Friday, March 21, 2014

Isn’t 11:30 in the Morning….

a bit early for a hot dog? Obviously, it isn’t.

On the pull-out shelf under the computer, we keep a sheet where we list interesting looking restaurants that we have seen on TV located in cities we plan to visit. And there on the list was Frank Restaurant, near the intersection of 6th Street and Congress Avenue in Austin.
Just the place for a lunch break—regardless of the time. And when we walked in, there was a line and we would have a wait. At 11:30…for a hot dog!!!

Most of the diners were considerably younger than the two of us. (Want to feel old? Visit Austin.) And anyone of them could have written this from downtownaustinblog.org: “’Duuuuuuuuude, it’s a real sausage fest in here,' I joked to my buddy Zeke as we sat down at Frank…I’d describe it as a hot dog eatery and bar, except that it’s really more than that.
"There’s something in the vibe of Frank that’s very inviting and it’s a place you aren’t soon ready to leave once entering.

“I surveyed the layout of the place. The restaurant is expansive and airy, with ample ceiling height and a roomy dining area with several small tables that are perfect for 2-4 or that can be easily pulled together for larger parties.
"There’s a large, open bar area right at the entrance, a good place to grab a beer while looking out the big windows facing Colorado Street. Behind the dining area and upstairs, there’s even more space…
"There’s a lot of natural, polished and exposed wood on the walls, and the floors are a simple and dark concrete, which combined with the openness of the space, do much to add to the comfortable, but slightly masculine, atmosphere…”

“What really seals the deal here is that the food is just as awesome as the concept. About half of the artisan sausages are made in-house, the rest from nearby meat processor Hudson Sausage. The Jackalope is one of the most popular, but they also do all sorts of weekly specials…Along with the artisan sausage there's also a nice mix of classic and tastefully creative hot dogs. You can get a plain dog…or a Chicago dog with all the trimmings (including poppy seed bun). Or go for the Carolina Pork-It: bacon-wrapped, deep-fried and covered in horseradish cole slaw and…pimento cheese” (seriouseats.com).

It was our turn to be seated, and we were led upstairs to a balcony area that looked to be in a state of semi-construction.
It was devoid of ornamentation other than a wall plaque depicting a dachshund and containing the Frank name. We later learned that, with the exception of a Vienna Beef neon sign, the owners made a deliberate decision not to advertize anything other than their brand. Two of the owners are award-winning graphic designers.
And off in one corner was this—whatever—that bore the name of Rumsey & Siegmeier—whoever they are.
It took us awhile to make an ordering decision, since we wanted to order two dogs to split and share. The Artisan sausages included: the Jackalope—a smoked antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage with cranberry compote, sriracha aioli, and cheddar; the Texalina—a smoked pork and beef sausage with grilled horseradish coleslaw, Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, and white cheddar; and the one that I remembered from TV—THE NOTORIOUS P.I.G.—a custom-made smoked pork, bacon, jalapeno, sage sausage topped with mac n’ cheese and Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce.

But this latter, which I found interesting, was a bit too unconventional for Chuck. So we went to the list of “Daily Dogs” and selected the Chicago Dog and the Carolina Pork It.

First, I need to explain that Chuck and I are diametric opposites when it comes to hot dogs. He likes the softer and juicier variety like Ball Park Franks (“They Plump When You Cook ‘em”), which, according to health.com, are the unhealthiest all-beef franks leading the lineup in sodium, calories, and fat. I, on the other hand, prefer the firmer natural casing dogs like Vienna Beef.

“Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany immigrated from Vienna, Austria to Chicago in the 1890s. During the Columbian Exposition they sold hot dogs to the many visitors of the Exposition. In 1894, Reichel and Ladany opened a storefront on Halsted Avenue on Chicago's West Side. In 1900, Vienna Beef began to sell and deliver to other stores and restaurants in Chicago. During the Great Depression, a number of Vienna Beef vendors begin advertising that their hot dogs have a ‘salad on top,’ giving rise to the traditional Chicago-style hot dog” (wikipedia.org).

Well, both of our selections started with Vienna Beef hot dogs and Chuck didn’t seem to mind a bit. The Chicago Dog was authentic down to the neon green sweet relish and the small but mighty sport pepper.
“It’s unknown who first created this distinctive condiment (Ed. Note: the relish) or why, although Maurie and Flaurie Berman, owners of Superdawg in Norwood Park and Wheeling, where it’s still called ‘piccalilli,’ say they’ve served it since opening in 1949, and believe they first introduced it to the Chicago hot dog. ‘I can’t remember when we didn’t have it,’ Flaurie Berman says” (diningchicago.com).

The Carolina Pork It started with stuffing the Vienna Beef hot dog with cheese, wrapping it in bacon, and deep frying it. It was then dressed with grilled horseradish coleslaw and house-made pimento cheese.
It was like the marriage of Rutt’s Hut (“Rutt's Hut is a restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey, known for its style of deep-fried hot dogs. The process of frying causes the hot dog casings to crack and split, which has led to the nickname ‘Rippers’" [wikipedia.org].) and a Carolina slaw dog.

With our dogs we shared a basket of waffle fries—good, but I am just not a fan of waffle fries.
When we finished, I was still hungry. “What do you want to do?” I asked Chuck. “Order the chocolate covered bacon for dessert or share a Sonoran Dog?” It would be the Sonoran Dog that again started with a Vienna Beef hot dog that was stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and deep fried and dressed with caramelized onions, diced onions, diced tomato, pinto beans, jalapeno sauce, mayonnaise, and mustard.

And somewhere in the mix was a small amount of chili that elevated this Sonoran to new heights.
When we were finished, we had the chance to talk with Daniel Northcutt, who along with his wife Jenn, appeared in an ad for Google Chrome.
“Mediabistro.com calls it a ‘story of two married hipsters, hot dogs and Google.’ However you want to describe it, a new commercial featuring two co-owners of downtown Austin’s Frank restaurant and bar probably would be the envy of hot dog king Oscar Meyer… The 60-second ad is airing on national TV; a two-minute version is posted on YouTube. Another YouTube video shot at Frank promotes Google Places.

“Daniel Northcutt told Examiner.com that the TV commercial has garnered ‘great response from all over the nation’… In fact, Mediabistro.com said the spot appears to be ‘a better advertisement for Frank than it is for Chrome…’” (examiner.com).

And, would you believe that Jenn Northcutt is from our favorite city—Lafayette, LA?

Following our 4.5 Addie lunch (I am just not fond of waffle fries.), Chuck stopped to photograph the exterior of the building. At the far end, is a mural that is a part of Frank Public Art, “a rotating mural project…
"With the goal of promoting the local art scene, community and culture, Frank is inviting one artist per month to create within 48 hours their handcrafted art of choice—be it mural, street art or graffiti—on the massive brick canvas along Colorado Street. Frank’s public art project will be documented each month by a time-lapse video, which will capture the fabrication of each artist’s work. In celebration of each piece, Frank will host a mid-month party every month highlighting the presenting sponsor and featured artist, and serving up great gourmet dogs and groovy tunes. On the last day of each month, the art wall will be buffed in preparation for the next artist” (nowplayingaustin.com).

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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