FRANKLIN FLOUR­ISHES

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Front Page -

FRANKLIN

30 Ar­gyle St, Ho­bart Open Tues­day-Thurs­day for din­ner, drinks and snacks, from 4.30pm un­til late; and Fri­day and Satur­day for lunch from 11.30am, snacks from 4.30pm and din­ner from 6pm. Li­censed. 6234 3375 F ranklin opened three years ago with lauded chef David Moyle at the helm. Many pre­dicted it would fill the void when the ter­roir restau­rant Garag­istes closed, but three years on, one would be hard-pressed to find a Ho­bart eatery that so di­vides opin­ion.

I had eaten David Moyle’s food at his pre­vi­ous post at the Stack­ings at Pep­per­mint Bay, but I missed his Franklin era. My maiden visit to the restau­rant co­in­cided with the re­cent ar­rival of new chef Analiese Gre­gory, fresh from Syd­ney’s famed Bar Brose, who has been in the job just over a month now.

Much has been writ­ten about the Bru­tal­ist in­te­rior of Franklin, which is housed in the old Mer­cury build­ing, and I braced my­self for the chill and clat­ter that so of­ten ac­com­pa­nies such spa­ces. I needn’t have wor­ried as the buzzy bon­homie soft­ened all those po­ten­tially hard edges to re­veal a lofty, invit­ing and beau­ti­ful space.

There was a le­gion of friendly staff on hand the evening we vis­ited. Perched on the bar, we could view the kitchen staff meet­ing their dead­lines with the sort of calm ef­fi­ciency that is al­ways a marvel to wit­ness. This is clearly a kitchen in con­trol.

The con­ti­nu­ity of the house style of food ap­pears to be, at least in the in­terim, in­tact, with a few Moyle-era riffs re­ver­ber­at­ing on the menu in the form of the oc­to­pus and the whole flat­head.

I’m un­clear if Gre­gory has ex­er­cised much of her reper­toire as yet, given her re­cent ar­rival, how­ever the food we sam­pled was sure-footed, in­ter­est­ing and de­li­cious.

Top-notch bur­nished sour­dough came from Pi­geon Whole, baked on the Ar­gyle St site in the same build­ing.

We started with a bite of chicken liver pate sand­wiched be­tween sheaths of be­guil­ing yeast crisps, not un­like im­pos­si­bly thin filo pas­try. We then en­joyed a crisp-roasted lamb rib, each sit­ting in a vis­cous pool of burnt honey, though the licorice ac­com­pa­ny­ing it was very sub­tle.

Next we shared a Ja­panese-in­spired dish of raw snap­per with cumquat and wakame that was as el­e­gant to gaze upon as it was to taste. Our wood-fired potato bread with guan­ciale was a crisp-shelled de­light topped with cured pork and a tangy-salty an­chovy dress­ing.

Then it was time to sam­ple the oc­to­pus with pre­served le­mon and smoked pa­prika. It was verg­ing on glassy and yet firmed up enough by the ra­di­ant heat of the wood-fired oven to ap­pease those who like their seafood cooked all the way through. It was then back to Ja­pan for the in­spired dish of but­ter-soft pork jowl with pick­led plum and radic­chio.

Per­haps the best dish of the evening, and one I have sam­pled on at least three menus of late, was the wood-roasted cab­bage, this ver­sion with wakame but­ter and shaved salted cheese. It was a det­o­na­tion of flavour and tex­ture, re­ally out­stand­ing and so won­der­ful to see the hum­ble cab­bage play­ing a lead­ing role.

Of the four desserts listed, we rhap­sodised over the crispy potato, brown but­ter and salted caramel. The other se­lected dessert, the straw­berry gum milk sor­bet, rhubarb and dam­son, was an in­trigu­ing mix of tex­tures with a vaguely medic­i­nal flavour pro­file that had me plac­ing it in the “cu­ri­ous” rather than “de­li­cious” side of the pud­ding ledger.

Franklin’s wine list is a love let­ter of sorts to a style of wine-mak­ing of­ten de­scribed as min­i­mal­ist in­ter­ven­tion, and many of th­ese are for­eign or from the main­land.

Some peo­ple may find it chal­leng­ing that Tas­ma­nian wines are scarce on this list, but I think Franklin’s com­mit­ment to cham­pi­oning a wine phi­los­o­phy they be­lieve in de­serves plau­dits.

Many food op­er­a­tions play it safe and we are lucky to have a few that dare to be dif­fer­ent. The mea­sure of a ma­ture and open-minded city is re­flected in the di­ver­sity of its food and wine of­fer­ings and Franklin caters to this point of dif­fer­ence in a dis­tinc­tive and de­ter­mined way.

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