Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nathan's: Gourmet Fast Food At a Garden State Parkway Rest Stop

Yesterday we drove round trip to take my son and his friend to the camp in New Hampshire that he is working at for the summer. We got to New Jersey and the beginning of the Garden State Parkway just in time for the Friday night shore traffic.

Since our ninety mile trip on the parkway would probably take us two and a half hours or more with the traffic we decided to stop for dinner at the northern most Garden State Parkway rest stop. For those of you whose roads don't have such things, let me explain that New Jersey toll roads have these rest stop that include bathroom facilities, a store, recent immigrant guys selling sun glasses from kiosks, ATM machines and food courts.

The two nicest rest stops are the Montvale rest stop at mile post 171 and the Cheesquake rest stop at miles post 123. We stopped at the Montvale rest stop and were interested primarily in the food court. I decided to get supper from Nathan's.

Nathan's is that famous hot dog stand in Coney Island where the world famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating contest is held. Of course through the magic of franchising and branding there are Nathan's places in malls, rest stops and many other places. You can also buy Nathan's hot dogs and condiments in many grocery stores. New Yorkers and New Jerseyites take their hot dogs very seriously. (I have blogged about the wiener wars going on in the town that I grew up in. You can read about it here.) What makes the dogs around here great is that they are usually all beef and they always have a natural casing that splits when you cook them and snaps when you bite into them. Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs are one of the best examples of the high quality New York metro dog.

What gets me really excited about eating at Nathan's though, are their fries. Being the carbo king that I am, of course I have an opinion about Nathan's fries. I am inclined to agree with those that claim that Nathan's fries are some of the best in the business. Nathan's fries are pretty unique. They are made from fresh potatoes and they are "krinkle cut" into thick chunks of starchy goodness. I have a theory that the really great road food places like Nathan's have a "starter fat" that is kind of like a sour dough starter from the original oil fat that is passed around to the company's expanding universe, because all fries from Nathan's share a uniquely delicious Nathan's flavor. You can have your fries with cheese sauce or with chili sauce, but being the boardwalk prowler that I am, I have mine with malt vinegar and ketchup.

Next time you are riding on the Garden State Parkway stop at one of the Nathan's in a rest stop for some delicious Garden State Parkway gourmet fast food.


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