There are lots of things I like about Frank & Steins, a new eatery and pub in what may be one of the worst locations in downtown Orlando -- on the Magnolia Avenue side of the Plaza building, a block away from the bustle of Orange Avenue.
The name, as you might imagine, has nothing to do with Mary Shelley’s hapless doctor but rather is an indication of what is served here: hot dogs, also known as frankfurters or franks, and beer, some of which is served in steins. Wine is also available, so you could call it Frank & Stems if you like. There isn’t a full liquor bar, so Frank & Highballs is out, and besides, Frank is sensitive about that.
F&S is among the several newish places that specialize in presenting an array of craft beers on tap. An impressive array of taps lines the back of the bar, and there is a tippler’s tome of a beer list to help you make a choice.
I really like that the list has a legend to help you decide what you want to drink. Besides separating the brews by style -- ales, stouts and such -- the list includes the name, where it was made, the alcohol content, size of serving and price. And then it has icons that indicate the beer’s characteristics: a muscleman to indicate it’s strong, a feather for light, scales for balanced and so forth. Some have an image of a rabbit to indicate it is hoppy. Cute.
I also like that the food menu gives suggested brews to pair with the hot dogs, just as a fine restaurant might recommend which wine to have with the chateaubriand. It may just be a gimmick but it makes the meal a little more fun.
What I didn’t like was that the suggested brew to go with my F&S chili cheese frank, the Lagunitas IPA, was not available. (I’m beginning to notice this a lot, that some of the taps at these multi-tap taprooms often are, well, tapped out. Anyone else notice that?)
I chose another beer from the list, something that maybe didn’t have quite the nuanced notes to match to the weenie, but one that was just fine. The dog itself was OK; nothing to get all worked up over. It was not what I would call big enough to be filling, and it took only a small amount of chili to cover it. And at $3.99 I have to think that there’s a pretty good profit in frankfurters.
Frank & Steins ambience is, appropriately enough, like a beer hall and features various games, such as billiards, Skee-ball and a tabletop shuffleboard. It has a nice, homey feel to it. Plenty of televisions, too, for sports viewing or maybe old movies featuring villagers with pitchforks and torches.
I worry about the location. You have to know where it is and make an effort to get to it, because it isn’t likely you’ll just be passing by, whether by foot or by vehicle, and notice it. As for parking, your best bet is probably the Plaza garage, which can be irritating to maneuver. You might luck out with a metered space (free after 6 p.m. of course) on Rosalind, or avail yourself of one of the pop-up lots that rent space for five bucks for the evening.
Frank & Steins is at 150 S. Magnolia Ave., on the corner of Church Street, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily and late night until 2:30 a.m. Here is a link to the website. (The website says a neighborhood pub has been missing from downtown Orlando, “But alas, we’ve arrived.” Not what I think they meant to say.) The phone number is 407-412-9230.