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We tried one of the top rated ‘restaurants’ in Kent

In the vast and culturally rich county of Kent it may surprise you to learn that one of its finest ‘restaurants’ comes in the form of a hot dog stall on Canterbury high street.

That is, according to Tripadvisor, at least.

The Gourmet Sausage & Burger Company is one of the top rated Kent restaurants according to Tripadvisor
The Gourmet Sausage & Burger Company is one of the top rated Kent restaurants according to Tripadvisor

Well it surprised me, so much so that I had to check it out for myself.

Surely a top eatery should serve proper meals; how good can a hot dog be, it’s barely a sandwich, right?

As I arrived at the Gourmet Sausage & Burger Company, as if in anticipation of my skepticism, a sign in bold yellow type boasts: “We are often told by customers that we serve the best burgers & hot dogs they have ever tasted.” Fair enough.

The one-man food stand is painted a classy maroon with a cream trim; Olde English type wraps the top perimeter.

Slush Puppy machines hypnotically rotate several colorful flavours, capturing the attention of passing children.

Just to the right of the service counter, dozens of hot dogs, burgers and fries are listed on a metre-long panel.

The stand has been on Canterbury high street for 15 years
The stand has been on Canterbury high street for 15 years

“What did you order?” I asked an American tourist in front of me in the queue.

“I got a foot-long bratwurst,” he replied.

“Oh, what’s that?”

A man wearing a white shirt, a black bow tie and a straw boater hat leaned across the counter to enlighten me. He would later introduce himself as Jeff.

“The bratwurst is with rosemary, and the frankfurter has a smoky bacon flavour,” I explained.

“All our German sausages are imported directly from Germany.

“We traveled all over Germany to find the best ones to use.”

I ordered a foot-long frankfurter with cheese, and a bottle of Coke Zero.

It was covered in ketchup and mustard
It was covered in ketchup and mustard

Served simply in a paper napkin, slices of American cheese were folded into a fluffy white bun which held the largest sausage I had ever seen, zig-zagged with ketchup and German mustard.

I immediately understood how this hot dog could, and should, be considered a proper meal. As I wandered off to find a quiet place to enjoy it, a man I passed, eyebrows raised, said: “Careful with that!”

I came upon a bench encircling a large maple tree and settled in for my first bite.

The sausage has a rich meaty flavour, smoky, peppery. There was nothing too special about the bun or the cheese, but the German mustard stood out.

My foot-long frankfurter was a filling and tasty treat
My foot-long frankfurter was a filling and tasty treat

The vendor had actually allowed me to try a sample of it beforehand – it’s more aromatic and not quite as sharply acidic as ‘normal’ yellow mustard, not as spicy as brown English mustard; a subtle fruitiness, perhaps.

It was a striking combination of flavours, but eight, nine inches deep I began to grow tired of it.

What kept my attention longer was actually the variety of textures.

The skin of the sausage was thicker than any I had tried before. The sausage filling was delicate and juicy and the cheese-covered bread provided a satisfying, chewy receptacle.

If Jeff was selling pints of ice-cold hefeweizen too, his top spot on Tripadvisor would be safe as houses.

A crowd gathered outside the stand
A crowd gathered outside the stand

I walked back over to say how much I enjoyed the hand-held meal but found Jeff had become busy as his line of customers was beginning to obstruct the bustle of the busy high street.

The straw-clad cook was dual-wielding a pair of blowtorches, melting the cheese on top of plates of fries.

Best not to interrupt, I thought.

I enjoyed my meal. I’d be keen to try a burger next time.

For what it is, the Gourmet Sausage & Burger Company is a fine establishment, but one of the best ‘restaurants’ in Kent, I’m not so sure.

And nor, I suspect, does it profess to be.

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Ratings out of five:

Food: ★ ★ ★ ★ – Tasty, with thoughtfully curated ingredients.

Drink: ★ ★ ★ – A Coke’s a Coke. Slush Puppy machines are a nice touch.

Decor: ★ ★ ★ ★ – On a fair summer day, Canterbury high street provides ambience as good as any restaurant, although there’s not a great deal of seating when it gets busy.

Staff: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Jeff is an all-in-one culinary class-act; friendly, informative and skilled

Price: ★ ★ – £10.40 for a hot dog and Coke, it seems a tad steep to me.

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