Thursday, July 21, 2011




Another Exclusive!!!

Bold Bite Dogs & Fries is open at 4901-B Fairmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda. Last Saturday night, I stopped by to try a hot dog. They have special late hours until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, which is very convenient for people who are out at the various nightspots around that part of town.

I have an exclusive video of my visit:

My first impression was that they have made good use of the space, formerly occupied by Ben & Jerry's. As you can see in the video, everything is clean and gleaming. The customer service is very good. When you first come in, there is one person who can answer all of your questions about the menu, how to order, etc. Then you move down to the left side of the counter and place your order.

The advice is helpful for the first-timer, as there are many options for your hot dog or sausage, fries and meal size.

You can order hot dogs "Built by Us," such as The Bold, The Bold BLT, The DC (a half-smoke chili dog - no more having to go into DC for those!), The New York and The Chicago.

Or build one yourself, by choosing the 100% organic Applegate beef hot dog, a half-smoke or Vienna Beef hot dog. Then choose a bun: steamed, steamed poppy seed, or "buttered and griddled" or even choose a French baguette instead.

You could top it with mustard and ketchup, or fancier sauces like Chesapeake (described as a spiced mayonnaise), house aioli or arugula pesto.

And those are the sort of ingredients that reflect the fact that this is not your typical street vendor hot dog cart. Everything is very high quality, from the hot dogs to what you add to them. You can also try the restaurant-quality salads and ice cream cookie sandwiches.

Despite the upscale food, you can still get free refills of your soda!

I'm a hot dog fanatic, so I've been looking forward to the opening of Bold Bite for some time. With the dozens of options and thousands of combinations available on the menu, though, I had to stick to my patented hot dog test: order the basic hot dog with ketchup and mustard. That way, the hot dog can't hide behind other flavors.

So I asked for the basic Applegate beef hot dog (although with the high quality, you really can't call anything on the menu "basic," other than the classic ketchup and mustard I ordered as toppings). The owners themselves, originally from Venezuela and veterans of top area restaurants, are in the restaurant. My order was ready fast, and it was also great to see Bold Bite's emphasis on cleanliness and food safety, from the gloves used by the chefs, to the separate hot and cold compartments behind the counter to keep everything going into your meal at the right temperature.

Finally, I tried the hot dog. It rated 5 stars (*****) for me. Fresh bun, and everything I like in a basic hot dog. My favorite store brand or ballpark hot dog is Esskay, and the Applegate beef dog has those same characteristics. Namely, plenty of real beef flavor, unlike some that aren't 100% beef. Spice that doesn't overwhelm or mask the beef. And tender, which is another reason Esskay is my gold standard. I'm not a really fan of Nathan's, for example, which tends to have that tougher casing, and too much garlic or onion or whatever the flavoring is.

So I didn't know what to expect, but this Bold Bite hot dog seemed like it was designed with people like me in mind.

Now there's a place right here in Bethesda where I can go and get a great hot dog any day of the week. No need to go out to Target or Camden Yards.

But I'm also looking forward to trying the many other hot dogs and sausages, as quite a number simply haven't been available in the DC area before. Usually I think of Mexican chorizo, but Bold Bite has an Argentine chorizo. The Merguez is a lamb and beef sausage. So stay tuned for future updates as I try others.

I also have to mention that you can get Old Bay seasoning on your Fries! And if you're concerned about artificial flavors or preservatives, the menu has a hot dog Smiley Face next to all items that are 100% organic and all-natural.

Which reminds me that another aspect of the restaurant that jumps out is the very creative and effective branding. You can see a lot of that in the video inside the restaurant. The logos and fonts are very high quality, the bags have a nice design, and there's a sense of humor also: the little sticker that seals your takeout box says, "Bite Me."

Help yourself to another branded item, very cool Bold Bite buttons in a variety of designs displayed in a candy jar as you go out the door. Pick up a very helpful takeout menu to plan your next visit. I hope to visit again myself very soon.

A great launch for Bold Bite, and a lot of potential at this location, where Blackfinn and its crowds are not only next door, but JBG has just announced plans to construct a building across Fairmont Avenue. That and The Monty on St. Elmo will be the initial catalysts for the transformation of "Old Town" Bethesda into something more like Bethesda Row. And Veterans Park is right there, as well. So this part of town is a really good long-term investment for anybody at this point.

Whether you've been searching for a classic, high-quality hot dog in Bethesda, or just never imagined you could order one with a White Truffle Whip on top, Bold Bite is the place to go!

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