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Let's Do Lunch! at Primo's

13 July 2015
Let's Do Lunch! at Primo's
This review is inspired by my hero when it comes to critics. A.A.Gill is the restaurant and T.V. critic for the Sunday Times: how bad a job can that be? He recently reviewed a hot dog restaurant in Soho called Top Dog which he was not very impressed by. At the end of each week’s review there are always short notes on three establishments serving a similar style of food in other parts of the country. At the end of this particular article was a mention of Primo’s which was described as ‘an institution in Leeds’. As it has been suggested on several occasions in the past that I should spend some time in an institution this seemed like the ideal opportunity.

Primo's Article hotdog

The venerable Mr Gill pointed out that hot dogs are working class cheap and cheerful food which should be confined to football games, street vendors and the seaside. On this last point he mentioned Nathan’s by the Boardwalk on Coney Island which is also the home of the World Hot Dog Eating Competition. This is held on 4th July each year and the object is to down as many hot dogs, including buns, as possible in the space of 10 minutes. The record was set in 2013 by a chap called Joey Chestnut who managed 69. Yes, 69. I am sure that his table manners were impeccable. I have had the experience of sampling a hot dog at Nathan’s on Coney Island and I have to say that it was truly awful. No, that is not correct. Strictly speaking something with absolutely no taste at all cannot be described as awful. It is no wonder that they eat them as quickly as possible; they are not to be savoured.

Fortunately Primo’s leaves Nathan’s miles back in its dust. Although the dogs are given American names such as Spanish Harlem, The Pittsburgh and the Philly, the sausage, the one I went for, The Confederate, was much more European. It was described on the menu as ‘Large Beef Dog topped with Jack Daniels, Honey, House Onions, Sweet cure Bacon, topped with Spicy Mustard. Served in a straight white.’ I took advantage of the meal deal and had fries and a coffee as well for £7.75. The idea is that you order at the counter and are given a number, then the meal is delivered to your table. The straight white turned out to be a run of the mill hot dog bun, not very flavoursome, but its job is to enable you to eat its contents and it served this purpose adequately. I would suggest, however, that you use a knife to cut bite size pieces as when I lifted the whole bun to my mouth the topping slid off onto the tray! How sophisticated. As you can see from the photographs the constituent parts of the topping were quite finely chopped which meant that I got the full range of flavours in every bite once I had taken care of the sausage overhangs on each end of the bun. As previously stated, the sausage was made from beef and was nice and spicy. Unlike Nathan’s it didn’t need the help of a topping to give it taste. The topping was a real bonus: the onions were sweet, as was the hint of the honey, and the mustard gave it the complementary heat and a touch of bitterness. The fries came unseasoned and benefited from a sprinkle of salt and a liberal squirt of ketchup.

In conclusion, I would recommend Primo’s for lunch. In fact, if I had known what a Leeds institution was like I would have had myself committed years ago.

Mange toutes,

Stan Graham

Stan is a freelance food journalist who writes 'Let's do Lunch!' restaurant reviews for Leeds Living's eat/drink section.