Editors' pick

Bold Bite

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

By - Catherine Zuckerman

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011

Marcel Proust had his madeleines. For Alonso Roche, childhood memories are triggered by a less delicate food: hot dogs. "Every time I have that first bite," he says, "it takes me right back to the streets of Venezuela."

Specifically, he's referring to the Bold ($3.99), one of a handful of dogs on offer at Bold Bite, the mod 30-seat restaurant he opened in July with his brother, Alvaro. Topped with onions, shredded cabbage, crisped potato sticks, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard, it's a tribute to the late-night snack of his youth in Caracas. Midwesterners might feel similarly nostalgic about the Chicago ($3.99). The Vienna beef dog, tucked in a steamed poppy-seed bun, is piled with onions, green relish, a pickle spear and small, green sport peppers, all dusted liberally with celery salt.

Work brought both brothers from Venezuela to the United States. Alvaro focused on retail; Alonso spent several years as a television producer in Miami, then moved to Washington in 2000 to start a television graphics company with Alvaro. The business fizzled, which led Alonso to pursue cooking, his true passion. After graduating from L'Academie de Cuisine in 2003, he cooked locally at Persimmon in Bethesda and Willow in Ballston, and not-solocally in Madrid. Bold Bite is the result of the brothers' decision to combine their talents and have some fun.

Wine, beer on tap and late-night weekend hours (when the scene is really hopping, Alonso says) factor into that formula. So do sausage dogs, which come in several varieties. Listed as Show Dogs on the menu, they are made by Simply Sausage in Landover, griddled to order and planted inside toasted baguettes from Lyon Bakery.

The bratwurst ($6.50) is fat and juicy, its richness tamed by candy-sweet caramelized onions. The merguez is lacking in lamb flavor, but its tasty accessories make it hard to fault: ripe tomato, cucumber, feta and crunchy pita strips ($6.90). The Argentine chorizo is succulent, mildly spiced and snappy in its pork casing, even after 30 minutes of wrapped-up travel time. I tried it atop the Latin salad (one of four salads on the menu), a mix of romaine, corn, avocado and more, dressed with a balanced cilantro-lime vinaigrette ($10.90; without sausage, $6.99).

Feeding a crowd? The Samplers have you covered ($20 for five dogs, $30 for five sausage dogs). Belgian-style fries, cut fresh daily, are worth the extra calories ($1.99 to $4.50). Like the dogs, they can be embellished with a selection of house-made, mayonnaise-based sauces (no charge), cream-enhanced "whips," ($1 to $2), or vegetables, chopped herbs and premium toppings such as blue cheese and chili ($1 to $2).

Still hungry? For dessert, there are ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies ($3), just in case your childhood hasn't quite come back into view.