Wednesday, February 25, 2009


30-32. PDT
113 St. Marks Place between 1st and A

Crif Dogs is a small hot dog and burger shop that offers a unique assortment of deep-fried hot dogs topped with anything from bacon to guacamole to cream cheese. Though the food is enough of an appeal, what is offered inside of a telephone booth in the restaurant brings an entirely different clientele. Pushing open the telephone booth door there is a telephone receiver and a buzzer. After giving the buzzer a ring, the back wall of the telephone booth opens up, we are greeted by a hostess, and having made a reservation we were taken to our table. Welcome to PDT (Please Don’t Tell).

The name is a misnomer by now, as the sheer difficulty of obtaining a reservation is indication enough that people know about PDT. Reservations are taken on a same-day basis only starting at 3pm and after receiving a busy signal from 3:00-3:05 I finally got through only to be notified that I could get a table at 8:00pm (but not 8:30 or 9:00).

The four of us sat down at one of the four leather booths available. Reservations are taken for the tables, but walk-ins are welcome to sit at the bar with about 15 seats. If there are no seats, no one is allowed in, though the hostess will be happy to take down your cell phone and call you when a table opens up. The fact that everyone has a seat and there aren’t too many people means that it’s not noisy, private conversation is encouraged and one can just relax and have a couple drinks without being bumped into or yelling over music. We were presented with the cocktail and food menu which lists a number of specialty cocktails. The full order for four of us came to the Diamondback, a Dirty Martini, the LES Globetrotter, a Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold beer, a Wylie hot dog, a Chang hot dog and tater tots. First, the drinks.

The TONY list recommended the Diamondback (no longer listed as a special but the bartender had the necessary ingredients to make it) and a Dirty Martini. The Diamondback is made with whiskey, apple brandy and chartreuse. Though the alcohol certainly had a strong bite and it was certainly an enjoyable cocktail, it’s probably not something I would order again given the number of other cocktail choices available. PDT certainly makes a nice dirty vodka martini. There was still a vodka taste but it was smooth, went down easy, and the olive taste wasn’t overwhelming. The LES Globetrotter, recommended by our waitress and made with whiskey and orange peel may have been my favorite drink of the night. The drinks are strong, unique, and for $13, pretty comparable in price to cocktails at most other nice bars and lounges. There is an extensive list of specialty cocktails including one with bacon-infused vodka which I may have to come back to try. Captain Lawrence is a brewery in Westchester County, NY and the Liquid Gold pilsner is a safe bet. For $5, the beers are much less expensive than the cocktails, but the glass is only a ½ pint.

PDT is the only place on the TONY list to be blessed with three items. After the Diamondback and the martini, we moved on to the hot dogs ($5 each). The Wylie dog, designed by molecular gastronomist and chef/owner of WD-50 Wylie Dufresne, is made with a deep-fried hot dog, a stick of deep-fried mayonnaise, tomato molasses, and topped with shredded lettuce. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise and was fairly skeptical about this creation, but after the first bite I was hooked. The hot dog and tomato provide the flavor, the mayo gives it some creaminess and the lettuce adds the crunch. What’s not to like? After splitting the first one, we had to order another. The Chang dog, designed by David Chang, chef/owner of the Momofuku empire, is a deep-fried hot dog, wrapped with bacon and topped with kimchi. I’m not sure how well kimchi works on a hot dog, but the bacon-wrapped deep-fried hot dog part was evidence enough that I should return to Crif Dogs to order one with bacon more often. The tater tots for $4 were probably the biggest steal of the night and I would certainly recommend it to all groups at PDT who want something to snack on. The generous portion was crispy, hot and left us wondering if they were homemade.

Four drinks, three dogs, and one order of tots for $77 including tip doesn’t make PDT part of anyone’s cheap list, but to be able to have a table waiting, hang out with some friends (or a date) over a couple of specialty cocktails and try a new hotdog creation, it’s certainly worth calling at 3pm and trying to get a reservation.

1 comment:

  1. Should you return, I would recommend you branch out from dirty vodka kangaroos and pilsners, and opt for something you cant find anywhere else. This is the kind of place where you want to forget your old standbys and ask your barkeep for a recommendation.