For several months, what used to be a small coffee shop in Soho called 'the Movie Cafe' was closed for renovation with a little sign in the window saying 'Olly Olson - Coming soon.'
So what or who was 'Olly Olson'? A designer clothing brand? Some trendy bar? You can imagine how happy I was when the shop finally opened and I discovered it was a food shop that sold... yes.. oh yes.. hot dogs!
Not just any hot dogs, mind. These were Scandanavian style, streetfood hot dogs. Now, it is actually an ambition of mine to go to Copenhagen one day to sample the hot dogs there. I actually have a newspaper clipping taken from the travel section of a Sunday newspaper many years ago, that describes the wonderful hot dogs that you can buy from street vendors. So not only was it great to see a new outlet in central London specialising in hot dogs, it was even better knowing that these were Scandanavian style hot dogs, like the ones I've been desperate to try for so many years!
OK so to begin, Olly Olson actually has 6 different types of hot dogs on the menu and I'm hoping to review them all. Actually the last time I visited there seemed to be 2 extra hot dogs added to the menu, but I will have to reconfirm that.
My first 'test sample' was a double whammy: the Swedis Korv (Swedish hot dog topped with mashed potato) and the Danish Polse (Danish red hot dog with fresh onions, crispy onions and mustard mayo).
First the Danish Polse: Unfortunatley my camera phone had a malfunction so I don't have a picture of this one. It was basically a soft, white bun with a bright red frankfurter in it. Underneath the sausage was a mustard mayo and on top was soft onion (boiled I think?) plus browned, crispy onion bits.
After my initial enthusiasm I have to admit I was a bit let down by this one. It's ALL onion! Everything else is totally overshadowed by the strong odour and taste of onion. Now with a nice cold beer and a summer's day, this might in fact have been perfect. But on a dull London lunchtime, with no booze available it didn't quite work. I guess that's what it comes down to - the context in which you eat your hot dog.
The bread though, was very nice. Fresh, soft and plump.
2.5 out of 5. Onion overload!
Next up, the Swedish Korv:
Now this was a better proposition. A pork sausage encased in the same, fluffy organic bread roll and a top coating of smooth mashed potato, finished off with a dainty criss-cross of mustard and ketchup. I made a hot dog with mashed potato on top when I was in Namibia but I had no idea that elsewhere in the world this was done as a matter of course.
Now this one worked. It was a hearty, comforting hot dog. Perhaps leaning more to stodginess rather than pure taste but it was certainly satisfying and all the flavours came through. This is a hefty dog that is more than a snack.
Olly Olson points out that it uses only organic ingredients and that came across in this hot dog. Everything tasted natural and unadulterated (although I'm not certain if the mustard and ketchup are also organic)
4 out of 5. Currently the first choice for a real hot dog in London in my opinion.
More Olly Olson hot dogs reviewed next time!