The Franklin Cafe South End

Monday night was Charlie’s 17th birthday. I hadn’t done a lot of research, but have always heard good things about The Franklin Cafe and I know lots of people who rave about their Gloucester location. The South End version is located on Shawmut Avenue in this very understated building. The Franklin Cafe is small and warm inside with an energetic vibe. There is a large bar and maybe ten booths and they don’t take reservations. We had the whole family there which was great since that hasn’t happened since early January and it gave us a chance to catch up.

Here’s what we thought of the food:

Charlie had the Classic Steak Frites with port demi glace and roquefort butter. He ordered the steak medium and it came to the table still mooing. When he sent it back and asked for medium it was again returned too rare. This did give him the opportunity to stack up a couple of the Roquefort Butter patties on the side of his plate which the waiter suggested that he might be able to sell later on eBay. One point for the waiter – I thought that was pretty funny.

Gary and I split the Tuna Tartare (an appetizer)  which came with very thin pita chips and frisee salad. This was delicious and probably the best thing that I tasted. Gary had the Oyster Mushroom Ravioli with sage brown butter. The ravioli was really tough and chewy – not good. I had the Southern Fried Chicken with homemade lime pickles, mashed potato and gravy. The lime pickles were great with this. The chicken tasted very decadent, but when I looked at the leftovers in the light of day (The Franklin Cafe is pretty dark inside), the chicken was also undercooked. I am okay with rare beef, but not chicken – gross.

Graham had the House Made Farfalle which was the one thing that the waiter said that he did not recommend. Graham loved it, but he is pretty easy to please when it comes to pasta.

Lauren had the Tomato, Humus and Lentil Brucetta. Charlie commented that if she wanted a tomato she could have just sliced one up at home. I guess he wasn’t impressed and neither was Lauren.  As her entrée, Lauren had the Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Plums which she describes as “flavorless and dry”.  Okay – this was not a big hit with Lauren.

Here comes the really hard part… if you are really sentimental, you just may want to skip over the next few sentences. When I snuck out of the booth to ask the waiter to stick a candle in a dessert so that we could sing Happy Birthday to Charlie,  he informed me that they have no dessert…WHAT???? No Dessert??? This was really disappointing, but we were able to head down the street to The Buttery where they have delicious cookies and gigantic cupcakes so all was not lost.

Once home I did a little research and I think that The Franklin Cafe has been there awhile and does have a very loyal following. It especially appeals to late night diners which includes a lot of the folks who work in the many restaurants in the South End. The Franklin is one of the few restaurants that serve dinner after 11:00 pm. One last thing, the fact that they  wanted to turn our table over asap was just too obvious. I felt that they were rushing us out the door from the moment we arrived. They rushed us to order and before Charlie got his second attempt at the steak back, the wait staff was asking if they could clear our plates. I really don’t like that. So I guess all and all, this means that I owe Charlie another birthday dinner. Sounds good to me!

Bon Appetit,

Robin and Lauren


Filed under Boston restaurant reviews, restaurant reviews

8 responses to “The Franklin Cafe South End

  1. Catherine Steinhoff

    Too bad..Happy Birthday to Charlie!

  2. Megan Shaughnessy

    I’m not a fan of the one in Gloucester, so I never ventured to the one in my hood.
    But, if you keep coming literally 2 blocks from my house and never say hi, i’m going to start getting mad!!!!!

  3. Diane Kaneb

    Happy belated birthday to Charlie!! It sounds like Charlie might have preferred Luke’s 17th birthday dinner the day before….steak also, at Luke’s request, that I managed to singe on the grill. It sounds like neither boy got the “medium” they had hoped for! (I will forever have a vivid memory of our now 6′ boys swaddled side by side in the nursery of Beverly Hospital just hours after they were born. How nice to have a buddy from birth!) I redeemed my ineptitude on the grilling with a Betty Crocker Funfetti cake, also Luke’s request, which would have been tough to botch. Anyway, raw chicken and beef and flavorless bruchetta and pasta at the Franklin sound good to me by comparison!

    Robin, as we head into this graduation time of year, could you share your short list of favorite restaurants on the north shore? I’m hoping to rescue my extended family from burned steak!

  4. Mmmmm, might skip that one. NO DESSERT? I am not crazy about the Gloucester one either. Thanks for the scoop/poop.

  5. Cliff Ageloff

    I believe there is newer, local ownership of the Gloucester “Franklin” and it is now independent of the South End eatery of the same brand name.

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