Café review: Frankie’s Modern Diner

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By contributor Shaleeta Harper

A stereotypical student lives on Mr. Noodles, Kraft Dinner, coffee, and, occasionally, McDonald’s as a treat. The notoriously healthy student lives life shopping on the edges of the grocery store, and goes to a restaurant featuring fresh, local, and scratch-made food when they’re up for a night out. If that’s what you’re looking for in the north end, you’ll find it at Frankie’s Modern Diner, across the highway from Woodgrove Mall. Diner fare blends with a bit of an upscale attitude in a classic environment. The pub style chairs are upholstered in a deep red vinyl, and the bubble-like chandeliers are reminiscent of art—mid 20th century style with a modern twist.

I’ve visited Frankie’s a few times. On one visit, I was excited to see there was a special on appetizers. Unfortunately, only three of the 13 on the menu were reduced in price: wings, flatbread, and fancy fries (made fancy with truffle oil and a dust of fine white cheese). Before ordering fries featuring truffle oil, it is helpful to know whether you actually like truffle oil. Apparently, I do not. The delicate flavour appealed to others at the table though.

The fish taco entrée included three crispy fried tacos heaped with lettuce. They weren’t quite saucy enough for my taste so I doused them in fresh lemon. They were hot though, the flour tortillas were soft, and the fresh cilantro added an extra dimension.

On another visit I shared some of the curried penne from my partner-in-food. The sweet dish had hardly any spicy heat to it, abounded with coconut and mango flavour. We paired that with a mango milkshake, which we enjoyed so much that we nearly ordered another. The tangyness of mango achieved perfect balance with the sweetness of the ice cream. The wines were inexpensive—half price on Thursdays—but the milkshake won the day for us.

Another dessert favourite is the key lime pie. It’s sweet with just a hint of tart, and a magically firm and dry graham crust. As fans of extra-tartness, we squeezed the lime wedge on. One of our tablemates, a connoisseur of authentic Key Lime pie, gave it her stamp of approval.

At Frankie’s Modern Diner, the food tries hard, and mostly succeeds, but the desserts are the real stars. I would love to come by on a special occasion just to try all the desserts Frankie’s has to offer.


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