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Restaurants

Fancy Franks

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Reviewed on October 12, 2012 / review policy

fancy franks torontoFancy Franks has been open for just four days, but the gourmet hot dog shop has been generating murmurs of excitement since a bold-coloured mural appeared on its College St. brick wall about a month ago.

It's a move of promotional genius courtesy of Pulp&Fiber and the Community, but the kids who evidently skip up and down the street, singing a jingle they're made up themselves about the shop, are a case in point of advertising that money can't buy.

fancy franks torontoOwner Angelos tells me that they're providing more than just gourmet toppings: "Our dog is 100% beef in an all-natural lamb casing, which gives you a bit of a snap," unlike the casing-less dogs sold by street vendors. The meat is provided by a local Toronto butcher, the toppings are fresh from Kensington Market, and the buns come from Silverstein's Bakery down the street. With their 11am-11pm hours, they're drawing a stream of school-age kids, 20-somethings, and late-night traffic.

fancy franks torontoThe interior is unrecognizable as its former self, thanks to the designing touch of Marc Kyriacou. Reclaimed wood reigns supreme, in the rich wood countertops and the faded herringbone floors. A large vintage mural covers one wall, and the spot's seating is divided between coveted window seating and a long communal table.

The outdoor mural is the work of Andrew Kidder, the man behind Toronto restaurant signage for La Carnita and The Yukon, among others.

fancy franks torontoThe menu consists of several (read: many) hot dog options, including the Franks Got Seoul ($7.50, with Korean beef ribs, kimchi, sesame seeds and scallions) and the Franko Fancy-Aano ($9 for wrapped prosciutto, reggiano cheese and balsamic dijon mustard). I asked the dumb, and to me obvious, question: "These things all come on top of the dog?" The answer is a smiling yes. There, you've been spared the humiliation.

fancy franks torontoYou can also go for the humble corn dog ($6.25), and smother it in free toppings such as curried ketchup, hot peppers, saurkraut, kalamata olives and pickles. For $2, you can add chicken bacon, feta, or baked beans, or, if you're feeling fancy, top it with prosciutto or pulled pork for $3.

I overhear some complaints about the dog-to-bun ratio. While the hot dog itself is on the small side, the large, white bun is a definite necessity if indulging in one of Franks' more decadent options.

fancy franks torontoThe Frankaphone ($9), has been doing very well, with its mix of smoked gruyere, horseradish cheddar, squeaky curds, and honey dijon mayo. We opt for tomatoes, extra mustard, and the $1 upgrade to the spicy sausage (sweet mild and chicken, and veggie dogs are also available).

It's well worth it--a robust and satisfying piece of meat, although whatever spice there might be is fully sopped up by the cheeses. This riff on the French's love of their fromage is well-done, but the cheese itself adds only a touch of richness. Without the sausage, it might be fairly unremarkable.

fancy franks torontoI've been on something of a po'boy kick lately, so even though I at first glance dismiss the Po'boy Gets Fancy as excessive, it turns out my impulse control is feeble in the face of panko fried shrimp, horseradish mayo, and hot sauce. There are a few slender pieces of lettuce, to which I add tomatoes and horseradish mustard. Word to the wise: always add the latter.

It's a sandwich that shouldn't work, but somehow excels, thanks (and this is damning by faint praise) to the modest girth of the hot dog. The fried and heavily-breaded jumbo shrimp and array of sauces are the dominant flavours, with the hot dog registering as almost a textural afterthought--a good thing, to be clear.

fancy franks torontoA word about the combos: they're not as economical as you might think. If you add any fries and drink to your dog, you'll save $1. Likewise, if you add, say, a green salad (originally $4.25) or a chili poutine ($7.50), you'll again save just $1. The drinks are added full-price, and run from $2 for fountain drinks to $2.49 for glass-bottled Pepsi or sweet-ambrosia-of-my-youth orange Crush.

fancy franks torontoThe chili poutine ($7.50) is topped with chili and curds, but the gravy is nowhere to be found. It's not as terrible an oversight as it might seem, because the chili is almost entirely composed of ground meat, with a touch of jus and rich spices. The green salad is simple spring mix and halved baby tomatoes, topped with a rich balsamic vinaigrette (other options are available).

If you stop by next week, Franks will hopefully be complete with the much-anticipated arrival of a conveyor-belt-style donut machine from California, which has been held up at customs. They'll be mini donuts, sold by the dozen ($4-$5.25), and available in flavours as basic as powdered sugar, and as slightly-less-basic (but no doubt mouthwatering) as lemon curd and powdered sugar.

fancy franks torontoSo if you're not in the market for a meat coma, you can stop in for some sweet treats and one of three basic milkshake flavours ($4.25).

