Fran's Restaurant

Fran’s is a greasy spoon diner that has been around since 1940 (so their menu cover says) and some would consider it an “institution” in the Toronto food scene. I, myself, can look back and fondly recall many late night meals after a concert or play in the comfy booths. So when the boyfriend and I had tickets to see a show close to Fran’s, I was excited to take a bite out of nostalgia. 

It was about seven o’clock when we walked in, and the restaurant seemed fairly empty save a couple tables here and there. The decor is as kitschy as I remember, with mint green and checkered patterns everywhere. We were seated at a small table near the back of the restaurant and were handed our menus. Seeing as it wasn’t overly busy, I asked if we could move to one of the bigger booths along the wall, which seemed to confuse our hostess. She said she would have to check since it was in another server’s section, and came back shortly after to tell us the booths were reserved for groups of three or more. A quick glance at the few occupied booths and I saw that there was two or even one person in each, but I didn’t question it. No word of a lie, about five minutes later, a couple was seated at the booth directly across from us, followed by another couple at a booth behind them. I admit I was annoyed. Extremely annoyed, in fact. I wouldn’t have minded if she came back and said that she didn’t want to move us out of our server’s section to “even” the patrons out among servers, but no, she blatantly lied about it. I can’t stand people who lie. 

Taking my focus off my irritation, I turned my attention to the extensive menu. Being open 24/7/365 means the benefit of all day breakfast, which the boyfriend took full advantage of when he ordered the Corned Beef Hash with whole wheat toast and eggs over hard (his fave). The dish itself was typical breakfast fare. The corned beef had a lot of flavour and wasn’t greasy, and the potatoes were hot and crispy. The toast was dry, but the most disappointing where the eggs because they were undercooked and cold. 
Though my love for breakfast food is strong, I always get excited when I see a Reuben sandwich on a menu. There is something so delicious about grilled rye bread that makes me weak in the knees, and I had to order it when I saw it. I decided to get the tortilla chips and salsa as my side instead of fries, and was pleasantly surprised at the portion that came with the sandwich. The pretty colours of the lightly salted chips and the bright red salsa were aesthetically pleasing when our server placed the plate in front of me. The chips themselves unfortunately, were stale, and rather than being a light crisp, were a little chewy. The salsa tasted no different than the jarred salsa you can buy in the grocery store. However, I do appreciate the option for people who don’t want fries or salad.
The sandwich itself was also disappointing because it was toasted, not grilled like I was expecting. The fact that it was a triple decker seemed unnecessary because the addition of the third piece of bread didn’t do much to enhance the flavour. That being said, my biggest complaint was the amount of sauerkraut on the sandwich, or more accurately, the lack of sauerkraut. If you’re going to put so little on the sandwich, it’s just a tease. Why put it on at all??
Overall, this was a pretty disappointing visit. For the price of the meal (it was over $30 after tax and tip) we could have had much better fare somewhere else. I think Fran’s is one of those places that remain popular because people have been coming for years, and it’s something they are comfortable with. I too, was looking to reminisce of days gone by, but when really examining it, it’s not the Fran’s I remember. Some places are better left in memories past. 

Frans Restaurant on Restaurantica
Fran's on Urbanspoon
Fran’s Restaurant
200 Victoria St (Victoria & Shuter), Toronto, Ontario


Mike said...
April 11, 2011 at 9:14 PM

Great review. It's a shame about the experience and the food. My last trip to fran's wasn't so bad, but I went for the company more than the food.

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