I finally made it to Franklin Cafe last night. Is this really a place that people would still recommend? It fit into every negative stereotype I have for Boston's dining scene--mediocre food, indifferent food service, poor treatment of guests, and terrible wine service.
We arrived shortly before 6:00, as we were heading to the theater at 8:00. Although there were 4 tables still open, they wouldn't seat us until our 2 friends arrived, who were parking their car just down the street. OK, I get that they don't want to seat "incomplete" parties, but they really weren't nice about it. Our friends arrived a few minutes later, and we got a seat in the very dark room. Our waitress was arrived, and I can only describe her as surly. She never smiled once, answered all questions with one word answers, and did absolutely NOTHING to enhance our experience. The best I can say about her, she brought our food.
We had a bottle of the Rosenblum Zinfandel, which was very good, but was plopped down with four not-very-good wine glasses, which were quickly filled (clank on the edge of each glass). The pumpkin curry bisque was very good, but I would have prefered a dollop of creme fraiche instead of the pumkin seeds in the middle, which gave it an unpleasant crunch. The arugula and beet salad was OK, but the slivered beets were almost unnoticeable (and couldn't be seen in the very dim light of the restaurant.) The steak frites was mediocre, a fair strip of meat, overcooked and tasting mostly of the char of the grill. The fries were excellent, as was the port wine demi-glace, the only good things I had. My DC had the grilled flounder, served with farro and peas, which was pretty good, but dry. There's no dessert menu at all (why?), so our unhelpful waitress asked us if we wanted coffee or tea, again without a smile. At this point, the place was filled, and loud. We paid (and overtipped her, IMHO, but it wasn't my choice).
Why do places like this thrive in Boston? Are our standards really that low? Or did I just have a bad experience?
So, my list of restaurants in Boston that I think are really worth going to now includes Ten Tables and, uh, well, that's it.