Food Review: Uncle Franks

Culinary ingenuity is undermined by disappointing fries.

Chips Market Square Sausage School Girls Tweed Uncle Franks

Parvizi Eats: Uncle Franks, Market Square.

“You want chilli sauce with dat mayte?” I had before me a unique gastronomic proposition. Having returned for a MPhil this year, I had just experienced a virginal graduate night out where tweed jackets, Obama’s healthcare plan and the dangers of Iranian nuclear proliferation were interspersed with debates as to whether British cuisine could ever compete with our cross channel cheese-­â€eating cousins. But this is credit crunch year and thus highly inappropriate to begin my reviews with Michelin starred bistros or expensive eateries.

Centrally located on Market Square Uncle Franks boasts a wide-ranging menu, and loyal clientele. It must be said Uncle Franks’ staff really do not have their heart in their job, there was no effort made to welcome me and instead I had to make do with a rather curt “What do you want?”. The choice was extensive, and luckily there were no daily specials to confuse the diner further.

Surrounded by school-clad girls and boys, who had just finished a night of grinding to Lady GaGa’s LoveGame, I chose saucisses et frites. The meal took hardly any time to be prepared my sausage plunged into a rather hellish fryer the fries scooped from a heated station. Certainly service is quick, though once again devoid of a smile.

Whilst the cast of Hit Me Baby One More Time were pondering whether to go for six or twelve chicken nuggets I was presented with my dish, which to my delight was garnished with several sauces, a smooth tomato chutney spiralling prettily around my fries and in the modern British style a small pile de la mayonnaise. In the words of Michel Roux Jnr it was “as pretty as a picture” yet–  hang on – Uncle Franks (the lack of punctuation is rather confusing – does the van belong to Uncle Frank or is he more simply Mr Franks?) had another treat up their sleeve, the option of a chilli confit. The idea of sausages made with chillies is rather established but to serve a chilli garnish rather novel. I nodded in apprehensive approval, my fellow diners emboldened by my decision “Nice tweed jacket…twat”.

Having paid £2.50 ($4/€2.70) I was faced by another decision before I could actually taste my meal – the empty stalls of the market or the bench outside The Guildhall? The latter is mostly populated with Cambridge’s boozehounds but I was feeling bold. What awaited me was both faith in the British tradition of culinary ingenuity yet tinged with disappointment. The sausage itself was beautifully cooked; golden-­â€brown with the onion ring, hamburger infused oil providing a truly deep flavour, and the pork really rather succulent. But alas, the fries, Uncle Frank if you are reading this, lament the fries. The chutney, confit and mayonnaise work brilliantly with the meat but the lack of crunch in my fries really let the food down.

Nonetheless Uncle Franks provided a welcome return to Cambridge’s dining scene, a city that produces good food but not quite excellent.

Ambience: Stavros Flatley
Service: Kerry Katona’s Mortgage Plan
Pricing: JLS’ Beat Again
Overall Rating: Peter Andre