WHEN looking for somewhere to eat before tackling the weekly big shop, The Crossing is often my first port of call.

But one indie-themed corner had been accidentally neglected during my visits and it was time to put that right. The bright red signage of Franklin's Roast Sandwich Shop grabbed my attention so I wandered over to sample the deli's delights.

A slow-moving queue had formed during the Sunday lunchtime rush and this slight delay in being seen did put off a couple of people waiting behind me who went to look for food elsewhere.

But I didn't mind waiting because the one-woman operation behind the family-run business was carrying out an impressive bit of multitasking.

Owner Debra Nell simultaneously greeted customers, prepared paninis, jacket potatoes, wraps and toasties (£4 for meat filling, £3.50 for vegetarian), took orders, arranged payments and served up freshly-made sandwiches (£4) without breaking a sweat.

Despite the workload, Debra greeted me with a cheerful smile and found time for a quick chat about how suddenly she had been inundated with customers.

When it was my turn to order, a moment of indecision led to me picking two fillings at random - a chicken and beef sandwich came with salad, and I could have added free pease pudding and stuffing.

The daily special - roast pork roll with stuffing and apple sauce for £3.50 - was also tempting. The only seat free at such a busy time, with similar queues at Franklin's neighbours Indy's Vegan Kitchen and Taste of India, was a picnic bench.

Music playing at a loud but unobtrusive volume over the speakers was almost drowned out by the chatter surrounding me. Parents sat with their excitable children, young people laughed and joked at the window seats overlooking Canal Walk, middle-aged men worked on laptops and an elderly couple reunited after shopping separately.

In this relaxing but still enjoyably-buzzy atmosphere, I waited around five minutes for my meal to be ready then tucked in. Two things surprised me - that it actually looked like the photos and that it was absolutely huge.

Despite the buns and butter valiantly trying to hold it all together, a few bits of veg and chicken did tumble out, bouncing off the paper wrapping that I'd hoped would catch them and falling through slats in the bench.

Apologies to the cleaners. You can't take me anywhere.

Fresh ingredients clearly make all the difference - the fillings were flavourful and the salad was crisp and juicy. I started to wonder why I had eaten Subway's over-processed meat slices and limp lettuce so often when this superior offering was mere yards away - and it has a loyalty card.

The sandwich threatened to get a bit dry near the end - perhaps a poor choice of fillings on my part - but it left me full and satisfied.

Franklin's tiny kitchen and counter looked like those found in all other small sandwich shops which pop up on industrial estates across the country but the perks of The Crossing meant that it was ensconced in a sleek outer shell next to a large seating area in an ideal town centre location.

This mixture of authentic independent businesses backed by sizeable support from a major shopping centre is the food court's raison d'etre and it's working well. Despite tough competition from big chains nearby, you can't beat the friendly service and passion about fresh produce from a local deli.


Franklin’s Roast Sandwich Shop

The Crossing, Brunel Shopping Centre, Canal Walk, Swindon SN1 1LF

Mon to Sat: 10am to 4pm

Sun: 11am-2pm

Trip Advisor rating: 5/5

Our rating:

Food 8/10

Service: 8.5.10

Ambience: 7/10

Parking: Yes

Disabled access: Yes