Frankie's: A Piece of Italian-Americana Right Here in Putney

Local resident Brenda L. Ciardiello gives her top 5 reasons to eat at Frankie's

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Frankie's Express
263 Putney Bridge Road
London SW15 2PU

+44 (0)20 8780 3366
www.frankies-putney.org/

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We were greeted with this image as we walked into Frankie's.
Nice!




This year was technically my 2nd Mother's Day, but it felt like the first because last year I found myself utterly consumed by a newborn who did anything and everything but shower me with cards or flowers. In fact, if I recall correctly, me and the rest of the world were still busy showering him with cards and flowers.

This year was much more me-centered in that regard: Matt and Roman took me to lunch at a local restaurant as my Mother's Day gift. Matt provided the champagne, Roman provided the 2+ hour nap (still in disbelief that this happened) which covered our entire lunch experience and saved us the hassle of high-chairs, bibs, and spilled spaghetti. It was a great meal, but let's face it - the nap was the real Mother's Day gift.

Top 5 Reasons to go to Frankie's
despite the shady-looking exterior


5. The Unabashed Swank.

Matt and I had probably walked by Frankie's hundreds of times since living in Putney but had never gone because the front looks like this:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tSGwcDwPY6M/S-_tvnh5SiI/AAAAAAAAOs8/RORXSdyG3DE/s200/frankie%27s.jpg
blacked-out windows? really?

Not sure who made the call on that being appropriate way to "entice" patrons into the establishment, but at least they were smart enough to make the interior look like this:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tSGwcDwPY6M/S-_03MXcCqI/AAAAAAAAOtE/kUCykaqySTA/s320/DSC00344.JPG
                      really cool but really swanky 


It's a swanky slice of Italian-Americana right here in good old Putney. It's comfortable but cool - special enough that you want to dress up, but you don't really have to, and even if you don't, you still feel like you're one of the cool expensive-lunch crowd types who is just that understated that you don't have to flash bling.

4. Shockingly Enough: Kid Friendly.
By the time we got to Frankie's that fateful Sunday afternoon, I had already said 3 Hail Marys and 4 Our Fathers in hopes that Roman would stay asleep and not cause a riot in the restaurant. It wasn't just because I wanted a civilized lunch - I was downright worried that Frankie's was anything but a "child friendly" establishment from the looks of it. I was very wrong.

Roman didn't wake up until we left the restaurant, plump, pleased and a wee bit tipsy off champagne (us, that is). But if he had woken up, he would have been in good company. Two of the four tables at the restaurant had children - and not quiet sleeping newborns either. Toddlers, who screamed, broke glasses, ran around with checkered napkins tucked into their shirts and stuck to their shoes, and even came over and peeped into Roman's stroller.

Not only were they provided with a children's meal of a smaller size, there were highchairs and booster seats readily available, and the waitstaff was very understanding and helpful. It was no Chuckee Cheez's, but it wasn't stuffy, uncomfortable or inappropriate for kids. I was quietly thankful.

3. Marco Pierre White
He may not be a looker, but Marco Pierre White has the whole "making good food" thing down to an art.  I have, alas, never been to any of his other restaurants, nor have I ever watched Hell's Kitchen. And on top of all that, I think he kind of sounds like he was a real a$$ in his hey-day. But you have to give someone who was once the youngest chef to earn 3 Michelin-stars some respect. He had all or most of the British greats work under him - Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Bryn Williams.

I guess patronizing Frankie's is about as close as I get to showing respect. Besides, if I didn't throw him a bone and he read this blog (ha!) I might end up like that young chef at Harveys, who once complained of heat in the kitchen, and was rumored to have the back of his chef's jacket and trousers cut open by White who was wielding a sharp paring knife.
*For more incredible MPW stories, go here.

2. A très raisonnable Prix Fixe
Part of the charm of Frankie's for me was the simplicity of it. The giant disco balls hanging from the cieling weren't exactly minimalist, but the menu was. I am always both thrilled and thankful for restaurants with simple, concise menus. It makes my choice much easier because in having  to cover all the main options (meat, seafood, pasta, etc) in a smaller number of dishes, there are naturally fewer things I can't decide between, and that is always a blessing for me and my chronic restaurant-indecisiveness.

At Frankie's you pay less than a twenty for either a two or three-course lunch: starter, main and dessert if you have room. The portions are perfect (and not minimalist), and the food is hearty but mod at the same time. The wine list is also fairly concise and unpretentious. Their champagne was excellent and reasonably priced. In London, this is a God-send.

1. The Spaghettini with Lobster.
Yes, LOBSTER. And yes it's on the prix fixe menu. And the supplement is minimal (a quid fifty if I  recall correctly).

This pasta was cooked to perfection. A spicy tomato sauce, spiked with pepperoncino chili and lots of garlic. There was a surprisingly generous amount of lobster meat already mixed in with the pasta (I prefer this as trying to peel and eat Lobster with tomato sauce involved is inevitably ugly). And the portion was fitting of a home-style-ish Italian restaurant, but not overkill.

I am not generally a fan of very thin pastas like spaghettini or angel hair, but this one held its own with the sauce and lobster, and was anything but mushy or slimy. I loved it. And I would  go back just to eat it again.  And again.

 

May 24, 2010