For the uninitiated Rutt's Hut serves a hot dog called the "ripper" which is a Thurman's hot dog deep fried to the point were the skin literally rips open revealing the tender, succulent flesh inside. The dog itself is comprised of a 60% beef, 35% pork and 5% cereal mix which makes for a perfect sausage in my opinion. The relative sweetness of the pork lightens the palate compared to a pure beef frank. While I enjoy the latter grilled and boiled I think that for deep fat frying beef is too dark in character and would produce a rather bitter product.
Rutt's Hut has two dining areas, a bar room and a family friendly dining room with a walk up counter which is standing room only. An extensive menu features a plethora of comfort foods such as hamburgers, "barbecued" beef sandwich, fries and of course hot dogs. Be sure to try Rutt's secret mustard relish on the latter, it is simply delicious although I find that the dogs make for good eating naked, the grease from the cooking moistening the simple white bun.
The "barbecue" beef sandwich, presumably named for the cooking method, not the sour gravy that accompanies it, is best avoided. Aside from the slightly stale bun the gravy just did not seem right. The beef itself was also cooked a bit too much for my taste. There is a real timeless element to Rutt's Hut, the decor does not look like it has been changed in several decades and the menu makes zero concessions to any health fad or evidence of the implications of consuming trans fats and cholesterol laden food. This is pure unabashed comfort food.
The decor and the menu are not the only thing that hearken back to a by gone era, the price for a Miller High Life in a very frosted mug is only a $1.40! The tax alone would be more in NYC. Now I am an admitted snob when it comes to beer, having grown up in England but I have to concede that this Miller was so cold and refreshing that its relative lack of flavor and body was not an issue.
Rutts Hut is well worth the visit, it really is a piece of timeless Americana that you won't find replicated in a food court at a shopping mall.
417 River Road, Clifton NJ