ED­WINA DICK vis­its Ho­bart’s ac­claimed new(ish) restau­rant where Tas­ma­nia tastes as good as it looks.

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

Franklin, Ho­bart, Tas nel., Sydney, NSW

Pat­ting a na­tive fur, my din­ing com­pan­ion Alice asks: “Oh, can I sit on a pos­sum please, I’m a bit chilly?” “Of course… ac­tu­ally, it’s a hy­brid of pos­sum and wal­laby,” an­swers a waiter with a wink as we take our seats. I don’t hide my gri­mace well. Alice was raised on a farm though; she’s not irked in the slight­est.

Wal­laby pelts (re­splen­dent with full tails) won’t ap­peal to ev­ery­one. There’s no doubt, though, set against the swanky sim­plic­ity of pol­ished con­crete and sim­ple ’50s-style fur­ni­ture, the feel is un­apolo­get­i­cally Tas­ma­nian. Such is the glo­ri­ous enigma of Ho­bart din­ing sen­sa­tion, Franklin.

Here, head chef David Moyle, (pre­vi­ously of Byron’s The Pa­cific Din­ing Room and Franklin’s pre­de­ces­sor, The Stack­ings) is revered for his bold edit of ex­quis­ite lo­cal pro­duce, pre­pared with rev­er­ence. Sea­soned with flavours of the wild, think toasted salt­bush, dried oys­ter and wakame but­ter, th­ese el­e­ments come to­gether for sublime eat­ing at Franklin.

“There’s no Tassie sparkling!” laments Alice, scru­ti­n­is­ing the French-heavy wine list. Franklin only stocks nat­u­ral wines and just two Tas­ma­nian num­bers make the cut. We set­tle on a glass of Gringet (a gin­ger-based dry sparkling wine) and start se­lect­ing our feast.

“This is really spe­cial,” says Alice, point­ing to the listing of whole wood-roasted abalone. “Some peo­ple might balk at $72, but you never, ever see abalone on a Tas­ma­nian restau­rant menu… it’s nor­mally ex­ported to Asia im­me­di­ately.” We won’t or­der it to­day, but we spy our neigh­bours’ de­light with theirs.

Ten out of the 14 Franklin dishes star seafood, but we’re not talk­ing your reg­u­lar ‘name an Aussie fish dish’ picks. The se­lec­tion and prepa­ra­tion is far more rar­efied: steamed peri­win­kles; grains cooked with braised net­tles and southern cala­mari; raw sea urchin in nas­tur­tium leaves.

The flaw­less brine of the Southern Ocean ren­ders the del­i­cate urchins re­mark­able. Wrapped in the leaf of my Nanna’s favourite flower, to­day they come topped with an ounce of softly cooked onion. I’m in­cred­u­lous that a serve of two is just $8. We go on. A plate of raw king­fish with salted daikon and fresh horse­rad­ish is Van Diemen’s Land sashimi. Ja­panese in in­spi­ra­tion, Tas­ma­nian to the core. Then we share a soup so ex­tra­or­di­nary I’ll bore oth­ers about it for years: dried scal­lop broth with raw scal­lops, creamed cele­riac and anise. Dressed with a scat­ter­ing of gar­lic flower buds, it’s ce­les­tial to the eye, and umami gold to the mouth.

We move on to coastal pas­tures with An­gus beef tartare, per­me­ated by black­ened egg­plant and dried olive. Earthy and sweet, our 2012 Fanny Sabre Cotes de Beaune Rouge Bur­gundy makes the ideal cou­pling. Still there are three more dishes to come; and each one we fawn over.

The new Ho­bart, post-Mona, is dash­ing, yet un­pre­ten­tious. Re­fined but still raw. It is, af­ter all, just two steps from wilder­ness, and Aus­tralia’s last stop be­fore Antarc­tica. Here in the el­e­gant pared back space of Franklin, you can lit­er­ally taste the place. “So, when are you com­ing to Ho­bart again?” asks Alice.

“Soon,” I an­swer. “Very soon”.

THIS IM­AGE: Franklin’s sleek in­te­rior · Tassie scal­lops (inset). BE­LOW: A mod­ern yet earthy feel. BOT­TOM: The Art Deco en­trance.

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