Frances Deli, 2552 N Clark St.

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I was excited about this place when I saw it. I had decided to walk down the street until I saw some sort of cafe, and pop in for a sandwich of some sort. Just a few blocks down from my house, this place looked promising.

Right when I walked in, I enjoyed the atmosphere. It was clean and friendly, and a sign saying “Take a menu and sit wherever you’d like” was just the welcome I was looking for. I did exactly that. I sat down at a small 2 person table somewhere near the middle of the restaurant, and was  Within 30 seconds, a busboy had noticed me and brought me a glass of water. Wonderful! The rest of my visit wasn’t so great.

The first thing I noticed was that the menu didn’t seem to have the choices I would expect from a place with “deli” in the name. They did have a few club sandwiches and turkey sandwiches… but the largest portion of their menu seemed to be devoted to their 10 dollar burgers and 12 dollar chicken sandwiches. I had really expected an abundance of 7-8 dollar tuna salad/chicken salad/fresh deli sandwiches.

With a clock on the wall in near view of me, I realized that I waited just under 10 minutes for the server to come by and greet me. He asked if I was ready to order, and by now of course I was, and I started telling him what I wanted. Apparently “Avocado club burger with no tomato on a pretzel bun” was too hard to remember. He stopped me before I could finish my sentence so he could “soak it all in”. I ordered a Sprite, which he seemed shocked at, as he just stared at me for a good 5 seconds before responding. On his merry way he went, and I began counting how long until my beverage arrived. Again, just under 10 minutes. I have a look around, and notice 4 other tables, 2 families, and 2 pairs of young girls.With 2 servers on, there really is no reason why I  should be sitting and waiting at all.

As he set my overful drink on the table, he spilled a good couple of ounces of it on the table next to me, and walked away promptly, obviously with no intention of wiping up his mistake. I waited eagerly for my burger. I’m very hungry. A few minutes later [super] busboy notices the spill on my table, and cleans it up with a smile as I thank him.

My burger comes a few minutes later, and it looks incredible. My beverage is empty, but I don’t have a chance to ask for another (not that I should have to ask), because the server sprints away as if there’s a kitchen fire right after dropping off the burger. The sandwich is a nice big 1/2 pound burger with aioli, lettuce, bacon and avocado. No ketchup or mustard needed here! The are fresh and hot, cut about 1/4 inch thick, unsalted, and crispy. Although it came cooked near-well while I had ordered it medium, it is deliciously juicy. The avocado, lettuce, and bacon are very fresh and crisp. I ate half of the burger, planning to save the other half to take home, and all of the fries and pushed my plate away to let the server know I was finished. He instead had just come back and asked how everything was. [Super] busboy saved the day a few minutes later and picked up my plate to box everything up for me.

The server passed my table 3 more times before delivering the check. I gave the lowest tip I’ve given in probably 2 years… 10% or so.

I didn’t hate the place. The service was very poor, and I think I won’t be sitting down to eat again soon, but they do have a takeout menu, and the burger was very delicious. Overall, I’d give a 9/10 for food, 4/10 for service, and 6/10 for value, giving Frances an overall rating of just over 6/10.