Frankie’s at Forde

  • Tasty café food
  • Family friendly
  • Have separate gluten free fryer but listed oats as gluten free
  • Quite expensive

Michael and I used to go to Frankie’s regularly. It was close to home, convenient and while the coffee was a bit hit and miss, the food was acceptable (we did get hard poached eggs occasionally). Over the last 12 months though, we stopped going. The menus became a bit boring and the prices kept crawling up.

In all honesty, I wasn’t keen to return to Frankie’s when my friend suggested brunch there but decided it would be an opportunity to try the new menu and write up a review!  Before going, I had a look online at the breakfast menu. It looked promising but I was still a bit dismayed by the prices, particularly the additional $4 for gluten free bread.
Frankie’s is open all day and into the night. It’s bright and friendly during the day, a pleasant spot for brunch and lunch with the family. Behind the bar, the specials were

The view from my seat

displayed on a blackboard and there’s a glass cabinet with cakes in next to the coffee station. They had a couple of gluten free brownies and caramel slices but unfortunately these were placed underneath the gluten-filled cakes, risking gluten crumbs falling on them and cross contamination. Painted on the bar are some nice pictures of the bush and Francis Forde, the name-sake of the cafe. There’s a long, wooden share table down one side of the room and smaller tables dotted around. There’s also seating outside the front of the café, and a closed off seating area in private courtyard accessed from inside– the front seating is particularly good for people watching!

I arrived at 9.30am and within 15 minutes it was heaving. We were lucky to get there before the masses arrived as we would’ve missed any tables. We sat at one end of the long share table, nearest to the doors to the private courtyard. This made it a tiny bit cold for the two children but it wasn’t unpleasant.

After having a look over the menu, I found myself with a couple of questions about the food so I stopped a staff member on their way past. He was very friendly and helpful, however some of the information he provided was incorrect. I told the staff member I was coeliac and that I had a few questions about the menu. Firstly, I wanted to clarify what was in the granola which accompanied the baked yoghurt and was marked as gluten free on the menu. He went to the kitchen to check but when he listed the ingredients, he stated there were oats in the granola. Oats are not considered gluten free by Coeliac Australia and are to be avoided. I questioned him further and he stated they were gluten free oats. When I told him that oats were not considered gluten free, he was very professional and gracious but the damage was done for me and I was questioning whether I would get truly gluten free food and what the risk of cross contamination would be like.

Having dismissed the baked yoghurt, I asked about the eggs benedict. He confirmed the bread and hash browns were gluten free, and that there was a specific gluten free fryer for the hash browns to be cooked separately. He also confirmed that the zucchini and quinoa fritters were also cooked separately to avoid cross contamination.

Baby chino

I made my decision and ordered the eggs benedict with ham and a regular decaf flat white at the bar. This came to $25.50. The bar staff confirmed my dietary requirements would be passed onto the kitchen. My friend ordered the choc chip hotcakes (not gluten free) and a soy mocha for herself, and a baby chino for her little girl.

The coffee took a while to come and was stronger than I like but it was quite a nice, smooth cup of coffee. The food took a little while, but considering how busy they were this wasn’t a problem. The hotcakes looked good, and my friend said they were light and fluffy. They came with a coffee cream which was delicious and was well balanced, however the bacon was overcooked, it was hard and dry.

Choc Chip Hotcakes

My eggs benedict was delicious. There was a generous amount of hollandaise which was creamy but acidic enough to have some bite. The eggs were nicely poached with bright, runny yolks and the ham was salty and didn’t have any gross fatty bits. The best part was the hash brown, which was crispy and satisfying. The only criticism was there was only one slice of the $4 bread. The bread was ok, but once it was covered in egg yolk, hollandaise, ham and hash brown you couldn’t really tell it was there!

Eggs Benedict with Ham

We weren’t in any rush so I ordered a second coffee. This one came out much faster and was still good. The staff member cleared the table, and checked how the food was. He also provided the lunch and dinner menus, stating we should try the new gluten free items.

The lunch and dinner menus look ok but like the breakfast menu, I think the prices are too expensive for a suburban restaurant, even without the gluten free bread!

The bread surcharge is too expensive. Some places charge extra for gluten free bread; however, this is by far the most expensive I have come across. The majority of places I have been to charge an extra $2. A few days after brunch, I thought I’d call Frankie’s to see what bread they used. Again, the staff member I spoke to was friendly and helpful, and told me the bread was from La Bakehouse Exquisite. This bread can be bought in a number of shops in Canberra and is used by a few restaurants. It’s as close to wheat bread as I have found, and is usually around $8 retail for a white vienna loaf.

Overall, I enjoyed Frankie’s food but feel a bit mixed about visiting again. The food was good, it was buzzing with people and the staff were very friendly. Unfortunately, it was let down by the staff’s lack of knowledge about gluten free oats and this made me uncomfortable. I also think the prices are a bit steep, particularly the bread surcharge.

1/26 Francis Forde Boulevard, Forde ACT 2914

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