Review: Frank's Bar, Norwich, is our city's worst kept secret
PUBLISHED: 16:57 21 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 22 October 2018
Any native Norwichian reacts in the same way when you tell them you're heading to Frank's Bar.
“Ah, Frank’s,” they’ll say, with a knowing gleam in their eye, “Love that place.”
Over a decade the café-cum-bar has become our city’s worst kept secret; where residents will only take their favourite guests, for fear the place will get over-populated.
But despite it’s bijou setting and wild popularity, Frank’s always seems to have room for one more but never lets service slide because of it.
I will say, when I first sat down on a Sunday at 3pm and saw a breakfast menu, I was a bit worried.
I’d been looking forward to one of Frank’s usual, vaguely middle-Eastern-style dishes.
Usually the mains you’ll see coming out of the kitchen are the likes of harissa chicken, cod with chorizo, or a beetroot hummus bowl.
Unbeknownst to us, Frank’s only serve breakfast meals between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, so that day it was all bagels.
Not to be put off – we were determined to get our hands on what Frank’s does best: hummus, which was luckily still on offer.
We ordered both the Frank’s platter, and the hummus platter, to share between two, as our waitress suggested.
The Frank’s platter came with classic hummus, olives, and oils, and sourdough bread.
The hummus platter also came with the classic hummus, as well as beetroot and green chilli hummus, and thin slices of toasted sourdough.
Too much chick pea you say? Not so.
The beetroot hummus was delicious – I was worried it might have been oddly sweet, but it was balanced thanks to plenty of garlic and hints of tahini.
The green chilli hummus lit my light bulbs the least, but I was pleasantly surprised that it contained all of the flavour of the chilli, without any of the heat.
The showstopper was always going to be the classic hummus, dusted with paprika.
Strangely, one portion was more flavoursome than the other- it was chunkier in texture and had more of a hint of fresh lemon.
That being said, I wouldn’t have noticed the difference if I hadn’t had the two bowls in front of me.
Things did get a little confusing when our ‘mains’ arrived: a bacon and egg bagel, and a full English breakfast.
Not finished with our starting platters the meal became somewhat of a gluten-ous carb-fest.
The bagel was extremely tasty. The bacon is sourced from Attleborough supplier D J Barnard, and was crispy without being incinerated.
The fried egg was cooked to perfection, and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt and pepper.
The side salad was somewhat redundant next to the main event, but made a nice change from the bread nonetheless.
The full English breakfast was also large enough to be filling without being overwhelming.
The sauté potatoes were a welcome upgrade to hash browns, and the mushroom was cooked well enough to be soft without getting to the slimey stage.
Likewise, you can tell the baked beans hadn’t come out of a can as they had a nice hint of herb and tasted extremely tomato-ey.
Pretty much everything was either bread-heavy or contains egg or cheese, so if you’re looking for a gluten or dairy-free option, your choices will be limited with the Sunday menu.
You wouldn’t have the same issue with the full menu the rest of the week round.
Unfortunately for ease of service customers also can’t swap out items from those described on the menu, so there are few ways around the issue.
I had a cup of tea; a fair-trade tea bag. For a place which has an artisan feel I would have liked to see some tea leaves, but it’s a small quibble.
This is one of the things which keeps people coming back time and time again. There were afternoon drinkers settling in before the Sunday film screenings in the upstairs seating area, mixing with mums enjoying afternoon tea and cake, whilst their children played scrabble at the end of the table.
Frank’s always feels cosy and welcoming without feeling stuffy.
The staff were helpful and friendly without being overbearing.
The usual for any city centre dining. Castle Mall is probably closest.
In one of the prettiest part of the cities, tucked in the cobbled lanes behind Jarrolds.
I paid £25 and we left with full stomachs and a good mood.
The hummus, of course.
Frank’s is a cult favourite for a reason. I ordered off a menu I wasn’t particularly enamoured with, but would now happily do so again.
Three dishes you must try:
1. The Frank’s platter: delicious ingredients, can’t go wrong.
2. The Tapas platter: plenty of food and something to please everyone.
3. The homemade chips: chunky but not tasteless stodge.
Value for money:
Can’t beat it, if we’d bought anything more we wouldn’t have been able to finish it.
If you that, try this:
1. Café No. 33, Norwich: Exceptional for breakfast and has a wider menu offering as that’s its focus.
2. Gonzo’s Tea Room, Norwich: Another laid-back evening haunt with a delicious menu to match.
3. The Warwick Street Social, Unthank: Similar laid-back feel but with more of a fine-dining feel.