a dogustation to remember
Disclaimer: After being seduced by the promise of a lifetime supply of hotdogs, I happily made co-owner Matthew John my bitch (definitely not the other way around). Nevertheless, I maintain that the dogs are delicious. Too many dog puns? Too bad.
Address: 320 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Phone: (03) 9419 5526
Open: midday until 11pm (until 3am Fridays and Saturdays)
I’m a sucker for a degustation and a die-hard hot dog fan, so you can imagine my excitement when co-owner of Phat Brats in Brunswick Street, Matt John, told me they were hosting a ‘dogustaton’. On a gloomy Tuesday evening, a group of industry folk and bloggers gathered in the warmth of Phat Brats, undeterred by the pelting rain and nearby chemical spill in Collingwood. Two fellas strummed guitars between mouthfuls of hot dogs, singing merry folk tunes and bopping through the crowd as if it was their own doggy music festival.
It wasn’t a fancy shmancy degustation, but a social, stand-up event where miniature versions of the dogs (dubbed ‘Little Brats’) were passed around on boards, paired with boutique beers from Southern Bay Brewery. We started off with crisp battered ‘corn pups’ on sticks, zigzagged with house tomato sauce and mustard. A smooth Requiem Pilsner was served to wash them down in time for the next course.
To follow was the 'Dog of the Month,' the beer soaked bratwurst with house BBQ sauce, pulled pork and appleslaw, matched with a very drinkable Southern Bay Draught.
My old favourite was next in line, the good ol’ lamb and rosemary sausage served with refreshing rawslaw, rich house gravy, smashed minted peas and feta cheese. It’s my go-to when I can’t decide what to order from the Phat Brats painfully tempting menu. The Southern Ocean Ale it was served with was my favourite beer of the evening — almost sweet with malt tones.
One of the vegetarian varieties, the Superfood dog, was whipped up as quickly as the lamb. A ‘sausage’ made from hand rolled quinoa, sweet potato and tamarind was wedged between a fluffy sweet bun and piled with minted green peas, chilli lime mayo, sour cream and alfalfa.
But the course that stole the show was the dessert dog: a hotdog sundae with a double chocolate ice cream ‘sausage’, sprinkled with toasted coconut and crushed pistachio nuts, squirted with berry coulis and topped with whipped cream. The bun was nothing less than a doughnut in the shape of a hot dog roll, courtesy of Big Lou’s next door. It was as novel as it was delicious. How delicious? Put it this way, I had two. They are not officially on the menu, but due to popular demand the dessert dog will be available soon. The heavy and hopsy Metal Head Robust Porter was the perfect accompaniment.
Just in case that wasn't enough, everyone who attended received a doggy bag with a beer, Phat Brats tomato sauce and a couple of free hot dog vouchers.
The dogustation was such a success that Phat Brats will be hosting more of the events in the coming months so the public can take part. Sign up to Agenda to be notified of when you can purchase tickets (You can also read some more of my writing there, should you wish #shamelessplug).
You could say I’ve had quite the love affair with Phat Brats since it opened. I still remember the first dog I had when Phat Brats opened in April, their famous Chilli Dog made with a wagyu beef sausage, topped with ground beef, house chilli sauce, the famous cheese sauce and spring onions. Definitely not first date food, unless you use that little bit of sauce in the corner of their mouth as an excuse to lean over and touch them. Trust me, it works.
More delicate is the Phat Brats Po Boy, a clean and modern take on the traditional southern sandwich with golden battered fish and spicy shrimp, loaded with shredded lettuce and aioli. It’s hard to order such a thing when everything else on the menu is a hot dog, but it’s worth branching out once in a while. Live a little and try it next time.
Other than that, the Brats boys recently added a new ‘Life Changing Fries’ menu, with five options to choose from. Each is a generous serve of moresome beer-battered, house-seasoned chips, served in a plastic basket with a couple of forks. Try the salsa fries with guacamole, shredded cheddar, sour cream and tomato salsa or the chilli fries with spicy ground beef (or beans for the vegos), sour cream, house chilli sauce and jalapenos.
If you’re on a health kick, you can take comfort knowing all ingredients are completely natural and sourced locally. The recipes are put together by co-owner Damian Thompson, who’s been a chef for nearly as long as Matt has been a vegetarian (no shit). If you’re worried about the sugary and mildly addictive bun, you can dig into a ‘naked dog’, any sausage served with one of four gourmet salads.
Phat Brats has been awaiting liquor licence approval from the finicky City of Yarra for over a month. But as soon as that beer starts-a-flowing, you’ll be able to do it doggy-style all night long.