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"Fat Franks," Bellows Falls, VT - Go there NOW!

r
Redstone Aug 4, 2008 02:22 PM

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.

Fat Franks
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.)

Redstone

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    stroshow3 RE: Redstone Aug 4, 2008 09:12 PM

    Sounds very intriguing, Redstone. I may have to make it down to check it out. In terms of their ingredients, do you know if any is sourced locally and/or organic?

    6 Replies
    1. re: stroshow3
      r
      Redstone RE: stroshow3 Aug 5, 2008 07:27 AM

      It appears that they get all of their ingrendients from New Egland (with the exception of the potatoes from PEI). Most of their meats (if not all) come from Boston, and their variety of mustards are from a company in Maine. The cook did tell me that they use local ingredients "as much as possible," so I'd guess the local content to be 90% or more overall.

      I just re-read their menu, and don't see anything about organic ingredients.

      Redstone

      1. re: Redstone
        Morganna RE: Redstone Aug 6, 2008 05:26 AM

        they should get their meat locally, too. Plenty of fantastic local meat producers. I'm looking into buying a whole side of beef to stock our freezer up. :)

        1. re: Morganna
          r
          Redstone RE: Morganna Aug 6, 2008 01:12 PM

          Feel free to let me know who you end up dealing with for that side of beef. My wife is pressing me to by a freezer so we can split a side of beef and a side of pork with our neighbors, and as a native Vermonter, I'd much rather buy one from there if possible.

          Redstone

          1. re: Redstone
            Morganna RE: Redstone Aug 7, 2008 05:47 AM

            North Hollow Farm (http://www.vermontgrassfedbeef.com/). They stock meat at Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier, and I imagine they stock it at other coops. They even delivered it in town to my husband's office when I bought brisket from them for our holiday feast last year. It was a wonderful brisket.

            They charge $3/lb hanging weight (which means it'll ultimately be more than that per pound because there's waste when they cut it up, but you get all the wonderful cuts that are too expensive to buy normally, as well as the cuts you can't hardly find any more, like marrow bones and soup bones).

            They also have pork. :

            )

            http://store.vermontgrassfedbeef.com/...
            http://store.vermontgrassfedbeef.com/...

            1. re: Morganna
              r
              Redstone RE: Morganna Aug 7, 2008 03:21 PM

              Thanks a bunch for the info. I'd like very much to deal with a New England provider (especially Vermont, because I grew up there) if and when we do get that freezer.

              Redstone

              1. re: Morganna
                t
                tkln RE: Morganna Sep 7, 2008 08:17 AM

                I have visited this farm on several occasions and I actually order from them year round - and they ship to me here in NYC. :-)
                The flank steak is amazing.

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        chefcman RE: Redstone Sep 6, 2008 02:31 PM

        i went there on my way home from newbury and it was very good
        the owner had no idea about chowhound and seemed surprised that i had heard about it that way

        burger was good and juicy fries were very good and i am not a fry head
        downtown bellows falls is a wonderful picturesque place

        i am happy that i went

        3 Replies
        1. re: chefcman
          h
          hotdoglover RE: chefcman Sep 8, 2008 04:56 PM

          Are the dogs natural casing or skinless? And are they all beef or beef and pork?

          1. re: hotdoglover
            Bri RE: hotdoglover Sep 12, 2008 06:20 AM

            From what I remember of the menu, the actual hot dogs are all beef. However, they have all kinds of sausages and dog specials every day, it looks like.

            I wish I could say I loved my burger but I really didn't. Maybe a different cook or just an off day but I ordered the burger special yesterday and it was bad.

            Special was chorizo burger with chipotle mayo, jack cheese, jalapenos - it sounded really decadent and yummy. Counter girl asked how I wanted my burger cooked, so I said Medium.

            Burger arrived and looked great and was huge. When I cut it in half to get a better handle on it, 2/3 of it was completely raw. When I showed it to what I think was the manager, he agreed that it was way undercooked. I said I'm fine with Med or even Med Rare. When the burger came back it was well done and hard as a rock. I was SO upset but quite frankly couldn't be bothered to return it a second time. I at what I could and tossed the rest.

            The fries were great and the service was friendly, but I'm thinking its better to stick with the dogs. I'll go back for a dog and to try the chili, but I don't want to risk another burger.

            1. re: Bri
              Bri RE: Bri Jun 22, 2011 02:32 AM

              I guess I never updated with more recent visits but...love, love this place. I still only get the dogs but their chili is just the way I like it - no beans and very good. I recommend going for the Fat Frank dog because you get a more substantial bun than with the Skinny Frank and it holds up better with lots of toppings.

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              Fat Franks
              92 Rockingham St, Bellows Falls, VT 05101

        2. p
          Peznt RE: Redstone Nov 29, 2009 04:17 AM

          Stopped in the past Friday after a trip to Mass. My Bacon Cheese Fat Frank was very tasty. I really like the roll (not sure what it is) that was used. Had I not so much Thanksgiving leftovers at the house I would have bought some items from the case for home.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Peznt
            p
            Peznt RE: Peznt May 9, 2011 09:10 AM

            UPDATE - Driving back through VT, stopped in to pick up some hot dogs from the deli case, The place was jumping, burgers, dogs and lots of fries. All of the seats upstairs and downstairs were filled. Meanwhile the pizza place across the way had only a few customers, the China Garden Buffet parking lot was nearly empty. The Fat Franks, Regular Franks and Skinny Franks I purchased were grilled up on Sunday afternoon were excellent.

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            Fat Franks
            92 Rockingham St, Bellows Falls, VT 05101

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