I’d been drinking but as I sank my teeth into a late night bratwurst and stepped backwards from a Viennese sausage kiosk I was in heaven. Another step more and I really would have been. I hadn’t noticed the tracks and at that moment a tram rattled by, missing me by no more than the width of a bread bun.
For me it would certainly have been Goodnight Vienna.
I’m thinking of that moment now, on much safer territory, as I start eating a frankfurter from Rod’s Dogs ‘sandwicheria’ on Fulwood Road, Broomhill. I pass this place most Saturdays out shopping and have always meant to go in since it opened about a year ago. Now I have.
It’s already changed hands in that time (so Rod’s gone) and is now run by Chilean-born Jeannette Vilo, a very personable lady, and her son Pablo. They import their sausages fresh from Germany but the place is a take on an American diner.
I’ve been hooked on frankfurters (and bratwurst and currywurst) since I went to Vienna on a Press trip, armed with a copy of Graham Green’s Third Man. I read the book, rode the wooden Ferris wheel which features in the film, inhaled the smell of horse dung which pervades the Viennese summer and marvelled at the little kiosks, or wurstelstands, selling sausages on every street corner. I was fascinated by the spike which punches a hole in the roll in which to insert the sausage.
Sadly, the trip didn’t involve eating at one so I nipped out late at night on a one man sausage mission and nearly came a cropper. Interestingly, the Viennese call their sausages frankfurters. On a trip to Frankfurt I expected to see something similar but was disappointed.
Hot dogs are big in America – the term was coined over there – and are also very popular in South America, says Jeannette, bringing me my frankfurter with fries and soft drink, a £4.50 special. Down Latin America way they call them wieners.
Rod’s Dogs’ frankfurter is good in a quiet way, meaty and porky and juicy, but Jeannette later tells me, as restaurateurs have done so for the last 30 years, that I ordered the wrong thing. I should have gone for a Jumbo. I thought that was just a blown up frankfurter but apparently not. They also do beef filled frankfurters and bratwurst.
You can have all manner of toppings, German, American and South American-style, but my preference is for fried onions (which they don’t do, only onion rings), mustard and sauce. Jeannette tempted me into trying the homemade barbecue sauce, and I’m glad she did, because it’s like a very, very good, fruity brown sauce, rather like I make to Cary Brown’s recipe (see http://wp.me/p5wFIX-h ).
In fact, when she twigged who I was, I got to try all the sauces, from a perky pico de gallo through guacamole to a wicked jalapeno.
Sheffield is full of fast food joints, almost always dishing up food from the freezer or cash and carry but at Rod’s Dogs it is all their own work, apart from the chips, vegetarian sausages and bread from Roses. They make their own pulled pork, brisket and burgers and you’ve got to warm to a place which makes its own chicken nuggets for the kids, haven’t you?
If this is going to the dogs, give me more!
Jeannette seems proud of her little diner with its red booths and mirrored walls. I was delighted to learn she is the sister of city restaurateur Kito Valeria, currently at La Mama on Abbeydale Road, and that I would have met her when they opened the city’s first Latin American restaurant, La Parrillada, on Cumberland Street, almost 30 years ago.
“This may be fast food but it’s fresh food,” says Jeannette and I applaud her. I’ll be back to try a Jumbo and – mine was something of a fleeting visit – and to order some churros, which I’ve just noticed are on the menu.
Incidentally, if you are into German sausages and don’t fancy them out of a tin or jar, good as they can be, visit the little Austrian café Tiroler Stuberl in Water Street, Bakewell http://www.tirolerstuberl.co.uk which has an excellent range imported from Austria. And anyone interested in going to Vienna to taste a street corner wurstel should get a copy of Sheffield author Duncan J D Smith’s guide to the city Only in Vienna, available on Amazon and from http://www.duncanjdsmith.com
Rod’s Dogs is at 267 Fulwood Road, Sheffield, S10 3BD. Tel: 0114 268 7865. Web: http://www.rodsdogs.co.uk
STOP PRESS: Sadly Rod’s Dogs has now closed and gone to the great wurstelstand in the sky.