frank. is an underground dinner party whose catch phrase is “food, to the point.” You submit your interest in attending via their website <https://frankunderground.com> and then 20 attendees were chosen by lottery ( or possibly by one of the cute dogs named Frank). Chefs Jennie Kelley and Ben Starr met at the MasterChef competition when they were finalists and later Jennie came up with the idea of hosting private, or underground, dinner parties where all would sit around one table and enjoy a meal of the freshest and finest local ingredients they could source and recruited Ben to help her bring the idea to reality. The concept has flourished over many years and now it make take some time to have your name drawn to participate. However, you can also watch their Facebook page where they post opening from last minute cancellations. It was a multi course meal that included generous alcoholic beverages, amuse bouche and lots of food talk. It took about three hours. After being accepted they will email a menu and location of the dinner which is generally close to downtown.
While all 20 arrived we consumed a couple glasses of cold refreshing sparkling wine and met the chefs and other dinner guests, and then we were seated. The table was assembled from the antique floor boards reclaimed from a demolished farmhouse. Seating is close and you can look over your shoulder and see the plates being assembled. Each course is prefaced with some explanation of the ingredients and thoughts behind the dish. Our theme for the evening was Brunch after Dark, VI – a popular one which they have repeated and refined.
An amuse bouche was a small jar glass filled with shrimp, crab, Gulf red snapper and Village Farms heirloom tomato purée. It was fresh, salty, spicy and wonderful. The ceviche like mixture was speckled with goldfish crackers that added a nice bit of crunch.
Sous vide egg bites were a Flock savory egg custard with a three year old Vermont cheddar mixed with chives, sour cream & onion potato chips. The chips added a fun texture and an interesting taste to the dense custard.
Gratuitous Toast was a take on the avocado toasts that seem popular these days. This one featured house made thick sliced sourdough bread covered with “everything” cream cheese, caviar, avocado caper onion relish and house cured smoked sockeye salmon. The toast was griddled in duck fat and the salmon house cured and smoked with blackberry canes. The topping was tossed with pea tendrils and purple radish. The salmon had a nice mild smoked flavor. It was a fun play on the excessive number of avocado toasts that are working their way on to too many menus.
The house cured bacon tasting featured 3 types of bacon- triple pepper from Chubby Dog Farms red wattle and mangalitsa pigs, everything umami from Laraland Farms red wattle pigs and hatch green Chile from Legend Meats red wattle. All of them tasted more of pork than smoke. The pepper had a slight heat as did the Hatch chile but the umami was the one that caught my eye as it had an interesting curry flavor. It was a fun change to a standard piece of bacon.
A strawberry rose sorbet was mixed with House distilled mollyberry gin. It was refreshing with a good hit of strawberry flavor.
Green eggs and Lamb were made with local egg shakshouka, Texas green veggie sauce and Circle 15 Farms lamb. A coddled egg was cooked with tomato, asparagus, heirloom potatoes and artichoke heart then topped with baby lemon basil. It was creamy with a nice mixture of flavors and textures.
Duck, duck, goose was a combination of Circle 15 farms duck confit, a 63º duck egg, Texas veggie hash, goose egg hollandaise and stonefruit hot sauce. Cornmeal fried okra dotted the plate and cherry plums were the main stone fruit in the sauce. It was another fun combination of flavors and textures.
Dessert was peaches and cream which included a gooey cinnamon roll, cream cheese frosting, cinnamon honey butter and bourboned Texas peach compote. The cinnamon roll was poached in butter and topped with a dollop of dark caramel. Hazelnuts were the final touch, which added a crunch. It was indeed a gooey cinnamon roll which was divine. Smothered in cream cheese frosting it was perfectly balanced with the peaches and cinnamon ice cream. This was a wonderfully sweet closing for the meal. Yum!