Discussion

39 Comments

Mike / October 12, 2012 at 09:39 am
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Any vegetarian options?
Indianguy / October 12, 2012 at 10:00 am
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Yes? Hi! You said you made the dumb. That makes the funny because Vashi makes the dumb all the time too.
Mikey H / October 12, 2012 at 10:15 am
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Went for lunch with folks from my office yesterday. So many choices, great decour, friendly staff! Defn putting this place on the weekly rotation!
Sean replying to a comment from Mike / October 12, 2012 at 10:48 am
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Duh?

Read the article.

(sweet mild and chicken, and veggie dogs are also available)
Adam / October 12, 2012 at 11:23 am
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Wvrst is better
huh / October 12, 2012 at 11:54 am
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"but the kids who evidently skip up and down the street, singing a jingle they're made up themselves about the shop, are a case in point of advertising that money can't buy."

.... confused?
Martine / October 12, 2012 at 11:57 am
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Saw that mural! Did some research about it, and the Pulp and Fiber team. It's really neat how they came up with the branding... they blogged about it.

http://www.pulp-and-fiber.com/2012/09/fancy-franks-fancy-branding

Can't wait to try this place! Fancy 90210 looks amazing!
huhx2 replying to a comment from huh / October 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm
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little editing required, but you don't need to be a dick about it.
poh replying to a comment from Adam / October 12, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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They do sausages, this places does hot dogs (more emulsified and different texture) and from the looks of it they do it well. Very rare to find a hot dog place that serves hot dogs with natural casings in the city.
Ken / October 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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Thanks for the review - good to know the source for their produce. Curried ketchup sound intriguing.
Always good to hear your "frank" opinions on the food, good and bad.
Pulp&Fiber / October 12, 2012 at 01:10 pm
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This was a really fun project to work on! It was a pleasure being a part of this. Also, we should note that we have tried a number of their hotdogs, and WOW! Totally worth a visit. These wieners are winners.
StephanieGuere / October 12, 2012 at 01:16 pm
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The Frank's Got Seoul was absolutely amazing. I have never enjoyed a hotdog more.
CTmang / October 12, 2012 at 01:34 pm
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This writer is the worst
Matthew Rohweder / October 12, 2012 at 01:34 pm
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i have to admit, I was not all that impressed. They misplaed my order which meant it took forever for me to get my hot dog. I ordered the Chicago Frank, but at first the girl gave me an order of poutine, and when I complained that this was not what I ordered, she seemed to not quite beleive me. They did finally realize their mistake and give me my actual hot dog, but it took an incredibly long time. I'm willing to drum this up to opening week jitters and will give the place another go around, based purely on how much I enjoyed my hot dog.
raven / October 12, 2012 at 02:23 pm
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ugh.
Brendan / October 12, 2012 at 04:51 pm
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Living in Kensington, I had been eagerly anticipating this place to open since I first saw the sign go up in July. Having finally tried it, I was massively disappointed.

The hot dog seemed undercooked. While the hot dogs are claimed to have a nice snap due to the natural lamb casing, mine was just rubbery and hard to bite through. The substance of the dog wasn't much better, being small and almost totally flavourless. Your typical street meat dog is much more flavourful, and cooking it on a grill rather than on a flat top, as they do at Fancy Frank's, adds a lot.

I ordered the Greek dog, and with toppings such as feta cheese and olives, you'd think that could make up for the flavourless rubbery meat, but even the toppings didn't add much, reflective of both their quality and quantity.

I ordered a poutine with my dog and was hoping it could salvage my meal. It's tough to screw up poutine, right? Wrong again. The fries were totally undercooked and remained a grainy, potatoey mush, and somehow retained the flavour of fryer oil above either gravy or curds.

