An antelope, a rabbit and a pig walk into a bar…

The Notorious P.I.G at Frank in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas – Just eat it.

I’ll say these words often in the next few years. My son recently turned two. My daughter still has a few more months of sucking down formula. At the moment, they have very little say in what they eat. But the day will come when they will demand input into their dining options. What am I going to say?

Just eat it.

I may not always win, but “Just eat it” will be my default mode, because I don’t want my kids to be That Kid. I was That Kid. When my mom sent me over to a friend’s house, I came armed with a banned-food list in my head. No onions. No tomatoes. No mayo. No eggs. No mushrooms. I wasn’t allergic to any of these things. I was a spoiled brat. I’m sure my friends’ parents secretly despised me for disrupting their menus, but I blissfully ate mayo-free burgers or tomato chunk-free spaghetti sauce – tomato sauce was OK, just not actual tomatoes; I was a weird kid – while they silently stewed.

Hopefully, my kids will heed my words. Because sometimes when you turn off your brain, open your mouth and chew, something amazing happens. Something amazing like The Notorious P.I.G at Frank in downtown Austin.

Young Andy liked all of the following things: Pork sausage, bacon, barbecue sauce and macaroni and cheese. But young Andy’s plate looked like a map of Korea. Entrée and side dishes were separated by a clearly delineated demilitarized zone typically marked by some condiment river. Even though it is the king of side dishes, young Andy never would have allowed his mac and cheese to cross the 38th Parallel to his sausage.

But last week, after a long day that began in Michigan and ended in Texas, I didn’t want to fight my food. I wanted to eat. I had been meaning to try Frank for a year or so. It’s two blocks from the hotel where I usually stay when I visit Austin. So when I arrived – I had learned while on the runway in Detroit that the event I was to cover in Austin the next day had been canceled – I resolved that a purveyor of artisan sausage and waffle fries would provide the perfect end to an imperfect day. I dumped my rental car in the hotel parking garage, left my luggage in the trunk and sprinted to Frank praying that I would make it before the place switched to what the internet had told me was the more pedestrian late-night menu at 10 p.m.

I arrived at 9:55, but the late-night menus had already emerged. Luckily, the Frank web site sells short the treats available to the night owls. Not on the web version – but on the actual version – were the exact two dishes I wanted to try: The Notorious P.I.G and the Jackalope. I ordered without even looking at the menu. The name intrigued me, and anyone who reads my college football coverage knows I’m obsessed with intriguing monikers.

A few minutes later, my kindly hipster bartender placed before me a dish that would have horrified young Andy. Sausage made with ground pork, ground bacon – yes, I know that’s a kind of pork – rode in a bun and snuggled under a blanket of mac and cheese and barbecue sauce. I’m older and wiser now, though. Plus, I was too tired to protest. I bit down, and every Fourth of July party I ever attended exploded on my tastebuds. The tang of the sausage and barbecue sauce remained tethered to the earth by the heft of the mac and cheese. Less than a minute later, I stared at an empty basket and wished there was some sort of Tupac-themed counterpart for the Piggie Smalls. Alas, there was not. But there was the Jackalope.

The Jackalope combines antelope rabbit and pork sausage, huckleberry compote, sriracha aioli and cheddar. I could envision a marriage of animal-product sausage and sriracha aioli, but the idea of adding huckleberry compote created a threesome that might cause even the most adventurous food swinger to bolt Frank’s culinary key party.

Just eat it.

That’s the only advice I can offer. The sausage is sublime, and the sweetness of the compote soothes the anger of the sriracha just so. Soak it up with waffle fries, and wash it down with a pint of stout. Then loosen your belt, sit back and celebrate your part in helping Frank negotiate an edible peace treaty.

Pre-meal workout: None, unless you count sprinting the length of a terminal at DTW to make a plane that is about to have its boarding door closed. (Which I do.)

The Jackalope, which features "local antelope." Got to watch out for those foreign antelopes.

-30-

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About Andy Staples

Eating anything that doesn't eat me first.
This entry was posted in Late night, Side Dishes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to An antelope, a rabbit and a pig walk into a bar…

  1. AA says:

    You are beginning to sound like Homer Simpson when he served as a food reviewer for the Springfield Shopper. Everything was “7 thumbs up” For your edification, some restaurants have to be bad for your reviews to have merit.

    • Andy Staples says:

      This is more of a travelogue than a review site. I eat plenty of bad food. But you don’t want to read about bad food. I’d rather celebrate someone who does something well than tear down somebody’s business. But if there is a famous place that has slipped or a trendy place that just plain sucks, I’ll write the truth.

      • Andy – I appreciated your comment as much as your review. When I previously wrote about music, I felt the same way. Why spend a lot of time writing about the bad stuff? I’d rather have someone recommend their favorite spots, or albums, for that matter. Thanks for writing about another place I must try in Austin.

  2. AA says:

    Sorry if I offended you. I’m a big fan of CFB and BBQ, just like you. Proud father of 4 and public educator as well. If you are ever in North JErsey and want to review Italian food, try Frank Anthony’s (in Verona) or E&V (in Paterson). All the best
    AA

  3. hal says:

    Keep these coming! And as far as positive / negative balance, I don’t need anyone to point out crappy restaurants, I can find those on my own.

  4. Mark says:

    Was looking for someplace to eat with family for a back to school meal and went based on your reco. Was not disappointed.

  5. Joe says:

    ON the road to diabetes and high blood pressure….

  6. Joe Boo says:

    Yep…I’ve heard those guys in Austin are real connoisseurs of sausage

  7. Evan says:

    Sounds great. If ever in Denver covering the Buffs (just laughed a little myself) head to Biker Jims. He has a sausage cart on 16th and Arapahoe and a brick & mortar on 22nd and Larimer near Coors Field, in the Five Points neighborhood. The rattlesnake pheasant sausage with onions sauteed in Coke, cream cheese, and tomato jam is top notch–good sweet-spicy balance, kind of earth, and extremely lean (which is countered by the rich cream cheese.)

  8. Geoff Peveto says:

    That may be the best review anyone has written about us. Two of the owners are diehard OU and UT fans respectively so we also happen to read your SI column religiously. Gonna be an interesting CFB year. Thanks Andy!

    • Andy Staples says:

      OU and Texas fans — and you still manage to work together? Cats and dogs living together. Antelope and rabbit in the same sausage. What is this world coming to?

      • Geoff Peveto says:

        Sausage fans can thank an OU – UT game about 6 years ago for us meeting and realizing we all loved hot dogs and cold beer even if we hated each other’s team.

  9. Andy, thanks for a great review of a place I don’t get to nearly often enough. And Geoff, thanks for HAVING a great place I don’t get to nearly often enough.

    BTW, Andy, next time you rush to Austin to cover a story that falls through while you’re in the air, the first round’s on me. (If you haven’t tried the (512) Pecan Porter, it’s outstanding.)

  10. Pingback: A bacon-infused meal at Frank in Austin, Texas | Extra Mustard - SI.com

  11. Pingback: Heaven Is A Buffet: One Night In Bacon | Texas News Feed

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