Last week, I wrote about Bark Hot Dogs’ crispy pork sandwich as the Daily Meal‘s sandwich of the week. Now, I’ve decided to write a follow up piece featuring an interview with owner, Josh Sharkey, and a review of their new burger of the month (aka the Barkbecue Burger), fried brussel sprouts, and the famous gorilla shake.
If you imagine Bark Hot Dogs to be a “too cool” hipster hot dog joint in Brooklyn, think again. Owner, Josh Sharkey, had a different idea in mind when he decided to open his shop about three years ago. “I wanted to make good food that everybody can experience — not just people with deep pockets. There is also a fair amount of children in this neighborhood, so we wanted to make it kid friendly too,” he said.
Sharkey definitely followed through with his mission to make Bark Hot Dogs an affordable, friendly place. This little hot dog shop is full of young adults and smiling young families sitting at the wooden tables enjoying a burger, hotdog, shake, or the occasional beer. The atmosphere is welcoming and bright, leaving all customers to feel as if they are part of the neighborhood.
To make this the most interesting lunch possible, I decided to try the fried brussel sprouts (I usually don’t like them), the first burger of the month (the Barkbecue burger), and the gorilla shake.
The gorilla shake was creamy, thick, smooth, and strong. It did not taste like a regular coffee milkshake — it had more dimension. The middle was thick and the outside was just melted enough to drink easily through a straw. I expected the coffee to be bitter and the ice cream to add the sweentess, but that was not how the gorilla shake tasted. Instead of being bitter, it was sweet and smooth as it hit my tongue, while still maintaining a strong coffee taste.
Curious to know how this shake encompassed the flavor off coffee without the bitterness, I asked Sharkey about the preparation process. “It’s a triple strength cold brew,” he said referring to the long process of soaking ground coffee beans in cold water to get a sweeter, smoother result. “We then take gorilla coffee beans (which have a really dark roast) and whip that with our fior de latte gelato,” he said.
A few minutes after my shake came to the table, my brussel sprouts and burger were brought on a black tray. I must say that the brussel sprouts surprised me the most. Instead of being bitter and squishy, these brussel sprouts were crisp, light, and airy. The strong taste of the sprouts was evened out by their slightly charred exterior and the thick, creamy cheddar sauce. “In order to make sure the brussel sprouts aren’t too bitter, we make sure we cut the core out. When people say brussel sprouts are too bitter, they are usually eating the core,” Sharkey said. “Then they get fried, seasoned with salt and pepper, then we dress them with our smoked Graston cheddar sauce.”
The Barkbecue burger, the shop’s first of many more burgers of the month to come, was the final, delicious shabang of my lunch. This burger was an outrageously decadent treat. Smushed between the toasted potato roll rounds was a beef burger (cooked to medium), lettuce, bacon, fried onion rings, sweet and smoky barbecue sauce, and the creamy, white cheddar sauce. In one bite, this sandwich gives you all the smokiness, sweetness, meatiness, and cheesiness that you could ever need. The cheddar and barbecue sauce dripped all over my hands as my teeth bit down on the crunchy bacon, crispy onion rings, and the juicy beef. It was quite the mess, but so worth it. My taste buds have thanked me ever since.
Now, I have talked about all of this without even mentioning the crispy pork sandwich that made me a huge Bark Hot Dogs fan in the first place. The crispy pork sandwich is rich and zesty made with fatty pork that melts in your mouth. When you take a bite, the pork literally oozes out of its fried barrier and mixes with the tangy habañero slaw and bread and butter pickles on the toasted potato bun. But, I am not here to describe the party in my mouth (that’s what I did in my article for the Daily Meal). Now, I’ve decided to interview Josh Sharkey and give you guys the scoop on the crispy pork sandwich itself and the up and coming Park Slope barbecue joint.
SB: What is the overall mission of Bark Hot Dogs?
JS: Our mission is to approach American fast food mindfully and with integrity. We only use the best ingredients and products we can find and we treat them with care and respect.
SB: What inspired you to open Bark Hot Dogs?
JS: I was fine dining my whole life and I wanted to make good food that everybody can experience — not just people with deep pockets
SB: Why did you pick to open your shop in this neighborhood?
JS: This is a growing neighborhood, this is an affluent neighborhood. I think our first store needed to be somewhere where people were mindful of what they are eating. There is also a fair amount of children in this neighborhood, so we wanted to make it kid friendly too.
SB: Where do you get your pork, beef, and vegetables?
JS: The pork in the crispy pork sandwich is a Berkshire Heritage breed pig and we get our beef from two places: Wrighteous Organics and Meyers Natural Angus. We get our vegetables from nearby, I would rather have something that tastes good from close by.
SB: So what makes the crispy pork sandwich so crispy?
JS: If it isn’t breaded properly, it can become greasy and soggy. So, we use a standard breading, then we double bread to ensure it is as crispy as possible and also to ensure that as we deep fry it, the oil from the frying does not penetrate deeply into the meat.
SB: Why did you choose the pork shoulder and belly instead of another part of the pig for the crispy pork sandwich?
JS: I would describe the crispy pork sandwich as Bark’s somewhat indulgent expression of pure pork. It is in its simplest form, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little white wine. I chose the belly and shoulder because the belly has the fat content and heavier pork flavor, and the shoulder is really the best medium for body in sausage — it has just the right amount of meat to fat ratio and it is not too overpowering. In the sandwich, the ratio is much more shoulder than belly.
SB: Why did you decide to top the pork sandwich with Habañero slaw?
JS: The crispy pork patty is so rich and meaty, it really needs something with some acid and bite/heat to cut through all the fat and meatiness. Cabbage is a really great foil to pork, so the slaw made perfect sense.
SB: Crispy pork sandwich aside, what is your favorite item on the menu?
JS: Honestly, it is the burger of the month (Barkbecue Burger) and the gorilla shake. It changes a lot, but I also really like the crispy pork sandwich as well. ♦♦
One thing I forgot to tell you guys before, is that after my lunch, I ended up coming back to Bark Hot Dogs for dinner to enjoy the crispy pork sandwich again. Being a student who lives in Manhattan, I didn’t think I would ever have time to make the “commute” (20 minute subway ride) to Park Slope, but trust me, you will make the time and thank me that you did. Check out this Bark Hot Dogs slideshow to make yourself drool a little.
Warm, friendly atmosphere
Food made in a timely manner
Decent amount of seating, depends on the time you come
Good place to have a drink at night