Bottom line: my meal was $15 for a sub-street meat hot dog and borderline inedible poutine. Definitely won't be returning to this establishment.
shaddy / October 12, 2012 at 04:57 pm
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mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Dylia / October 12, 2012 at 05:18 pm
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I have to disagree with @Brendan. I at at Fancy Franks this week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only was my hotdog fresh and delicious, my poutine was excellent. You obviously don't know what you're talking about. You stick to the street meat, and the rest of the world will enjoy Fancy Franks, k?
jeff / October 13, 2012 at 11:46 am
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Took the kids by for Friday night dinner & was extremely happy with quality of dog & fries. My wife had a Frankathenapplis with substitute veggie dog, kids plain dog with ketchup & i had coney island WOW! great chilli! welcome to the neighborhood Fancy Frank.
Nick / October 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm
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I had the pizza dog, but wasn't very impressed. The hot dog to bun ratio is definitely a minus, which is why if I try this again I will opt for a sausage. It's a couple bucks more, but that's not a big deal. I'd like to chalk the experience up to the place being new, and I'm hopeful I will enjoy this more if I try some of the more outlandish topping options. Who wouldn't want fried eggs on their frank?
9 bucks for a hot dog and 7.50 for poutine???? / October 14, 2012 at 03:11 am
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Hipster food, hipster prices. :)
Not fancy enough / October 14, 2012 at 08:14 pm
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Sorry. Don't see what's "Fancy" about any of this. They're just hot dogs. And that poutine looks terrible. The author indicates she actually paid a STAGGERING $9 for a hot dog. And it took 20 comments before someone pointed this out? Hmmmm.
Rob replying to a comment from Not fancy enough / October 15, 2012 at 11:30 am
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My thoughts exactly.

It's just haphazardly piling a bunch of shit on a meat-bun product to inflate the cost/attempt to stand out.

I can pile a bunch of free stuff on a $3 street meat.

$9 hot dogs are for morons.
jeff / October 15, 2012 at 05:16 pm
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i had the plain hot dog on Friday & it was only $4.25 +you can top them with selections of fresh toppings. the fancy dogs are definetly more. street meat? never!
Acon / October 19, 2012 at 05:10 am
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This place is probably as horrible as the writer's English language skills.

I will gladly skip by this crap concept and spend my money at Kensington Market.
WTF / October 22, 2012 at 11:24 pm
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Went to this joint tonight ... what a fucking joke

the dood DEEP-FRIED my hotdog .. DEEP-FRIED!!! I had the one with prosciutto... terrible

Bun - shitty small
Weiner - Shitty small
Toppings - shitty
Price - huge ... 12.50 after tax for a hotdog and a Aquafina (who drinks that shit anyways?)

Seriously I'd rather hit up my dood at Queen and Spadina and pick up a real dog and drink for $4 .. whoever opened this spot is clearly not from Toronto .. how u gonna open a hotdog joint in Toronto and not even be better then street meat ... what a joke

the fuck outta here
Wtf idiot / October 25, 2012 at 01:24 am
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WTF you're retarted! You order a deep fried dog & ask why deep fry a dog ?? You buy aquafina & ask who drinks that ?? You do, you retard! You see the prices & then complain about it .. You must be the stupidest guy in Toronto. This place looks & feels American so at least you're right about that. Best dog in years!
Disgruntled customer / November 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm
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Thought we'd try this place out tonight... Not really sure what I was expecting.. It is just a hotdog... But I must say, I've never had my mood go from good to bad so quickly over something as little as a hotdog. "little" also being a good word to describe the dogs sold here.. And for the price .. Holy mother of god. While at the cashier I kept telling myself "don't worry, it's probably worth it.. How could it not? It's the most expensive hotdog I've ever purchased , and WILL ever purchase. ". I also bought a poutine "just in case" I was still hungry after. I brought my food home, prepared for what I thought was going to be hot dog bliss.. I was starving and this was going to solve all my problems.

2 bites later I was fueled with pure , unfiltered rage, as it dawned on me I had just spent 10 dollars on one of the worst excuses for a hotdog I've ever had. MANY questions started flooding through me such as "who is the asshole duping people into buying this shit". if this hot dog was a person I would have dragged him outside and beat the shit out of him for disrespecting me like that. I havnt been able to work since eating at franks due to the dehabilitating depression brought on from being scammed so hard. Walking down the street and getting a dog from a vendor would been such a better idea. And I wouldn't have had to waste my time writing this review. I will never return to your overpriced hipster establishment. Every good review on here is Obvioisly a friend or family member of the criminal who owns the place. overall, I did not enjoy my franks hot dog.

Don't get me started on the poutine..

Love always
- a gentleman who now wishes he were dead
Owner of Fancy Franks / November 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm
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I felt so ripped off after eating at this place that I almost entered a depression. What is this world coming to?
yomama replying to a comment from Disgruntled customer / November 2, 2012 at 05:30 pm
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what a loser you are! your life is over from a $10 meal lmfao. god forbid you walk into a gourmet burger shop you'd have to borrow money from yomama
Love doughnuts / November 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm
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Amazing doughnuts! Lemon curd and powdered sugar yyuuuuuuummmm! Already had dinner but next time gotta try them hot dogs. See you soon Fancy :)
Ken / November 24, 2012 at 09:38 am
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The place looks fabulous. How is business doing?
jeff replying to a comment from Ken / November 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm
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Before the Argos game we hit up Fancy Franks today, thank-you for another great experience Frankie goes to Buffalo. Place is usually busy weekends.
Dan / December 19, 2012 at 04:59 pm
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I've been looking forward to trying this establishment ever since it's opened, so maybe it's my fault for having expectation. Now, I know that Opinions are like a**Holes,(everybody has one) - but I feel as my experience goes beyond a simply matter of opinion.

