The art of the perfect frank

The atmosphere at Bold Bite is fun and just a touch edgy. The walls are sunshine-yellow, the décor red. Smiley faces on the menu denote items made with all-natural ingredients.

Besides the “naked dog,” a traditional steamed red-hot with standard toppings, and the D.C. half-smoke, Bold Bites, at 4901-B Fairmont Ave., offers a variety of specialty hot dogs and “show dog” sausages. The show dogs come with sauces made in-house.

“In terms of favorites, I love the Bold, because that’s exactly what I was eating in the streets of Venezuela growing up,” Roche said. 

The Bold is an Applegate all-natural beef frank with diced onions, shredded cabbage, crunchy potato sticks, ketchup, mayo and mustard on a steamed bun. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, consider The Bold BLT, New York or Chicago-style dog.

Though The Bold and the New York dogs are both made with an all-natural Applegate frank, they’re not to be confused. The all-natural Big Apple’s lamb casing differentiates it from The Bold’s all-beef frank, manager Jordan Almeida said.

Part of Roche’s vision is to help people recreate hot dogs like the ones they remember enjoying in their youth. Besides Bold Bite’s “built by us” dogs, you can BYOB — build your own bite — by choosing your own bun, frank and topping. For those who tend to be crippled by indecision, be prepared to spend awhile looking at the menu. Options abound for creating your perfect dog.

“We provide our customers with all their toppings, so they can build their childhood dog,” Roche said.

The Chicago-style dog, made to this wary eater’s liking ­– which meant without the signature onions, relish and peppers — was fresh and still full of flavor.

For sausage lovers, Bold Bite offers more than traditional sausage and bratwurst. Aficionados can indulge in the spicy chorizo, choripan, butifarra or merguez. Almeida describes the merguez, a North African dish, as “not very gamey,” a combination of beef and lamb.

Build your own dog or opt for a show dog, and you get the added advantage of the house-made sauces — cilantro lime, mustard whip, chimichurri, truffle whip or yogurt mint sauce, depending on which sausage you order.

The emphasis is on quality. The franks are all steamed, except the half-smoke and sausages, which are grilled. From the beginning, Roche said, he wanted to make everything fresh and natural. Bold Bite’s sausages come from a local distributor that makes the sausages specially for the eatery, and most sausages and franks are all-natural, containing no preservatives or nitrates.

Roche said that after living in Spain for two years to teach cooking, he moved back to the U.S. and started talking with Alvaro about opening a restaurant. The brothers nixed the idea of a hamburger joint and realized there was a need in the market for hot dogs.

“I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind: Why not hot dogs?” Roche said.

From there, the idea evolved to include sausages, and Alonso and Alvaro traveled all over the country to research unique combinations.

Even though the spotlight is on the dogs, Roche describes himself as a “stickler” when it comes to fries. He said he wouldn’t think of using frozen fries at Bold Bite. The fries are made Belgian-style.

“The difference, when you make your own fries, if you do it right, is amazing,” he said.

The hand-cut fries are cooked in trans-fat-free oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Like the dogs, patrons can build their ideal fries by choosing their own dipping sauce and sprinkles from Bold Bite’s unique selection.

The cilantro lime dipping sauce provides a sharp, zesty flavor without overwhelming the taste buds. The Belgian-style of cooking and sea salt seasoning give these fries a fresher, fuller taste than your typical fast-food fare. The regular order is huge, so it might be wise for the faint of appetite to order a kid’s size.

Located at the former site of a Ben & Jerry’s franchise, perhaps Bold Bite’s delicious ice cream sandwiches are a reflection of its predecessor. The dough is baked and the sandwiches wrapped on location, Roche said, though they are purchased from an outside vendor.

Roche said he couldn’t be happier with the feedback he’s been getting from customers in the three and a half months Bold Bites has been open.

One customer’s praise stood out in his mind.

The man almost had tears in his eyes because he had been in search of the perfect Chicago dog, Roche said. After experiencing Bold Bite’s version, the man told Roche that he called his mom to tell her it was the best Chicago dog he’d had in ages.