I say "Go there now" because I have a disturbing feeling they may not be there next year; because of their out-of-the way location (even given that they're next door to the Miss Bellows Falls Diner), and also from the fact that the place was empty when we were there and the business is for sale.
(The cook told us that it was for sale because the owner is a 'serial start-up guy' who has concepts, opens restaurants with those concepts, then sells them and goes on to the next idea.)
Fat Franks is a terrific idea, it seems to me, and one that would readily be successful as a franchise operation, in the right locations. I really, REALLY hope this place stays in business, and even expands. I wouldn't mind having one in the town where I live.
Anyway, it's a burger-and-dog place, and their "hook" is the quality of their food. They don't make their own dogs (They use Boston Smokehouse), but they steam, then grill them, and do so perfectly. They have an excellent range of condiments, including numerous varieties of Maine-made mustards.
I had a cheese dog with kraut, dressed it with mustard and relish, and wished I had stomach space for another. (And hey, you Chicago-style dog folks, they DO have pickles and celery salt on the condiment bar.)
Mrs R tried the chili, and as soon as I tasted it, I swiped half of the cup and put it on my dog. It's the beanless type and fairly spicy, but the cool part is that it's never the same. When they make their chili, they use whatever leftover meat they have, whether it's beef, lamb, kielbasa, andouille sausage, or whatever. So the spice mix stays the same, but the meat mix can vary from day to day. Oh, yes. We HAD to buy more chili to take home.
Then the cook talked us into buying some fries - which, he said, is their #1-selling item. It took only one bite for us to understand why. They use only Highland Gold potatoes from Price Edward Island, and fry them twice (of course). They're a medium cut in size, with the peels on. If I lived near Bellows Falls, I'd eat them ate least once a day, and I'm not that much of a French Fry Fan. They really ARE that good.
To sum up: Sometimes one visit to a restaurant is enough to tell you that you HAVE to go back. We're going to be back up in that area in a couple of weeks, and we'll do whatever it takes to get to Fat Franks and explore the rest of their menu. And we'll hope that they'll still be there next summer.
Disclaimer: I have NO relationship with this restaurant, except as a happy (and full) customer.
92 Rockingham St. (Us Route 5)
Bellows Falls, Vt
802-463-4388 (Call before you go, because they have a bad habit of changing their hours frequently.)
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