Frankie's Cafe: Feel Like a Regular Even When You're Not
This week food writer Clara Park reviews Frankie's Cafe in Havertown.
I love going into a place where I am a regular.
When the bartender starts filling a glass with Stella as soon as he sees me, when the server knows to not fill my coffee and mess up my perfect milk and sugar balance unless I specifically ask or when the dessert is free (NB: I don’t accept anything for free when I review a place and in places I frequent enough to warrant free dessert, I have literally already spent hundreds of dollars over a period of months or years so it’s not really “free” if you think about it that way).
I am not a regular at Frankie’s Café in Havertown and have only been there once but I felt like a regular when I left.
It was fairly empty when I arrived and I grabbed a seat at the bar (although the upstairs dining room is much better lit (tons of sunlight) and has fully set tables and chairs). I ordered a pint of Rolling Rock ($1.50, everyday special) and looked at the menu. What’s good?
I asked the bartender and owner in front of me. The chicken cutlet Italiano (fried cutlet topped with sautéed broccoli rabe and melted provolone cheese, $9.99) and the hot roast pork sandwich (herb roasted white marple pork thinly sliced and served in our homemade gravy with melted provolone cheese, $8.99). All sandwiches come with fries and you can add a soup or side salad for $3.
I went with the pork sandwich because it’s harder to find than a fried chicken cutlet sandwich. It arrived hot and toasty on the outside. I took a big bite and could hear the crust shattering into tiny pieces against my teeth.
Once I broke through the delicate shell, I was overwhelmed by succulent pork and rich gravy. It was savory, tender and comforting all at once. I didn’t need to add any salt or pepper and it was the perfect temperature (I hate it when hot food arrives cold). The pork was evenly distributed so I didn’t end up with a big piece of bread at the end with a tiny shred of meat in it. If I were to do it again, I would add on the sauteed broccoli rabe ($1.99).
Elsewhere on the menu there are old-fashioned favorites like clams casino ($7.99), Caesar salad ($7.99) and shrimp scampi ($15.99). More modern items including fried buffalo chicken tender ($8.99), Cajun spiced blackened chicken ($12.99) and herb-baked tilapia ($15.99) are also available.
There is a full bar and be sure to look out for drink specials (one of the regulars there didn’t even know about the Rolling Rock specials since it’s fairly recent). Wednesdays through Sundays you can BYOW (bring your own wine) but that is in the upstairs dining room only. If you’re looking for soft drinks they do have sodas and juices as well.
The décor in the bar is heavily TV dominated (I think there are six gorgeous flat screen TVs which were showing soap operas, the Phillies game, infomercials and I think the news. Basically, anything you might want to watch in the middle of the day. When I went in I sat down and was immediately introduced to Paul (I assume he’s the owner) and Chris (the bartender) by Paul.
As I was eating, some of the regulars shuffled in and grabbed a cold pint at the bar. I don’t know exactly how but by the end we were all talking about food, restaurants, Internet business, new media marketing strategy and more.
I had a great lunch there not only because the sandwich was killer but also because the atmosphere was so friendly and welcoming. How many places can boast such a list of attributes?
The only thing that stinks is the parking situation. It’s pretty dicey. You may have to get creative, just don't break any laws!