed, a milkshake topped with mini marshmallows seems like the right thing to order – with or without vodka.
On A Roll is divided into two sections: smoking and non-smoking. The former is where you will find the bar and foosball tables, and over the months the addition of warming décor touches like old vinyl records and sleeves on the walls, candles and strings of red lighting have given the place a more welcoming vibe. They also now only play hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
I was very impressed with the tweaks and improvements at this fun place, and glad I had the opportunity to go back to try it again.