Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
The hot dog is one of the true greats of the fast food world. I am not referring here to the sorry, soggy, members (made of gawd knows what) that you get at the cinema (how to make a dog shit – who buys them?) that are an abomination, but rather to the proper ones made with top quality ingredients. I mean who doesn’t love a good dog.
Easy to eat without cutlery (cutlery should never, I repeat never, be used to eat a hot dog – if you do you are just plain weird) and on the run (subject to not too much topping overload), a hot dog is perfect for filling that lunch hole when you haven’t got much time to spare.
To me the top dog is one that keeps it (relatively) simple. A quality frank (a good snap being essential), a top notch bun (together they are the dog’s …….) and then a condiment (usually French’s mustard for me), raw onions or kraut (a New York style dog, I believe) is all that is needed to make me a happy snapper.
I am not adverse to a chilli (coney) dog or cheese in the mix (love a kasekrainer from many trips to Vienna, where the wurst is the best), but my stomach nearly always yearns a dog where the frank itself is the star of the show. When it is a simple dog there is nowhere to hide – it lives or dies on the quality of the frank.
This brings me to the newest food stall in Cardiff’s central market in the form of Franks (very much a case of it does what it says on the tin), which has slotted into the hole (I still mourn) left by the departure of the Cheese Pantry.
It is from the people who have brought to Cardiff glorious, seafood based, fast food through Two Anchors.
Franks, therefore, has some pedigree (always good when it come to dogs) such that you can be pretty well assured that the ingredients and attention to detail will be spot on.
Well its dogs dogs dogs and dogs – a veritable pack of them.
You can go naked or dress your dog up to the nines and go all in on the toppings (if you go for the latter I think that would be an £7 frankenweiner)
The franks are made, from Gloucester old spot outdoor reared pork (a blend of shoulder and belly I suspect), with natural casing all lightly smoked over apple wood (just a touch in there), by Gridiron Meat Co. – a Yorkshire based operation – and by eck are they good.
I hear tell the veggie ones (tofu I believe) are good too, but they are not for me. A veggie dog does sound rather counterintuitive to me – my dogs would be absolutely horrified at this propect.
Back to the matter at hand, the buns (equally good, especially with the nice light toasting given to them on the griddle) are from very well regarded local bakers Friends in Knead. Who needs friends when you are a master baker? 😁
On my first visit I went for the free toppings (because I like a dog not too adorned and, mainly, because I am a tight git).
To the basic frank and bun (a rather nice, not too sweet, brioche number), I added raw onion and kraut (love the sharpness and crunch of both as a contrast to the smooth – on the inside – frank and soft bun). To that I initially asked for mustard (French’s of course) to be added, but then changed my mind when I quizzed them about the make up of the house sauce (an “everyone’s in the pool” mongrel mix of mustard, ketchup, mayo and blended gherkins, kraut, onions and jalapenos – at least I think that was it).
All made for a very nice combo of meaty dog, yielding bun and crisp toppings. The house sauce added the “cherry on the cake” finishing touch. Lots of flavours, but in a way that still allowing the pure porkiness of the frank to shine through.
On a second trip (next day if truth be told), I decided to go full on filthy and added cheese sauce, raw onions gherkins, jalapenos and mustard to my dog (making it £5.50).
A rather handsome beast I think and a bloody tasty one too.
Don’t forget to pick up a napkin (or 3) as the cheese sauce is bountiful and very gooey (it will infiltrate a beard big time).
On a third trip (in their first week) I kept it very simple and old school with just the frank, raw onion and mustard in the bun
I thought this basic (NYC) iteration really let the flavour of the frank shine through.
On the drinks front, it is nice to see them offering something different from the usual soda suspects,
with the likes of Supermalt (like bottled Guinness, without the alcohol, apparently), Cocio chocolate milk, Miranda (a strawberry flavour drink from Spain), Ben Shaw’s bitter shandy and Ting. A root beer could, perhaps, be added to that lot for dog authenticity.
I went for the Ben Shaw bitter shandy – got to be a beer (ish) with a dog.
Nicely priced at a quid, it rather took me back to my youth, It was Top Deck in my day and neck of the wood.
A dog is perfect lunch time fodder and Franks being located in the market is great as I can do my meat, fish and veg. shopping and then have a dog for lunch. Nice to be able to keep it all local.
The dogs at Franks are the business, with great base ingredients and plenty of pimping up options. I also think the price is very fair based on the quality. Compared to the prices at the subject of past week’s post, Eggslut, it is a total bargain.
Would I go back? Been back three already and intent to make it a regular feature of my lunch time (another reason to visit the market – shop local and shop often), so that is a big (dog) yes.
Address: In Cardiff Central Market, bottom floor in the middle to the far right if coming in Hayes side.
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 11.00 – 16.00.