Sunday, April 13, 2008
The many restaurants sprouting in the nouveau Culver City area, or as Delicious Life refers to as 'CuCi', give you the license to empty the wallet and fatten the waistline from low-priced food at Honey Kettle to higher-end food at the wonderful Fraîche. That's great, but I find myself at the lower end of the spectrum, scrapping away at quality places like Del Taco. I was driving around one time on my lunch break, spying out Sang Yoon's long-awaited project known as Father's Office, a much larger sister to the favorite Santa Monica spot. In the corner of my eye, I spotted out a hot dog stand in full operation, with a few people littered around on it. And then I remembered my friend telling me about her new culinary fad... a place called Let's Be Frank. Ah – this must be it. But what's so special about this hot dog?
How about a hot dog that is actually made from grass-fed beef, uses lamb casing, contains healthy stuff like 600 mg. of Omega-3 fatty acids which can lower the risk of coronary heart disease and are nitrate-free? When's the last time you thought about that while chomping on your $4 danger dog in a drunken state on the corner of Western and Pico Blvd? I certainly don't remember.
So I was sold – parked my horse and carriage in the lot and ran up to the modest red and yellow stand. One look at the 2-item menu, and I knew I had a slight crush. I love places with small menus, like Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada. I ordered one of each and stood back to watch Sue Moore, the owner, grill my $5 sausage.
Sue Moore brings her sausage-making skills down to Culver City from NorCal, where she worked as a meat forager for the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley... one of the first places in California to focus on seasonal ingredients and offers a different menu every single day. And Sue is one sweet lady. She made sure I got onions the way I liked them, super caramelized!
Let's Be Frank offers the simple yet substantial condiments for maximizing the sausage experience. In addition to the usual suspects, she offers her own homemade mustard, sweeeeeeet relish and sauerkraut. On this day, she had already run out of her pimiento de padron peppers. Boo.
The Brat Dog $5
I tried the bratwurst first and immediately tasted the essence of lamb on the sausage. Very nice. I never knew that lamb could be used for encasing the sausage and it really took the standard pork sausage to another level. While she was grilling the bratwurst, I asked Sue to grill it a little bit longer but told me that the lamb casing is more sensitive to heat and could possibly explode. Wouldn't be too fun. This was good.
The Frank Dog $5
But my favorite was the grass-fed beef. The beef definitely had a different taste due to being grass-fed, and again the lamb casing took this to another level: a slight aroma of lamb and some of the best 'snap' I've ever had. Every time I bit into this, the pieces came off like log bits. Excellent.
If Sue can set up her little cart till 7 or 8 pm, she'll definitely get a lot of customers waiting in line at Father's Office. You can't resist the smell of lamb and grilled onions. The prices are steeper than your usual Costco, Pink's or Danger Dog cart... but quality never goes unnoticed. You get what you pay for at Let's Be Frank. Next time I come, I'll be bringing my own Valentina hot sauce, mayonnaise and maybe some Maggi sauce.
No jokes about the 'happiness' level of the dogs please.
Let's Be Frank Dogs (Dogs Gone Good)
Washington/Helms Avenue @ Helms Bakery Complex
Culver City, CA 90232
Tuesday - Sunday 11 am - 3 pm???