Franzè & Evans
Oscar winners, bad haircuts, courgette cupcakes and not a soggy tiramisu in sight.
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The impossibly light and airy cupcakes at Franzè & Evans are a result of the not-so-secret ingredient of courgette - which kind of says it all. As such, this health-focused Shoreditch Italian deli has everyone from vegans and vegetarians to the pretentious and indeed the famous knocking down its doors each morning for a soya latte and goodness knows what else. (It's the regular haunt of one trim-figured Oscar-winning actress who shall not be named, for example).
It's always bustling with talk and activity despite its modest size; as such you'll commonly find yourself seated on large wooden tables next to strangers with bad haircuts declaring their love of speciality foods. Which isn't nearly as painful as it sounds - in fact, it's usually quite hilarious. But how would such a mad atmosphere translate to a dinner menu hour, we wondered?
Quite effortlessly, it turns out. A few less people and a couple of candles later, Franze & Evans transforms from cutesy delicatessen to boutiquey restaurant, albeit with the decent prices and cheery, laid back service reflective of a cafe ethos.
First up we recommend the rubbery fried chilli squid topped with fresh chilli and spring onions; a pleasingly coarse and filling starter with bite. A light and bubbly aperol spritz with procescco and soda made for a delicious and summery accompaniment.
For our main we, for some strange reason, veered away from the array of fresh, inventive and always, always health-conscious Italian dishes on offer - don't come here looking for pizza. We almost opted for grilled swordfish with caper, lemon and garlic but were instead distracted by the typically-Italian handsomeness of a fellow diner's gigantic homemade beef burger and another's steak. The burger was incredibly high quality and infused with countless subtle herbs; the bright and plentiful salad accompaniment presented with style and care. The impressively-sized steak served with cooked-to-perfection potato wedges and red wine butter was flawless but would've benefited from a vegetable accompaniment, or at least the suggestion of one from our otherwise faultless waitress.
Regarding dessert, it's almost impossible to give a recommendation. We're not sure if there are two words that go together more beautifully than pistachio and macaroons (perhaps rosewater meringue?) but Franze & Evans is most famous for its cake-based dishes (courgette and lemon cupcakes aren't for everyone, but there are always another rotating umpteen to chose from boasting an array of ingredients at any given time). And its excellent Italian coffee. As such its magnum opus is probably its solid, creamy and thankfully NOT soggy tiramisu, which was, without doubt, the best we've ever tasted.
Franzè & Evans, 101 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DL