Franklin Cafe

At first glance, Franklin Café seems like a safe choice for a first date. With its black leather booths and deep red walls, the ambiance is spot-on.

But the unprepared couple can find themselves in more than one awkward situation. Franklin Café is hard to find, tucked away in the residential area of the South End roughly ten blocks from the Back Bay stop on the Orange Line. In addition, there are no visible signs from the street.

Once my date and I finally sat down, I could barely see him. It was way too dark to be considered romantic.

The music and other noise levels were tolerable at first, but by the end of our meal, we were leaning in and nearly shouting at each other.

If you (or more importantly, your date) can get past these setbacks, then you’re in for a treat because the food is quite good. The menu features mostly classic fare such as vegetarian pastas, seafood, and steak, but also includes some Asian fusion cuisine, like Char Siu ravioli.

For our appetizer, we ordered Crispy Shrimp Toasts, served with warm onion kimchee. They resembled crab rangoons, but with more crunch and less cream.

For our entrees, I ordered the Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder Au Jus, and my date ordered the Pan-Roasted Organic Chicken. Both were juicy and tender. My pork hardly needed a knife, passing the true test of slow roasting.

Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the pork, while those craving a salty kick should opt for the chicken. Portion sizes were just right, leaving us with enough room for dessert.

But wait, there’s no dessert menu?

Looks like a date at the Franklin Café won’t have a sweet ending after all. —Tracy Kambara