We ordered two different Dogs. The first, the "Korean" dog. I opted to upgrade to a Spicy Sausage. The inattentive girl working the counter asked me what I wanted on my dog, only to be reminded by the cashier that I had ordered the Korean Dog. She added the braised rib meat, kimchee and a few rings of diced scallion to my Sausage. Firstly, At 8.50 - i was pretty disappointed a the size of the sausage. It wasn't much more then a 1/2'' thick, and barely long enough to cover the small bun. The Korean Beef was moist, but flavorless - and did not bring any of the soy/ginger/sesame flavors that I would expect from "korean" beef ribs.

The second dog we ordered was the Greek style dog, topped with Tomato, Cucumber, Feta Cheese and Black olives. The biggest issue with this dog was the deliver. It *really* doesn't make sense to prep your toppings in pieces that are so big that they require individual bites. The tomato slices were a mouth full in themselves, along with the super thick cucumbers and whole black olives. Spending the extra time to PROPERLY dice your toppings in a manner that they can all be shared together would have made this dog much more enjoyable. There's really no point in putting toppings on a hot dog, if they have to be eaten separately.

I understand and appreciate what They're going for - but I hope that these details are things they can sort out, as I surely won't be going back to spend nearly $20 on two hot dogs that weren't even in line with the quality of $3.50 street meat.

To say that WVRST is better is an understatement. This place isn't even in the same universe, let alone on the same playing field. For the same price of the sub-standard sausage I got at Fancy Franks, i can get Sausage that's double the sized and made from local game meat at WVRST.
HonestCritic / January 3, 2013 at 01:35 am
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AVOID AVOID AVOID

Took one bite and literally THREW IT OUT. Rubbery sub-cafeteria quality garbage.

Street meat is strictly superior in EVERY WAY. For more gourmet steamed fare, try the hot-n-dog in Parkdale.
doggie / February 27, 2013 at 10:49 am
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had the frankophone recently, and it was absolutely delicious! nice girl at the counter recommended the spicy ketchup on top, which was great! will be back for the donuts and the rest of the dogs!
DOGGYSTYLE replying to a comment from WTF / March 10, 2013 at 01:00 am
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K, are you retarded? You wanna kill yourself after eating a hot dog wrapped in proscuitto? I tried it and I died and went to heaven. And the poutine was a huge portion with a generous amount of curds and gravy, it was enough to share with my girlfriend. The poutine was a meal in itself and we were beyond full after our meal. That didn't stop the two lovely ladies working from offering us an assortment of their mouthwatering donuts. YUM! It was like eating a gourmet italian hot dog, a poutine straight from Quebec, and donuts from the CNE but better!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will definitely return :)
Laura Bee / May 28, 2013 at 01:14 pm
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I was walking by, and decided for a treat. Such a disappointment - super expensive and and lame. I went for the Frankaphone on a veggie dog. The staff were like zombies, with little interest in cooking my food even though there was place was empty. My precooked veggie dog was pulled out at the last minute, thrown onto a bun with some cheese and steamed under a stainless steel lid. It just became a soggy mess. Then then almost forgot the mustard until the guy in charge quickly yelled to the half asleep cook to add the sauce. Seriously, 3 ingredients and they almost forget one? I've had waaay better veggie dogs from street vendors. There is a reason why the place was pretty much empty over the lunch hour.
sofia / November 25, 2013 at 06:29 pm
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Came here for dinner with my 3 children, bought the "kid friendly" junior hot dog. Kids enjoyed them everything was just fine..

UNTILL... someone who came across as the Owner/Manager took my husbands order and seemed very unfriendly, like he didn't want to be there.. Half way through our family meal got interrupted by him lecturing his staff in a very loud and aggressive manor. Most of the customers in the restaurant diverted their attention towards him. A very awkward moment to say the least.

Anyway overall this place is great! Love the retro vibe and feel when walking in, the glass pop bottles are a great idea and mini donuts are a perfect addition for a sweet tooth like myself to indulge for dessert!

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