Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Fairmont Edition: Yann's Hot Dog Stand
The infamous Yann's Hot Dogs has eluded me for oh so long. Yann, known as the hot dog nazi of the north, is only open when Yann feels like being open - thus, an impediment to my quest. He opens for lunch Tuesday through Friday and rarely on Saturdays. I called for about a month straight on Saturdays to no avail. I took a day off work mainly to come to Yann's, and other Fairmont restaurants fell into place. But this, folks, was the impetus for my Fairmont food tour day.
Yann's Hot Dogs are known for an incredibly spicy sauce (not chili) and for being served up by one cantankerous old man. Luckily, I had Joel with me to educate me on how to order.
After parking along the road at a meter, I recited my order as we walked up to the door. There's no slaw here. No ketchup. No relish. No cheese. No chili buns. You can't get extras. It's cash only. They reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. And they say not to be in a hurry.
Hotdogs come with mustard, onion and sauce. You also have an option of pepperoni roll with or without sauce. And there is white and chocolate milk. Get the chocolate milk for goodness sake.
So I say to myself, "one everything. with a chocolate. one everything. with a chocolate" as we walk up. Joel, who is a seasoned vet of the Fairmont delicacy (and a saint for showing me around all these places), says you can order sauce only, or sauce and mustard, or sauce and onion, but I figured the easiest is one with everything.
Yann's is tiny, and there's little signage. It's the small building across the bridge, and it has a steady flow of people. Inside, there are a few stools at the counter in front and to the left and at the back. But very small and very crowded.
Luckily, a nice lady was working the counter and as I raddled off my order, it seemed acceptable. I breathed a sigh of relief, paid and received my hotdog on a small paper plate. I braced for what I knew was going to be a painful spicy. One bite in and I got a nice crunch from fresh onions, a bready taste and then a hot, hot, hot sauce.
I mean, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to spice. I admit it. But I don't think anybody can say that these aren't spicy. They are. I devoured my chocolate milk and wish I had gotten two. For my single hotdog.
As far as the flavor, it's a hotdog. It's a plain weenie on a white bread bun with a hot sauce. It's a local thing, and the atmosphere is part of the experience. It's something folks have been doing for their whole lives, they know and love the shortness of Russell, and it's the experience. As far as the hotdogs, they're OK. But I prefer less pain with my meals.
Locals love this place - maybe for nostalgia, or maybe because they like having their mouths burnt off, I'm not sure. As cranky as the owner may be at times, there's never a shortage of customers. I don't see that changing any time soon.