Frankie and Benny’s really stepped up to the vegan plate recently and whilst it didn’t create the storm that Greggs vegan sausage roll did, it’s been all over social media and if you haven’t noticed the fuss you’ve been living in a cave. Frankie’s isn’t the place to go for a gourmet meal but for Italian American inspired junk and pizzas, it hits the spot quite nicely. Plus when you’re saddled with two kids like us, you’re not going to get the stare down from childless adults when you bundle them into a booth and ply them with fizzy drinks and cheap crayons.
Frankie’s has never offered up much for vegetarians in the past, so I was genuinely shocked to see the amount of vegan additions to their new menu, including a burger (meaty not beany!), vegan mac n cheese, vegan chicken parmigiana, vegan chicken nuggets and vegan cheese to go on any of their pizzas (one of which is a BBQ vegan-chicken style beast which I’m dying to try next).
But there was one thing I wanted to shove in my gob first and it’s one of the things that’s lacking in nearly any diner where you can get dirty fast food. It’s a decent vegan (or even vegetarian) hot dog. Anywhere will serve you a dried out, breadcrumbed veggie burger that’s been lurking in a deep freeze for the last six months, but few have taken the trouble to source a vegan hot dog sausage and place it lovingly in a bun for the patiently waiting plant-based community.
Thankfully Frankie and Benny’s have done just that. Meat avoiding hot dog lovers, I recommend you go and try the Not Hot Dog. It’s six divine inches of plant-based sausage goodness lathered with fried onions. (If you’re a self-respecting dog lover, you’ll promptly request the ketchup and mustard like I did and douse the dog.)
As I snapped a few photos and promptly chowed down in delight, I wondered if I was so enamoured because it’s the only vegan hot dog I’ve ever had in a restaurant. I don’t want to be the kind of shit food reviewer who gives every token vegan gesture a thumbs up out of humble gratitude. So I gave myself a proverbial slap in the face and thought about it objectively.
There’s really not much to consider with a hot dog. It mostly comes down to the sausage – and I must admit whilst it tasted nice, I found this one to be slightly dry. Typically, meat free sausages and burgers end up drier than their meat counterparts because they have far less fat content which keeps the meaty versions greasy and moist. BUT – with all the nicely caramelised onions sitting on my Frankie’s dog and the sauce I’d drowned it in, the assembled item was anything but dry. It had a nice, soft but meaty texture and the subtle, smoky flavour you expect from a hot dog. The bun was fresh and soft and it was sat on a bed of fries that were hot and crispy. What more could I expect?!
At £7.49, it’s averagely priced for a restaurant junk food and worth the money in terms of portion size. One thing I would suggest to Frankie and Benny’s is that they shouldn’t get too comfy with providing just one vegan option. There are for example, 10 variations on the meat Hot Dog (philly cheesesteak dog, barbacoa dog, BBQ pulled pork…) We are, of course, grateful to have one version for now because it’s one more than we had a year ago! But don’t make us feel too left out 🙂