There’s something to be said for doing one thing really well. The hot dogs served at Roxbury food truck Speed’s have been called the best in America. Downtown Crossing’s Chacarero sells its namesake Chilean sandwich and not much else for a reason: that sandwich rocks hard. Franky N the Boys, a new cash-only Brookline Village storefront, serves only simple burgers, fries, shakes, and sodas. The short-menu strategy inevitably begs the question: is your specialization extraordinary? The answer at Franky’s is a qualified yes.
The hamburger ($3.99) is a stripped-down thing clearly meant to evoke ’50s nostalgia. The patty here is a thin four ounces of Angus beef griddle-cooked to barely medium, served on a too-soft bun with good unshredded green-leaf lettuce, a thin tomato slice, and a mayo-like dressing. The cheeseburger ($4.99) gives you American. French fries ($2.99), served in a cardboard carton, are dark, skin-on, and well-seasoned, but also undercooked and limp. The milkshake ($3.99) is a solid hit: lots of Hood Premium ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry) and whole milk mixed with a stick blender, a reminder of how old-school recipes can be terrific.
Options beyond these are few: Franky’s babe ($5.99), with minced onion mixed into the patty; the baldy ($3.99; no toppings); veggie bun ($3.99; subtracts the meat patty); and protein burger ($3.99; wrapped in lettuce, no bun). Add-ons include an additional patty ($1) and toppings of onion, pickles, and extra tomato (45 cents each). Canned sodas and bottled water are $1.75. Combo meals are a better deal: $6.99 for a hamburger, fries, and drink versus $9.73 à la carte. A corner station has self-serve condiments: ketchup, yellow mustard, vinegars (no malt), and dry spices.
I find Franky’s concept appealing, and I understand how no freezing or microwaving means a shorter menu and longer prep times. I don’t mind the tritely retro décor of repro vintage Coca-Cola ads and logos everywhere. Families with kids are already flocking to the bright, clean 20-seat room, no doubt grateful for a fresher, healthier alternative to McDonald’s. But at the prices it charges (more than $13 for a double cheeseburger with pickles, fries, and a shake), Franky needs some crucial upgrades — crisper fries, better rolls, more toppings and condiments, perhaps a real vegetarian patty — if it is to become one of those one-hit wonders that grownups want to revisit again and again.
Franky N the Boys, located at 284 Washington Street, in Brookline, is open Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 am to 10 pm, and on Sundays, from noon to 9:30 pm. Call 617.739.7371.