SOUTH BERWICK — It seems like there’s a new restaurant opening every month in this town. One of the newest is Lee Frank’s, a burger joint housed in a bright yellow building at the corner of Main and Portland streets. It opened in February in a space formerly occupied by Madison’s Cafe and a few other restaurants in recent years. It’s next door to the Odd Fellows Tavern, another newly opened restaurant in a familiar space.
The burgers and dogs at Lee Frank’s are available for dining in or taking out. We opted for takeout on a nice spring evening, and everyone in our house loved our meals – 12-year-old Luke so much so, he suggested we make it our routine. “That food was so good,” he said, chomping every bite of his cheeseburger and all but the crumbs of his fries, and downing every drop of a rich chocolate shake. “We should get it once a week.”
Perhaps we will.
Lee Frank’s is a classic North American burger joint, with a simple menu that includes variations of burgers, hot dogs and fries, all served with the option of thick California chili (no beans, no tomatoes), a nod to the roots of its owner, who also painted the interior blue in honor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball’s reigning World Series champions.
These are smash burgers, balls of beef smashed flat on a grill and allowed to sizzle. They come in singles and doubles, with the options of cheese and chili, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and all the usual condiments. The hot dogs are a bit more complicated. There’s a basic dog, chili dog and chili cheese dog, and you can order the New York dog, with sauerkraut and brown mustard; the Chicago dog, with yellow mustard, onions, tomato, relish and celery salt; and the Red Baron, served with red cabbage and brown mustard.
The sides are limited to fries, chili fries, chili cheese fries, onion rings and a salad.
Simple menu, done well.
We ordered a bag full of food – a double cheeseburger, loaded ($7.50); a Chicago dog ($3.50); and a plain cheeseburger ($5.25). We also ordered chili cheese fries ($5) and a plain order of fries ($3), and Luke and I each ordered a chocolate shake ($4.50).
We could not have loved the burgers more. They were cooked medium with crispy edges and drippy, melted cheese – and not at all greasy. It was exactly what I think of when I think of a classic burger. My wife Vicki’s dog was OK. The tomatoes were a bit overwhelming, and the hot dog roll did not hold up well.
The plain crinkle fries were exceptional because they were crisp and salty, whereas the chili cheese fries came out a bit mushy. We didn’t love them, and in fact didn’t finish them. But that could have been because we ate every other morsel.
Lee Frank’s was busy for a Tuesday night. I ordered by phone at 6:20 p.m. and was told my food would be ready in 10 minutes. My order was waiting when I arrived less than 15 minutes later. At that time, there was a table of four already seated, a couple had just placed their order at the counter and taken their seats, and a single person was in the process of ordering food to-go. By the time I left, food in hand – at 6:38, a mere 18 minutes after placing my order – another order came in by phone.
Perhaps the churn of establishments that have opened and closed in this spot will end with Lee Frank’s.