A hot dog should stick with ketchup and mustard, relish being the absolute maximum topping, right? That is what most of the hot dog eating world seems to believe, being as staunch traditionalist about the simplicity of hot dogs, as ardent baseball traditionalists (often the same people) believe the sport has no right to be played at night.
Oh, but times are changing. We don’t do a double-take at magma lava explosion sushi rolls or peanut butter, jelly, and sardine-topped elk burgers. And come on, the Mets are in the World Series. Obviously we are in funky times.
[jump] The well-known James Beard winning chef Bradley Ogden who made his name at Marin’s Lark Creek Inn and as Las Vegas’ best big name chef who actually cooked in Vegas, is definitely down-scaling in the family-friendly direction. In Houston he owns a fast casual chicken and ribs-centric Funky Chicken and last week opened Bradley’s Funky Franks adjacent to his less-than-a-year old Bradley’s Fine Diner — where I found the fried chicken to be a B.F.D., but the mashed potatoes a B.F.D(isappointment) — across from Menlo Park’s Caltrain station.
The Bad Ass Dog adds sriracha mayo and pepperjack cheese to a spicy rustic relish. Bizarre? No. But cool. The Morning Dog will give you your daily cholesterol allotment with its bacon wrapping and fried egg topping, while the Philly Cheese Dog is exactly what you would guess it is with cheddar, not with wiz. Best is the Kali Dog ($7.25) where bleu cheese, spicy mustard, and kale slaw are a great trio for a Niman Ranch spicy Italian sausage that doesn’t skimp on the heat. I can’t stand when out-of-towners call our state “Cali” but I’m very okay with this dog.
Nicely fried pickles ($4.25) in a thick, grease-free batter with a remoulade- like dipping sauce should be the go-to side amidst the usual fries, tater tots, onion rings, cole slaw, and cup of chili. No baked beans with hot dogs?? Sadly, that is correct. Blasphemy.
Outside of seven pre-designed “signature dogs,” diners can build their own with a beef dog, bratwurst, the aforementioned Italian, chicken sausage, or vegan dog, and add whatever toppings desired. A decent selection of fourth tier craft beers and shakes (coffee-Nutella or marshmallow fluff!) complete the experience. And do sit on the gorgeous plantation- style patio overlooking the groggy commuters exiting the trains. It is Kauai meets Silicon Valley business park.
Curiously, neighboring Palo Alto recently saw a similar creative hot dogs establishment called Chez Franc open and close in a blink. Apparently, customers didn’t want to pay $12-$15 for high quality, intriguing, and way more bizarre ensembles with the likes of cassoulet, bonito, or house cured pastrami topped reuben dogs. I will point out that these funky franks aren’t enormous, so many appetites may need two of them. Then, guess what, now you’re in the same price territory as Chez Franc was. I’m just saying, it’ll be interesting to watch.
Yes, maybe these aren’t the funkiest franks. But they are fun hot dogs for all ages, and frankly, that is most important.
Bradley's Funky Franks, 1195 Merrill St., Menlo Park, 650-391-9634.