Vendors at Pittsburgh International averaged 3 critical violations over the last two years vs. 14 when the Post-Gazette checked 4 years ago.
Munch knew there had to be a story and Munch loves a good story.
The subject was the Original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop. The reason the Station Street place had to have a story was that it is located on Broad Street in East Liberty.
The Original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop, 6290 Broad St., East Liberty. 412-365-2121.
Want to be a Friend of Munch? Visit Munch's MySpace page at myspace.com/munch_pg.
It does have a story. The restaurant was started on Station Street back in 1915 -- there's a great photo of the old place on the Web site from the '50s with cars with big fins parked out front.
It was moved in the '60s, when the townhouses across the street were built, taking up part of Station Street. And that would be the end of the story, except that the business closed 24 years ago. The building was vacant, like a missing tooth on Broad Street.
That was until the current owner experienced what his wife calls a mid-life crisis and rescued the building and the business. So, in the parlance of Pittsburgh, the Original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop is where the original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop used to be -- after it moved to Broad Street.
And what a great place it is. Three sides of the building are walls of windows with a counter along two of them where you can sit on a stool and look outside at either the parking lot (there's a paint store next door) or the railroad tracks and the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway. It's lovely this time of year.
Perhaps the best part of the view is looking at the entrance to Club One and watching all of the healthy, in-shape people walking out of the building after a work-out, while you are scarfing down a hot dog and fries. It was so tempting, as a thin woman wandered out in her spandex, to shout across the tracks to offer her a dog, but Munch munched on with Special Guest Friend of Munch, or some woman Munch happened to pick up at a bus stop -- which is exactly the wrong way to put that, but still fun.
It was a great lunch, spent chowing on dogs, chatting with a friend about days long gone. Munch ordered the all-beef hot dog with natural casing with ketchup, mustard and onions and made it a combo with fries and a cup of coffee for $5.50. Then Munch substituted onion rings for fries and it all got confusing.
Now, back a few years ago, the Post-Gazette had this photo editor who posted a sign that said, "The eye eats first." Munch was never tempted to eat a photo and thought maybe the guy should be in the restaurant industry.
Well, it seems that whoever put Munch's dog together saw the same sign. That was about the most beautifully presented hot dog Munch has ever seen. The ketchup was laid along the dog with the onions on the side of the bun and the mustard, yellow mustard, had been drizzled back and forth across the ketchup as if it was a fancy restaurant and this was a raspberry sauce drizzled over a dessert. It was so pretty sitting there on the paper. The eye was eating first. The mouth, however, quickly joined the party and the tummy was a happy camper.
Special Guest FOM got the kosher dog with stuff on it. Munch did not catch what she was having because of the thought of onion rings. Munch, around onion rings, is a bit like Homer Simpson around beer. Munch is still wondering, for instance, what became of the onion rings on the last episode of "The Sopranos." The screen went black. Did someone finish the rings?
The rings had a good thick batter and weren't at all chewy. Munch hates it when the onion is hard to bite through.
The fries were a real standout. As Special Guest FOM put it, they were crusty, which is not just different from crispy, it's way better.
The Original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop is also way better open than sitting closed and nearly forgotten on Broad Street.
The Original Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop, 6290 Broad St., East Liberty; 412-365-2121.