Though it had the bad fortune to open amid a pandemic, the Dublin Bridge Park eatery is well-attuned to carry-out dining
If someone were to create a blueprint to aid future restaurants unfortunate enough to open during a global pandemic, those plans would probably lead to quick-service, low-overhead eateries offering inexpensive, crowd-pleasing fare such as Frank & Carl’s.
Serving since April in the Dublin Bridge Park development, Frank & Carl’s is a locally owned sandwich shop that offers about 20 handheld meals that clock in under $9 each. Because it’s a to-go-oriented operation with counter service, the restaurant only requires a small staff.
The modern, fast-casual spot has limited seating at three picnic-style tables and a second counter adjacent to accordion windows that open wide to the street outside. Subway tiles, an orange-and-white color scheme and walls plastered with photos and quotes from goofy movies (such as “Animal House” and “Old School”) supply upbeat notes to the simple little dining room.
Perusing the selection of well-designed sandwiches can take time. Because the menu is posted on the entry door, though, customers can do their reading outside before stepping in to order.If you already know what you're ordering, feel free to take these few extra minutes in line to sign up for our daily newsletter
After sampling nearly half of Frank & Carl’s solid sandwiches, I think it’d be hard to go wrong with any order. In general, diners can expect hefty, flavorful assemblies made with plenty of good ingredients piled into distinct sub buns or bagels — the plain and “everything” bagels offered are usually steamed until soft and chewy.
I frankly preferred the toasted texture of the exception-to-the-rule oven-cooked bagel (opt for the everything-seasoned one) used in the best value on the menu: the Todd and Margo ($4.50). Named after characters in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” this open-faced pizza-bagel is like the biggest and best version of Bagel Bites that you’ve never had.
The Ma Fratelli ($8.50) highlights more Italian flavors and references “The Goonies,” another cinematic comedy. This strong rendition of an Italian sub combines Frank & Carl’s cut-above cold cuts — here, it’s spicy capicola, semi-smoky pepperoni, zesty salami and ham — with provolone, an oregano-spiked vinaigrette, lettuce, tomato and banana peppers. The glossy sub bun the restaurant nicely toasts provides a crusty package, albeit one with surprising sweetness.
Capicola and pepperoni team up again in a sub with melted smoked cheddar, mustard and giardiniera in the Roger Roger ($7.50). For spicy sandwich fans, it’s all that and a bag of chips — if you add a side of the warm and recommended Everything Bagel Chips served with Frank & Carl’s goes-down-easy house pimiento-cheese dip ($4.50).
Pastrami that resembles brisket rather than highly processed mystery meat elevates My Evie Thing ($7.75). Swiss cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomato, cream cheese and a steamed bagel complete the pleasant ensemble.
Respectable roast beef and a perky chimichurri sauce make great partners in the Tizzlesticks sub ($8.50). Provolone, mayo, lettuce and tomato add contrast and richness to the enjoyable construction.
The Clubber Lang ($8.75) is Frank & Carl’s homage to the club sandwich and the character Mr. T played in “Rocky III.” It’s OK — a bagel with turkey, ham, avocado, cucumber and BLT ingredients — but hardly as memorable as its namesake.
Although somewhat soggy, the Randy Watson ($8.50) is more appealing — and not only because it's named after the flamboyantly awful singer briefly inhabited by Eddie Murphy in his lesser-known role in “Coming to America.” This meat-free flavor-bomb features roasted vegetables — yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and peppers — that are thinly sliced, thickly applied and detonated by a de facto tapenade of crushed kalamata olives, blots of feta cheese and a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette.
The sub is healthful, boldly flavored, filling, inexpensive and ready in minutes. In short, it’s practically designed to help get you through this worrisome pandemic. Here, I might also note that Frank & Carl’s is planning to install four beer taps ASAP.