PLAINFIELD – Last year, Marcus Mooney, owner of Frank’s Night Out in Plainfield, added crickets and scorpions to the tops of hot dogs and sold them as specials.
They sold out in three hours.
So Mooney brought those dogs back this year for the month of October. By Oct. 9, Mooney had sold about 20 Signature Scorpion Dogs. He also sells Zombie Dogs. Both are topped with edible bugs.
The trick, Mooney said, is adding the intimidating food item to a common hot dog.
“People will try them because it’s on something that’s familiar,” Mooney said. “It’s for shock and it’s for fun for Halloween.”
The Scorpion Dog starts with a bacon-wrapped hot dog. It’s then topped with habenero-jack cheese, spicy mac and cheese with scorpion pepper powder, breaded and battered jalepenos and the scorpion.
Strange? Well, Mooney – in his travels – has eaten both crickets and scorpion.
“I actually took a trip to Mexico, and in Mexico they have grasshoppers – roasted grasshoppers – in tacos,” Mooney said.
Placing bug-topped hot dogs on the menu around Halloween isn’t just for shock value. Mooney feels they enhance the taste of the hot dogs.
“Definitely you’re going to get a lot of texture out of it,” Mooney said. “If you can get beyond the thought of it, they’re really good. It’s a very light nutty flavor.”
Mooney said the crickets that top the Zombie Dog have a similar “light, nutty flavor.” But that dog isn’t just covered with bugs. The Zombie Dog also has basil aioli, coleslaw – and breaded calves’ brains.
The calves’ brain is sliced on-site and breaded in panko bread crumbs. Mooney said it has a creamy texture, somewhat like a pâté.
While the brains are prepared on-site, the bugs are not, Mooney said. They come to the Plainfield restaurant from Thailand, where they are roasted and canned. They are prepared much like a nut would be.
Most of the customers for these dogs are men. Last year, Mooney said, only two women tried them. However, women are asking about the Death Valley Burger, which Mooney soon will add to the menu.
The Death Valley Burger begins with the meat from a pork, rabbit and rattlesnake sausage to which beef is added. The burger is then topped with jalepenos, spicy aioli, onion rings and sauteed cactus. The burger is served on a pretzel bun.
If that doesn’t awaken the taste buds, there’s always the Hannibal Lecter Burger – a traditional beef burger topped with calves’ brains, a Chianti reduction and fava beans.
Mooney opened Frank’s Night Out in 2013 after being inspired by an amazing hot dog sold from a cart on a trip to Germany. But his culinary talents are not limited to shock on a bun.
“I’ve been a chef for over 20 years,” Mooney said. “Right now, I am the corporate chef for Tommy Nevins.”
In addition to the Halloween specials, Frank’s Night Out will be adding about a dozen new items to its menu starting Nov. 1. One is a Lobster Burger, which includes a house-made salmon mousse into which is folded lobster meat and shrimp.
The Lobster Burger will be topped with avocado, Asian-inspired cucumber coleslaw, unagi sauce and sriracha mayo.
ON THE MENU
Here are some of the ghoulish items Frank’s Night Out is offering in October:
• Signature Scorpion Dog – bacon-wrapped dog, habanero-jack cheese, scorpion pepper, macaroni and cheese, battered jalapenos, crispy armor tail scorpion: $12.99
• The Zombie Dog – crispy fried calf’s brains, crispy crickets, basil aioli, creamy coleslaw: $8.99
• The Conjuring – bacon-wrapped dog, ghost pepper pimiento cheese, chili, jalapenos: $7.99
• Pit of Vipers Burger – 1/3-pound rattlesnake, jack rabbit and beef burger, spicy mayo, habanero-jack cheese, frizzled onions, macaroni and cheese, garlic pretzel bun: $12.99
• Walking Dead Taco Dog – spicy habanero Doritos, chorizo, hot sauce, pico, pickled pig skins, cucumbers, lettuce, cheddar cheese and a hot dog wrapped in a flour tortilla: $8.99
• The Sacrificial Dog – ghost pepper pimiento cheese, stuffed chicken-fried hot dog topped with crispy chicken gizzards, coleslaw, mustard: $7.99
• Vampires Lust Burger – burger patty, blood sausage, fried Brussels sprouts, sweet and sour apple kraut, spicy mustard: $7.99
• Hannibal Lecter Burger – burger patty, crispy fried calf’s brains, raw onions, Jersey relish, sliced tomatoes: $9.99
• The Screamer Dog – tortilla-wrapped dog, spicy verde stewed tongue, queso frecso, onions, jalapenos, cilantro: $8.99
• Lord of the Pig – bacon-wrapped dog, spicy stewed pork rinds, barbecue pulled pork, coleslaw, cheddar cheese, crispy pork cracklings: $9.99
To follow the new menu announcements and upcoming specials, follow Frank’s Night Out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/franksnightout.