Friday, December 21, 2018

Summersville HDJ Review - Fran's Restaurant

Fran's Restaurant and Coffee House, a Summersville Tradition
Fran's is one of those places about which  we've had dozens of emails claiming it is the best hot dogs in town over the years, but until recently, the stars never aligned for us to do a review. Perhaps it was this week's close approach of Comet 46P/Wirtanen, or simply the fact that I needed to make a rare mid-week trip through Summersville at lunchtime, but I finally made it.

Fran's has been a fixture in downtown Summersville for as long as I can remember. Offering lots of home-cooking options and just generally being the place to go for a hot meal or a cool piece of pie. In West Virginia, these kinds of places usually have hot dogs on the menu, so even if I hadn't receive lots of emails telling me so, I would have known that Fran's was a review target even before I walked in. The description on the menu gave no clues about how Fran's prepared an "everything" dog, so I had to asked the server: "Chili, slaw, mustard, onions...." she said, and then after a moment's hesitation she added "...and ketchup." I told her to keep the ketchup in the kitchen and just bring me two with the first four toppings.
Oops, no slaw.

When my hot dogs arrived, I first noticed the grilled split-top buns. Not a good start for a traditional WVHD, but it is a sit-down restaurant, so I can live with it. The grilling was well executed and the cook did a good job of not soaking the buns with butter which sometimes happens when West Virginians try to use New England buns. As a piece of bread, it was tasty.

I guess it was the combination of the dim lighting in the room, couple with the bright sunshine outside coupled with the me not wearing my reading glasses that made me take a bite of the hot dog before I realized that it had no slaw on it. I quickly brought this to the attention of the server, and she quickly brought me a bowl of slaw that I could apply myself, but before I did I had the opportunity to taste the chili alone. In typical Southern WV fashion, the chili had good texture, but was pretty bland. It could stand a doubling of the chili powder and maybe a dash of Cayenne.

A liberal slathering of slaw, self-applied.
Before I applied it, I had a few tasting bites of the slaw. Sweet, creamy and fine texture. It deserves better chili. Since I was applying it myself, and I had plenty to spare, I decided to really lay it on heavy to cover up the blandness of the chili.

Overall, the hot dogs at Fran's are underwhelming. Even if it had come properly dressed, the lack of synergy of the chili and slaw combination would make this an average hot dog at best. If you are a fan of grilled Lobster Roll buns you will probably like the bread, but didn't someone once say that man cannot live by bread alone?

We're giving Fran's a 3 Weenie rating. If they'd spice up the chili to better pair with the delicious slaw, it could be a 4. Could be the best in town, but with Fat Eddie's a short drive away, certainly not the best in the area. Of course, Eddie's is closed in the winter, so maybe Fran's is the best in town in the winter.