Uncle Frank's - yes, this is okay
Uncle Frank's, in its current Mountain View spot behind a bar that includes a pool table, serves perfectly good barbecue. Do not avoid it, do not shun it. The barbecue is completely edible.
I stopped by early in the day to check that Frank would have brisket for me that evening, asked when he would close, and generally sussed out what we might eat, viz.:
sliced brisket with hot sauce. Good. Sweet, unremarkable hot sauce. However, the brisket is smoky, neither dry nor greasy. Frank's smoked brisket is pretty potent in flavor.
chicken pieces with mild sauce. I think the chicken itself is largely flavorless, which is pretty much what you get in chickens these days. However, the penetrating smoke seemed to help, and the wing- and leg pieces were all moist.
pork ribs with mild sauce. Dull, but also smokey. Even less flavor than the chicken.
Cajun corn: spicy creamed sweet corn kernels. Edible.
Cole slaw: in spite of including red cabbage, utterly dull.
Beans: fairly dry, but smoky. These were quite good, even delicious. Would order again.
Cornbread: this is a dry, undersweetened cake, and neither of us liked it.
There is also pepper vinegar on the table, with little Tabasco (bird) peppers in vinegar. I at a few of these, and they are a fine, piquant thing. The vinegar is good, too.
Frank's has one of the most refined atmospheres in all of Mountain View. It's super friendly, accommodating long conversations with the staff, basketball on the TVs, and a slightly seedy bar as the entrance.
Frank prepares barbecue well. Nothing was over- or undercooked. The strong smoke flavor penetrated all the meats. Unfortunately, the quality of the materials seemed middling: neither the ribs nor the chicken had particularly resonant meat flavor. The brisket is better -- maybe that will be the last part of the cow from which flavor is removed. I think, in fact, that Frank would do well with a brace of good quail or with pork ribs that tasted like something.
Francesca's and Uncle Frank's, 2135 Old Middlefield, Mountain View
I actually like the ribs better than the brisket. The brisket varies from okay (some days its a touch dry) to great (when it's flavorful, moist, and has that beautiful pink ring).
Another standout is the fried chicken wings.
I've mentioned this before, but Uncle Franks smoke has a sour, acrid taste sometimes, but is much more noticeable in leftovers the next day. I find that this can come from the use of mesquite for longer smoking, either too much or too long. Only once has it been too strong, other times it is kind of in the background, where there is an edge to the smoke flavor and it is not smooth. I like their brisket the best, with the sauce on the side.
re: P. Punko
I thought Uncle Frank's was a great place. The service was very friendly, though a bit slow and forgetful, and the restaurant has lots of atmosphere. I really wanted to like it, but the ribs we received seem to have a fuel flavor, something like what was described in the above post. The odd flavor was strongest in the ribs, but also present to a lesser degree in the brisket. I'm going to try Uncle Frank's again because I've heard great things about the BBQ and everyone there was really, really nice. I want to like it because I like the idea of this type of a restaurant, but I think they need to work on their quality control.
It is a usual mistake- if you smoked something for even just a couple of hours at home over mesquite, you would generate this flavor. It is acrid and sour. Hickory, cherry, apple, maple woods do not give this aftertaste. Mesquite is great for steak and fish and for charcoal, much less good for long smoking.
I've been a patron since his days in East Palo Alto. You will certainly have to enter with an open mind, follow your nose so to speak. I have yet to find a place in the immediate area to holds a candle to Uncle Frank's. We speak so much just about food here, the food is only part of the equation at Uncle Frank's. He, himself is an icon, his service and dining room is also legendary among my circle of friends.
I have also yet to finish a meal there, and they make not reservations about calling me/us out on it. "I thought you were a man!" I can hear it echo in my head, as she says with a smile and brings me a take out container.
I have also yet to try it but apparently Frank has 'seasonal' items as well, you just need to ask what he recommends for the day. He might or he might not, but I've heard some good stuff. I'll need to varify before I spread any more rumors.
This place is good for 3 meals in my opinion. Dinner there, lunch the next day and even dinner if I want. (and this is not stretching it, my eyes are always larger then my stomach at Uncle Frank's)
Uncle Frank's is still going strong a couple years later. Frank is currently opening up a new place in the Atlanta area, but the rest of the team is carrying on in fine form.
On today's visit the brisket, ribs, and sauce were all spot on. The cajun corn and black-eyed peas were just OK. I like cornbread in this drier, less sweet style. Sweet potato pie was a marvelous finish. Plenty of leftovers for tomorrow!
Uncle Frank's BBQ
2135 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043
re: Mick Ruthven
Like many barbecue places, it hasn't been a paragon of consistency. I've never had a problem with the ribs, but the brisket has veered between just OK and excellent. Last night it was excellent, the best I've had in my last couple of visits. I can't go here very often so I don't know how consistency has changed since Frank has been in Atlanta. But everybody else cooking and serving has been there for years.