FRANKLIN Restaurant and Bar, Hobart
There are two places that have opened up in Hobart relatively recently – there’s ‘Frank’ and there’s ‘Franklin’. With similar names and a short walking distance between, for the less informed, it’s easy to get the two confused – but they are very different places. Frank Restaurant, on Franklin Wharf, touts South American influenced dining (I can’t make comment on the food as I’ve only been in for a drink), but here, I’m talking about Franklin Bar and Restaurant in Argyle Street.
Franklin is brought to us by the same team as The Stackings at Peppermint Bay (former Top 100) – Ben Lindell and chef David Moyle. At Franklin, David’s menu has a strong seafood focus and features some of the less commonly used natural treasures from Tasmanian waters including periwinkles, octopus and abalone.
There’s lots of cement here – from floor to ceiling and the kitchen bench. It’s a contemporary industrial feel with clean lines but softened by the use of sheer curtains. The kitchen is open, the lighting is good and there’s cool music playing.
There were eight of us for dinner and between us, we managed to order quite a selection from the menu. The prices are very reasonable, and there are some unusual combinations. I wanted to order pretty much all of it. Being partial to a bit of offal, I just had to get the Pine mushrooms with confit duck gizzard, epazote and liver parfait, and then I couldn’t go past the Striped Trumpeter – an outstanding fish that I haven’t been able to get hold of since I left Tassie eight years ago – in fact, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure the last time I had it was at The Stackings! I certainly wasn’t disappointed – I was presented with a nice meaty piece of fish, perfectly cooked sitting on a bed of nettle sauce. The octopus was beautifully tender, grilled and served with paprika, fennel and olive oil, and the wood roasted Flinders Island lamb shoulder was succulent and tasty.
The stand out for me for the night was the whole wood roasted abalone. It’s a little pricey at $78, but it’s not often you are offered a whole abalone when you’re out, and believe me, it’s well worth it! I’ve had quite a few abalone in my time but this is something really special. It’s steamed then sliced thinly, put back in the shell, wrapped in bull kelp and roasted in the wood fired oven with dried oyster sauce and a house made emulsion with pepper. Genius. We ordered two of them for six of us to share, and that worked well. It’s a real treat – so tender and delicious.
Interestingly, the wine list features only a small number of Australian wines including only one from Tasmania. The majority are from Italy and France. Tassie produces some great quality wines and it would be nice to see just a few more of them showcased, particularly if Franklin is going to attract interstate and/or overseas visitors. Having said that, I’m a big fan of the Italian varietals and all of the wines we had were really enjoyable.
Despite the large open area, it was easy to hear each other at the table, and our service was professional, knowledgeable and friendly. In short, Franklin didn’t disappoint. It’s fresh, quality food and something quite different. It’s a great new asset for Hobart and a Top 100 prediction for the 2016 list.