Franze and Evans, Shoreditch
101 Redchurch Street
020 7033 1910
by Joyce Carol Oats
Franze and Evans is the kind of place you want to have in your neighbourhood. You want to say to someone who you are trying to impress (probably because you want them to sleep with you), ‘hey, meet me at my neighbourhood cafe’ and for them to come and find you there and sit with you at a table in the light, pleasant space, surrounded by very high-end Italian groceries, and you want them to think, ‘my, this is a neighbourhood cafe of a sophisticated, cool, person who I rather want to sleep with.’
I am with Nurse Friend, however, who I do not want to sleep with me, so this effect is somewhat wasted. Instead, we look at the menus and decide what we want to eat. And then we wait to be served. And then we notice that Franze and Evans requires customers to order at the counter. This is a terrible mistake. Such is the layout of this sophisticated, cool neighbourhood cafe that the counter ordering system creates an awkward bottleneck. I want to draw them a flowchart to show how they are doing it all wrong, and I have never drawn a flowchart in my life.
I place our order: eggs Benedict for Nurse Friend; for me, a newly-minted vegetarian, eggs Florentine, which comes with Portobello mushrooms here. Both cost about £7.50. I pay for juice, which is served only in tiny glass bottles imported from Italy, and which are only good for a few gulps. I order coffee.
And then Nurse Friend and I sit. And wait. And watch as food and drinks are delivered to people who definitely came in after us. There are three people behind the counter. There appear to be three people working in the kitchen, but maybe more – they keep emerging, like clowns out of a very small car. The chap in charge – Franze? Evans? – brings us some glasses for our juice, long after we’d finished drinking it. We are forced to read The Sun to pass the time.
The food arrives. The eggs are poached too hard, and aren't especially hot: the yolks are a deep shade that indicate that happy hens were their source, but they don’t run, which makes Nurse Friend unhappy. The hollandaise could do with some more joie de vivre, but it’s nice enough. But the fact that I have mushroom only on one half muffin, and spinach only on the other half, makes me frown: it just seems stingy. Oh, Franze. Oh, Evans. Being stingy is neither sophisticated nor cool, and now I don’t want to sleep with either of you.