Frankly, I thought I'd be able to get a little further into my review of Frank, the new(ish) hot dog restaurant downtown, without resorting to puns. Oh well.
Before I launch into my brief discussion of bacon-infused this and huckleberry compote-drowned that, I want to alert you guys to an event coming up later this week that looks frankly awesome. (There, did it again.) In the interest of full FCC-style disclosure, I should tell you that I'm going to be going for free as a media person, but still - the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas is holding a party this Thursday (10/8) that will throw together more than 100 wines from around the world and 24 of Austin's best chefs. Sounds fun, right? If you go, find me. For tickets, go here.
Back to Frank!
We checked the place out on a Saturday early afternoon, when they were pretty empty. The booze list is inviting, so we picked out a couple of drinks gimmickily made with bacon-infused liquors.
Logan went more traditionally brunchy with the Red Headed Stranger, a bloody mary made with bacon infused local Dripping Springs vodka and Frank's bloody mary mix. The bacon did add a nice dimension to the spicy drink. The garnish ideas were fun, with a pepper, a jalapeno-stuffed olive, a cube of cheddar, and a long rasher of bacon. Unfortunately, as you might expect, sticking a big piece of bacon into an iced drink makes for cold wet bacon - not how I normally like it.
My Militia Manhattan was meh. When I ordered it, the waiter asked if I'd had it before; I told him no, and he warned me that the bacon flavor was strong and that I "probably wouldn't like it." Way to sell me, guy. The drink is made with bacon-infused Maker's Mark, sweet and dry vermouth, and lemon, and arrived without the touted "brandied cherry." I could barely taste the bacon in here at all, and when I asked about the brandied cherries, the waiter brought me run-of-the-mill bright red maraschinos. Eh.
We ordered kind of a ton of food - two of their sausages and an order of waffle fry poutine.
I've never had poutine before - it's a Québécois dish made with fries, cheese curds and gravy. This version seemed OK, though the cheese curds just read as clumps of melted cheese. I liked the gravy - it reminds me of that brown gravy you find on hot turkey sandwiches.
Logan ordered the Jackalope, which is antelope and rabbit sausage topped with huckleberry compote, sriracha aioli, and applewood smoked cheddar for $7.
He liked each of the components OK, but pronounced the finished product completely out of whack. There was WAY too much huckleberry compote - the condiment was a nice balance between tart and sweet, but the jammy texture was just overpowering in that amount. The cheese was super oily, as you can see in the picture, and didn't have much flavor, and the sriracha aioli contributed more to the gloopiness of the whole thing than it did either the aesthetics or the taste.
We both really liked the sausage itself, though - nice and gamey. Tone down the condiments, and this could be good.
I got the Texalina, with pork and beef sausage, grilled coleslaw, carolina mustard BBQ sauce, and white cheddar.
I preferred this one to Logan's, but I'm not sure what made the coleslaw grilled - I definitely didn't taste any smoky flavor in the cabbage. I'm a bit of a geek for carolina mustard bbq, since I went to college in its homeplace, Columbia, South Carolina, but the flavor there was absent as well. And again, there was too much low-quality cheese.
We somehow ended up with a free cappuccino, which was actually quite good. These guys have a killer espresso maker, and whoever was running it that Saturday afternoon knew what they were doing.
We were overall underwhelmed by this place, which has made a big splash in the local food scene. Their ideas seem solid, but at least on the day we were there, they were missing pretty far wide on their execution. I would definitely go back to try more of their drinks list, but I think I'd order more of their simple dogs before heading back to the fancy side of the menu. Until then, I should probably reserve final judgment.
Frank is located downtown at 4th and Colorado (in Starlite's old space) and is open late on the weekends. 512.494.6894.