"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
— Frank Zappa
I originally blogged about Frank back in late July, on my first visit to what was then a relatively new restaurant. For one reason or another, I never made it back there, although I really loved everything about the place (why, oh why don't I still have an office downtown?!?).
Yesterday, I finally had an excuse to pay them another visit - they hosted the kickoff party for Launch 787's new FLAVORS of Austin series. What's FLAVORS of Austin, you ask? Well, Monday through Wednesday of each week for 52 weeks, one featured restaurant will offer a discounted, exclusive, multi-course menu for FLAVORS diners. It's like having Austin Restaurant Week all year long! Best of all, a portion of every dollar spent at a participating FLAVORS of Austin restaurant will be donated to the Sustainable Food Center of Austin.
At any rate, Frank has upped the ante since my last visit; they've just added a brand new coffee shop serving Intelligentsia coffee and a little store that offers locally-focused sausage, nostalgic candy, funky gifts, and other goodies TBD (they're accepting requests if there is something special you'd like them to carry). They're also serving breakfast items and are on the verge of rolling out a Sunday brunch, as well.
We got to taste a nice sampling of what Frank has to offer at the kickoff party. Although I didn't save you any, I did take some photos for you.
First up: cocktails. Frank has a pretty unique cocktail menu, featuring several original creations as well as a few classics with a Frank-esque spin. I tried two different cocktails, the Red Headed Stranger (Frank's version of a bloody Mary - house-made, bacon-infused Dripping Springs vodka mixed with Frank's ultra-spicy bloody Mary mix and garnished with a big slab of bacon, a pepperocini, an olive, and a chunk of cheddar cheese). I know this sounds a little unconventional, and perhaps even slightly unbelievable, so I offer you proof:
It's a meal in a glass, baby. Check out the half pepper/half salt rim.
Oh, and did I mention the big slab of bacon?
By the time I was ready for my second cocktail, I wanted something a little lighter, so I tried the Daytripper: fresh watermelon juice, St. Germain, Tito's vodka, and mint, garnished with a big chunk of watermelon. Soooo refreshing.
My kind of day trip. I could've done without the
salt/pepper rim on this one, though. Maybe a sugar rim?
Now, the food. Oh, the food! The good folks at Frank were very generous about giving us a good cross-sample of the menu to taste. We tried two of their new breakfast bierocks (an Eastern European filled pastry), the chorizo, potato & cheese:
And the Elvis (peanut butter, banana, and bacon). This sounds ridiculously gross (and doesn't look all that pretty, either), but it had my number. Seriously, I LOVED it - it was hot out of the oven and the peanut butter was just all melty and smooth and just oozed yummily in your mouth with the banana and bacon. I can see why Elvis' gyrating ways weren't enough to keep him super slim if he was eating this decadently on a regular basis.
This Elvis may well inspire women to throw their panties.
Also on the breakfast menu: beignets! Not quite Cafe du Monde, but delicious.
Moving on to Frank's specialty - hot dogs and sausage - the latter of which is made in-house on a daily basis.
Of course, no Frank tasting would be complete without a classic Chicago dog. I was so pleased to see that my beef (insert knee slapping here) from my previous visit about how they were building the dogs all wrong has been remedied - the pickles, tomato and sport peppers were wedged very nicely between the dog and the bun. Perfect.
We also sampled the Italian sausage, served with fennel mustard salad and aged provolone and topped with balsamic barbecue sauce:
The jalapeno venison sausage, served with butterkase cheese and bluberry coulis:
The crawfish & pork sausage, topped with cajun tartar sauce and lappi cheese:
And the Foie Gras - sausage made from foie gras, paired with pickled onions and an orange slice:
As if that weren't enough, we also savored some Gator Boudin fritters, dressed with a bit of hatch remoulade:
I don't know where I put all that food, but I feel sure I'm going to pay for that at some point.
I'm hard-pressed to pick favorites; I think it would all depend on my mood on any given day. But I really don't think you can go wrong, no matter which sausage you choose (there's a life lesson in there somewhere).
I even got to chat a bit with one of Frank's co-owners, Daniel Northcutt, and was so impressed with his passion for the food and for the unique adventure that he and his co-conspirators are creating. I'm sure Frank Zappa would have agreed that their unconventional approach to food is progress, indeed.
Frank's FLAVORS of Austin menu features a flight of FIVE mini-dogs/sausages for the ridiculously low price of $12. The promotion ends this Wednesday, September 30th, so hurry in! But in the event that you must miss it, Frank's great grub is very reasonably priced all the time.