By David Minsky
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By Bill Wisser
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Boring old hot dog mustard, relish, maybe a little chopped onion.
Trendy new haute dog wasabi mayo, banana chips, avocado.
That's the idea behind Franktitude, a way-slick eatery that appears intent on doing to the wiener what eateries like Lindburger and Oneburger have done to the hamburger, essentially ladling a thin gruel of haute over the humble protein and selling it not quite as cheaply as one might expect.
21 NW Miami Court
Miami, FL 33128
2189 NE 163rd St.
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
Region: North Dade
The catch is that the hamburger is an American icon George Washington, Ronald McDonald, and Paris Hilton on a sesame-seed bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, and "secret sauce." The hot dog, on the other hand, is generally seen as a somewhat sketchy food product cobbled together from the bits, parts, and stray pieces of things it's probably best not to think too much about.
But that's another story.
The story of Franktitude is what might be called the "gourmetification" of fast food and the increasing fractionalization of that segment of the restaurant marketplace. Just within the past few months, we've seen the debut (or scheduled debut) of eateries specializing in tacos, crêpes, burgers, quesadillas, and knishes. And Franktitude is nothing if not optimistic four more outlets are "coming soon" in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to the company Website.
In keeping with its menu of swanky franks (yes, there is a dog with banana chips and tomato, avocado and wasabi mayo), Franktitude affects the stylish minimalism of any too-cool cafe on the Beach. Although its neighborhood across the street from the county courthouse in downtown Miami can best be described as "crummy," Franktitude is as fresh and clean and snappy as a newly minted dollar bill.
Speaking of dollar bills, it takes quite a few to plug up an appetite here. All but two dogs cost $3.49 each; add another three bucks for a soda and choice of one side (big, limp sweet potato fries; thin, limp French fries; "buttery" corn on the cob; and coleslaw that tasted as if it were pumped out of an industrial-size vat). That's not a lot of food, and much of it is starch. Add a second wiener and you're at the price of a thick, juicy burger at a real restaurant or two slices of hearty designer pizza.
All right, but what about those wieners? Well, they come in beef, chicken, salmon, or tofu and are heated on one of those roller contraptions instead of grilled or griddled, which would caramelize the skins and give the dogs a little pop. The beef is decent, with passably meaty flavor. Chicken tastes almost as meaty as the beef. Salmon is okay, with a faint seafood flavor but not fishy. Tofu is mushy, vegetal, and just plain weird; the number of tofus that died in making this dog of a dog is something PETA ought to investigate right away.
Toppings also range from decent to weird. In fact there is a "Weird Frank," with hummus, tomato, cucumber, and olives (don't ask). Better versions are the "Robust" (tomato, olives, pickles, and tangy horseradish sauce); "Cheesy" (chili, chopped onion, cheese, and tomato); "Completo" (avocado, tomato, sauerkraut, and cheese); and "Salmon" (tomato, tartar sauce, onions, and sesame seeds). Why avocado with sauerkraut, or cheese and sesame seeds with salmon and tartar sauce? Don't ask that one either.
But none of that is really the problem. The problem is Franktitude's dogs just aren't tasty enough, their preparation good enough, their toppings inventive and generous enough, to really add up to a seriously delicious haute dog.