WTGW 10/29/14: Frank’s Place, Akron

Standard

So, I think Shane is trying to take the lead on discovering the most “hole in the wall hidden gems” out of our WTGW list. Or “places that look scary on the outside but surprise you once you’re inside.” Whatever you want to call it.

(I guess after a year+ of doing this, we’re slowly finding our niches. For example:  Ted has, well, all of Kent. And Shane has … places next to a scary motel, in areas of town we normally don’t travel, and that we’re dangerously close to drawing straws on who gets to open the front door first. To each his own.)

Frank’s Place definitely falls into Shane’s territory. Located on the corner of W. Market St and Merriman, across from a cemetery, we drove by once before realizing we passed the place, and then nearly again when we thought that “couldn’t possibly be it.”

Just in case we forgot where we were ...

Just in case we forgot where we were …

Our second thought after we made it into the parking lot was that we hoped half the vehicles in the lot were somehow abandoned there, because we weren’t sure how all the people they belonged to could possibly fit into that tiny building.

Tiny maybe isn’t even the correct word to describe this place. I think I’ve had living rooms bigger than this place, and I certainly haven’t resided in mansions. If most restaurants are Lincoln Navigators, Frank’s would be a Fiat. Or a Smart Car. Or maybe a Scooter.

To make it worse, we unknowingly arrived on dart night, which we discovered takes over half of the ridiculously small number of tables on the floor out of commission.

(Side note, beware of entering through the front/only door on dart night, as it’s situated smack between the two dartboards. It’s a little intimidating to open the door and find someone seemingly aiming a dart at your head.)

But before we could get discouraged, our server approached us, quickly realized we were new to the place (that lost look on all of our faces – and the fact that we tried to sit at one of the dart tables – must’ve given that away) and that we had come on a night with a reduced amount of seating. She pointed to the one table large enough to accommodate our group of five, which was at the moment taken up by a group of older folks, and kindly told us they would be leaving soon if we wanted to just get some drinks and wait it out to order food.

Deal.

And sure enough, we had barely gotten our first round of drinks before that group was gathering their things and heading out. Actually, watching our server talk to the group as they left, it was clear she’d been taking care of them there at Frank’s Place regularly for many years. We asked and she said they come a few times a month, and had been for years. Gotta love that. Especially since that will probably be our little group one day. Ha.

Frank’s has a pretty impressive list of craft beers, which was a little unexpected for a place that had the look and feel of a dive bar. We all went Miller Lite … except, of course, for Ted, because, well, Ted. I’m not sure exactly what his first pick was (probably something I couldn’t pronounce or spell anyway), but then afterward I know he went with the Smutty Pumpkin (which may or may not have been a “guilt move” after the server put some on ice for us “just in case” we’d want to try it later) and then a Vanilla Porter.

As is becoming common practice for us, we asked the server (I’m beginning to realize I really should’ve gotten her name if I’m going to be mentioning her this much) what her favorites were on the menu. And she was great – she went through and picked out an item in each section of the menu, since she “wasn’t really sure what we were all in the mood for and didn’t want to leave anything out.” Nailed it.

One of the things she raved about the most was the spicy stuffed pepper balls on the appetizer menu. As you can probably guess, that took very little twisting of our arms to order. And wow. Take everything you love about a spicy stuffed pepper, roll it into a ball, and deep fry it. I’m really not sure how exactly you can go wrong there.

You can deep fry anything and we'll eat it. For reals.

You can deep fry anything and we’ll eat it. For reals.

For dinner, Shane, Amanda and I all had burgers. I had the BBQ Bacon, Shane had the Black & Bleu, Amanda had the Bourbon. Shane and I both thought they were delicious, while Amanda said the bourbon sauce didn’t have much flavor.

Crinkle cut fries = awesome

You don’t see crinkle cut fries nearly enough anymore.

I opted for the sweet potato fries instead of the regular fries, and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Unlike the ones I had at The Game a few weeks back, these ones were truly sweet, with a cinnamon twist to them. You know, how they’re supposed to taste. Delicious.

Sweet potato fries count as a vegetable, right?

Sweet potato fries count as a vegetable, right?

On the chicken side of the table, Ted got the Cajun Chicken entree, which he really liked. He said it had the perfect blend of seasoning on it. He used the sauteed spinach as more of a condiment than a side dish, though. Jenny had the Chicken spinach wrap, which she also liked. They both said the chicken itself was really good.

The other "non-burger" plate

The other “non-burger” plate

One of these meals is healthier than the other

One of these meals is healthier than the other

Ted apparently brought his Genie lamp to dinner with us, because after we ate the conversation somehow turned to our infamous trip to the frozen yogurt bar a few weeks back, and Ted mentioned that he could actually go for something sweet or dessert-like after his meal this time around, too. We joked about not really thinking Frank’s was the type of place to have a dessert menu – unless it was of the alcohol variety.

No joke, ten minutes later our waitress shows up out of the blue with a plate of five mini apple muffins. Just drops them off at our table and walks away, no explanation. Interesting. And delicious. But interesting nonetheless.

Magic muffins

Magic muffins

The muffins get the Turtle Stamp Of Approval

The muffins get the Turtle Stamp Of Approval

Then about ten minutes after that she reappears with five pumpkin pie shots, and sets those in front of us as well. What what?

We really should start wishing for alcohol more often

We really should start wishing for alcohol more often

Our lesson here is that clearly Ted should learn to use his cosmic wishing powers on things like cars, fancy vacations and stacks of cash. But we’ll reap the benefits this time around, no worries. Thanks buddy.

But I do admit, that was such a nice gesture by our server. She was honestly one of the best parts about our visit to Frank’s Place. She clearly knew from the start that we were “virgins” to the place, and it was nice of her to make us feel so welcome the whole time. She had a great personality, and you could tell she just 100% loves the place and the people there. Whether it was the table of regulars whose kids and grandkids she probably knows all about the lives of – or the five of us who stumbled in for the first time ever – she treated everyone as if they were lifelong friends and guests in her own home. These things make a difference.

Overall Frank’s is a wonderful little (and I do emphasize little) hidden gem. Our one and only complaint about the place really is the size, but even that didn’t seem to matter once we got settled in. I would recommend trying to go on a night that they don’t have something else going on, although that seems a hearty task based on the posters on the walls advertising upcoming events. We do know that dart night is Wednesday. And apparently they do kareoke on Sundays, although we couldn’t for the life of us figure out physically where in the hell they would set that up. But I’m sure it would be entertaining.

No, we aren't members of the Dart League.

No, we aren’t members of the Dart League.

I apparently didn't get the "grey" memo

I apparently didn’t get the “grey” memo

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: The usual suspects, plus a pretty impressive list of craft beers for such a small place. And did I mention the pumpkin shots? 
Food:
 Good. Everything was obviously made fresh. And get the stuffed pepper balls. Trust us.
Service: Outstanding. Instead of looking at us like outsiders, we were given star treatment. From making sure we had a big enough table to making honest recommendations on menu items, to the free dessert and shots – we were all rather impressed.
Overall: This place is truly a hidden gem. Aside from being super tiny, I’m not sure we really had any complaints about the place. I could definitely see us making a return appearance … or joining the dart team, whatevs.

Next Pick: Steph

Frank's Place on Market on Urbanspoon

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