My friend Loren and I share the same birthday week (My birthday is the 17th of this month, hers is the 20th). On her day off last weekend she invited a small group to get together at her favorite tea and cake shop, Frances, in Little Tokyo. I’ve been to Frances’ before with Loren and I remember the pastries being the stuff of dreams. With my camera in tow, it was finally time to document this delightful, delectable sweet spot.
Situated in the unassuming Honda Plaza near Alameda and 2nd Streets, it’s easy to passover Frances as well as many of the hole-in-the-wall eateries and businesses. Moving on to flashier, more attractive store fronts might be tempting but you would be doing yourself a disservice. As soon as you enter Frances you’ll hear your mom, a teacher or Mister Rogers reminding you to never judge a book by its cover.
Along the left-hand side is the counter, rows and rows of baked goods and sweet treats ready for immediate consumption. There are a handful of full sized tarts, cakes, mousse and pies available to take home or you can place an order in advance. Frances also provides homemade jams and preserves.
The decor is a mix of Rococo flair and Parisian cafe. A glass counter case behind our table was chock filled with antique teacups from all over the world. I kept staring at them until I couldn’t help but ask for the price listing. I can’t help it; I’m a teacup collector. Alas, too rich for my pockets – but beautiful nonetheless.
Loren and her friend Jocelyn ordered a pot of tea each. Alas, my singular quibble with Frances is their poor choices in decaffeinated tea. All that was available to me was lemon and chamomile. As I’m hardly ever in the mood for either, I stuck with water. As for our tea time treats:
We were unanimously pleased with our choices, with only Loren being unable to finish her cake as it was just too rich. I loved my Neapolitan and would order it again in a heartbeat.
Also, I decided to splurge on macaroons:
Unfortunately, all but the chocolate hazelnut were just not up to par. They were excessively sugary, which overwhelmed most of the flavoring. Strawberry, in particular, tasted too artificial. Loren agreed with my conclusion, but we theorized that this must have been a bad batch as she has had successfully balanced macaroons from Frances in the past.
Fracnes Bakery & Coffee
404 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-4209
Public Transit: Little Tokyo station on the Gold Line light rail
Hours of Operation: