Monday Magazine columnist
Like Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, one can walk right past Saint Franks and never notice it is there. No shingle hangs over its door and only an unremarkable aged-wood sandwich board stands on the sidewalk.
Its black façade disappears within a frame of grey stonework. Even its sign: dingy-white letters on black, hangs thin, flush and unlit overhead. The windows reflect the street more than revealing what is inside. Whatever this place is, it seems clear, if you don’t know, maybe you don’t belong.
But double back, take a closer look and if you can muster the courage, step inside. The room feels like a Baz Luhrmann movie set: a fantastical dark alley for a bleu noir gangster jazz musical. The black ceiling seems to rise to infinity above the polished cement floor.
|Saint Franks’ Blizzle Tizzle dog is not health food, despite the presence of lettuce and tomatoes, writes Allan Reid. Facebook|
On the left, a wall of century-old red brick, painted with a wide dingy white stripe and, above, the slogan “Good Times,” backs an iron bar lined with grey industrial-chic stools and lit by industrial pendent lamps. A dull brick-red banquette runs behind dark tables for two with two wooden chairs, the spots dimly lit with bare bulbs hanging on long black wires like Edison might have used.
Laser-etched wood art hangs on the black wall above the banquette. A high, dark grey table with more metal stools stands inside the windows. At the back, a row of table top video games, all free to play, offer games any ’80s vintage teenager will remember. And behind these, at the very back, behind a large nine-paned mullioned window and under a marquee sign spelling Victory (with some bulbs burned out for authenticity) is a working barber shop. Now that’s just strange.
Another marquee sign, “Drinks,” headlines a cocktail menu that hangs at the far end of the banquette, right before a block of white subway tiles, behind which the kitchen whips up magic.
Saint Franks is a bar. It is no place for children. But as the name suggests, besides booze, it serves mean hot dogs.
I ordered the Blizzle Tizzle Dog: a flame-grilled wiener sits on a fresh Bond Bond Bakery bun with crisp-fried bacon, tomato, lettuce, a spicy aioli and loads of gooey grated cheese. Okay, so the lettuce and tomato aside, this is not health food. Who cares? This is a five-napkin dog. I picked it up and decided it would be easier to eat with a knife and fork. But that too seemed awkward, so I picked it up again, and deliberated back and forth for several minutes before I adopted my Who Cares attitude and picked it up for good.
Flame grilling blisters the wiener’s skin and imparts a satisfying char taste that is matched and supported by the bacon. The spicy aioli was not very spicy, just flavourful, and the cheese held that soft sourdough-like bun open as wide as it could go. The tomato and lettuce were mostly to assuage my conscience. I assure you, as I pat my stomach, one dog is dinner.
Saint Franks offers 10 comfort-food dogs including Mac N Cheese, The Ultimate Picnic Dog and the World’s Best Chili Dog. If my Blizzle Tizzle is exemplary of the rest, they are well worth their $7.50 price tag, but one can also order the Ballpark Basic (mustard, ketchup and crispy onions) for just $5. That’s better than ballpark prices, and these are way better than ballpark dogs.
Saint Franks, 1320 Broad St.
778-255-6013 Find them on Facebook: @Saintfranks