Football fans go to the Superbowl. Soccer lovers travel to the World Cup. But for sausage aficionados, the apex of sausage debauchery is a visit to DBGB. A true pinnacle of sausage science, this glorious establishment is the Mount Everest of tubed meat and I tried to climb every inch of that bad boy…
My first visit to DBGB several months ago in lower Manhattan was a bit whimsical. I’d heard about it through word of mouth folklore but hadn’t appropriately researched all that it had to offer enough to prepare myself for what I was about to experience. As a result, I found myself overwhelmed by a huge list of sausages, labeled as appetizers, but carrying price tags close to that of a full sausage entrée anywhere else. So let’s get this straight right off the bat…the sausages at DBGB are expensive – New York or not – but bear with me…some of them are well worth the price of admission.
So I was in NYC on business and purposely delayed my trip home to tackle a flight of sausages. My goal was to try at least 3 different varieties but as you’ll see below, I got the “kid in a candy store” mentality about half-way through and ended up chowing down 5 big ones with the gentle prodding of DBGB’s resident mixologist “Harper”. Harper had a good handle on wiener preparation and was a good advisor when it came to choosing my line-up of links. The only thing that stopped me from eating all 14 sausages on the menu was the threat of missing the last train out of Manhattan.
* As a side note, I have to mention that Harper was the first bartender I’ve ever encountered in New York City with any sense of what it means to be in the hospitality business. He had a warm personality, a helpful salesy slant and a genuine interest in and rapport with his customers. I’ve been coming to New York as an adult for 15 years and this was the first time a bartender wasn’t a total d*ck. He must be from the South or something because we don’t breed service personnel like that in these parts. So Props to Harper for being helpful and not being a d*ck. I digress…
The following pictures and descriptions should paint a picture of how respectful the owners of DBGB are when it comes to preparing and presenting sausage. I can’t say that every sausage on the menu — by itself — was a winner, but I will say that each collective plate, as a whole, was a wonderful meld of meat and functional garnish. So here is a recap of my experience:
Sausage #1: Coreenne – Korean-style pork with cucumber-bok choy pickle spicy kimchi coulis and shrimp chips.
I wasn’t sure what to expect here. For some reason I was thinking that the sausage would be sweet and barbecuey but it was more like a kielbasa…salty with a small kick at the end. The foundation of the plate was a fantastic pickled coulis which, for me, was the only thing that made this sausage remotely ethnic. I would have liked a little bit more Korea in the meat itself, but I understood…it was about the total dish. Perhaps too much seasoning in the sausage would have ruined the overall experience. And I didn’t quite get the “shrimp chip”. I think sometimes just because “you can”, doesn’t mean “you should”.
Sausage #2: Thai – pork, lemongrass and red curry links, green papaya, basil fried rice, chili sauce and quail egg
After the near miss on the Coreenne, I nearly panicked when I bit into the Thai sausage and it’s contents reminded me squarely of a typical supermarket breakfast link. My last experience with Thai sausage was quite blissful so I was surprised that DBGB didn’t at least match the spice, scent, and herbiness that I came to expect from a local Thai sausage made right here in Lancaster, PA. The real winner on this plate; however, (and the savior of the dish for that matter) was the basil fried rice. Amazingly flavor. The quail egg was a nice touch and added a hearty richness to the rice that I kinda liked. Egg or no egg, I’ll be getting this as a side next time I’m in town…hold the sausage.
Sausage #3: Louisiane – New Orleans-style garlic and pepper andouille, crayfish and ham gumbo, fried okra
So 2 blahzay sausages under my belt, I trudged on at the recommendation of the bar staff. Next up was a nice take on a Louisianna classic. Not much to say here other than…nice presentation, great flavors and perfect balance. The only thing I would add to this dish would be a little layer of dirty rice to the base of the cast iron pot. Overall though, the sausage was perfectly done…not too salty or spicy like some andouille’s can be. And the bayou gravy was full of wonderful little bits of onions, crayfish, carrots and other tasty stuff. The fried okra was a nice bonus too.
Sausage #4: Boudin Basque – blood and pigs head sausage, espellete pepper and scallion mashed potatoes
So things were looking better and I couldn’t leave without sampling some blood sausage. Fortunately DBGB has a nice version of it that I really, really like. It arrives looking like a hockey puck floating on a bed of vanilla frosting but once you crack through the crispy outer skin, the inside is moist and wonderfully spiced like blood sausage should be. Being a Basque variety, it’s a little chunkier that the South American types that I’m used to – but still okay in my book! I actually enjoyed the extra meatiness that came with those mystery chunks. The whipped potatoes sat firmly in a support role and, like good little spuds, didn’t interfere with the main event.
Sausage #5: Beaujolaise – pork, mushroom, onion, bacon and red wine with lentils
Quite unexpectedly I stumbled onto my favorite sausage of the night courtesy of Harper’s recommendation. Since I hadn’t seen the description of it prior to ordering, I had no idea I was about to fall in love. When it arrived, it looked like any other sausage on a bed of lentils – but man was I wrong. I knew something cool was about to happen when I cut into it and a few random chunks rolled out of the casing while the rest of the meatstayed neatly studded inside. My first bite could only be described as eating an entire Thanksgiving ham dinner in one bite. The pork, bacon, mushroom, and onion separates in your mouth so you literally have 4 things going on inside your head. I like when that happens. And then there were these slightly acidic lentils that offset the richness of the meat perfectly. For me, this was my favorite sausage of the night…and one of my favorite sausages of all time.
As for the rest of the menu, I was certainly interested in trying some of the other classic offerings but, like I said, I had a train to catch.
On a funny note, on my way out of the restaurant I actually heard some idiot say to his bearded hipster friend… “yeah, that place is like a gastropub dude. Their menu is all sausagey and what not.” I thought to my self, “show some respect son”…
In closing, I’d like to suggest to management that they offer a sausage tasting menu. How about 3 sausages for $36? Or 5 for $50? It’s not about the money so much as it is the joy that I get from having an excuse to order multiple sausages and the subsequent game that insues when I have to narrow down the list of 14 to just 3 or 5.
Overall, I’d like to thank DBGB for elevating sausage to the level that they have. This establishment is absolutely the mecca for anyone serious about sausage consumption and I will return to tackle some more plates. And next time, I’m not leaving till I have a full-blown case of the “meat sweats”.
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