On my last visit to Chicago, I had an inkling of going to another sausage joint after Hot Dougs. But I was so stuffed (and in major need of a shower) after eating my Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage and Duck Fat fries, that there was just no room left.....
So this time Franks n' Dawgs went to the front of the line. Picking up my rental at O'Hare, I made a beeline for the Lincoln Park area and Franks n' Dawgs. Really, after hitting up Hot Doug's, how could I not check out the creations of Franks n' Dawgs..... featuring sausages like the China Town Duck ("Chinese 5 spice duck sausage, pickled lotus roots, scallion radish slaw & Mae Ploy chili sauce"), Truffle Mac 'n' Cheese Dog ("Bratwurst sausage, truffle mac ‘n’ cheese with parmesan, brioche bread crumbs & thyme"), Black Sheep ("Toasted black pepper lamb sausage, black pepper oyster sauce, buttermilk vinaigrette, macerated figs, red onions & basil"), and Triple Truffle Fries? The menu will either have you drooling, or scratching your head in wonder ( The "FU" - "Marinated tofu with grilled eggplant relish, caramelized portabellas, Italian salsa verde & chèvre").
Things didn't start out real well for me.....there's a door on the street side, and a note saying to go through the alleyway for an entrance. But there I stood like a dummy trying to figure out how I'm supposed to get in, until I regained my English comprehension skills (at least temporarily) and finally read the sign. I had a game plan with "target sausages" that I wanted to try, but for some reason that all went out the window when I walked up to the counter and read the part of the menu that said "Iron Dawg Competition". Over a period two well known chefs create a "dawg", competing on the basis of sales. If I recall correctly, whomever has the most sales survives and goes on to the next round against another challenger. So I went with one of each.....not cheap since each sausage costs almost ten bucks! This little shop does some major business, and was pretty full, but nothing like the masses at Hot Dougs.
There was one part of my visit that really cracked me up. The really friendly guy behind the counter told me to "pick your photo from the Wall of Shame"....... there are photos with a wooden backing and a strip of velcro on the back. You attach these to your table instead of numbers so the young lady in the dining area can bring you your order. It seemed like all the good ones (like Nick Nolte's mug shot) were taken. The young man, seeing that I was having a problem choosing, told me, "too bad these aren't ready yet, these would be easy choices", and held up photos of Casey Anthony and one we can call "the Weiner". In the end, I chose this famous mugshot:
The first sausage to arrive for this little piggy was This Little Piggy ($9.50):
This looked a bit overwrought with butter pickled red onions, though the remoulade added a nice bit of rich "tang" to the whole thing. The salt and vinegar chip crusted oysters tasted somewhat fishy and seemed out of place on the sausage. I loved the lobster style rolls, they just seemed perfect......richly toasted on all sides and able to stand up to these fairly rich sausages. The sausage, a garlic pork sausage seemed pretty mundane sans all the garnishes and sauce, I loved the casing which had nice snap, but the sausage itself was pretty tough.
I preferred the "Boar'n to be Wild" ($9.95):
This was a wild boar sausage topped with fried onions (it's called tempura onions, but they looked plain fried to me), pieces of fried sweet potatoes and yellow peppers. I could make out the flavor of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and Thai basil. This sausage was more tender and reminded me of a milder Thai or Lao sausage. It wasn't bad, but not great.
I was quite full after this meal, there's a good amount of richness in these sausages. I did regret getting side tracked and not ordering what I had planned. So I'll have to make sure to revisit in the future.... after all I just gotta get those Triple Truffle Fries, right?