Concrete Jungle Dry – Franklin Review
Location: 30 Argyle Street Hobart, Tasmania
Chef: David Moyle
Walking through Hobart on a mid-Summer night is a pleasant experience, the air has a slight chill. We arrive at Franklin, enter and are immediately impressed by the stark beauty of the dining room with its kitchen and large wood fired oven sitting in a position of command in the centre of the dining floor. We have heard the menu is locally sourced produce done elegantly well in its simplicity. We are accompanied to table and being thirsty from our walk immediate request water and the wine list. Mookie asks for a Pimms – sorry no Pimms. I peruse the wine list for a second (that’s all it takes being so short, its a very small selection of organic, bio-dynamic and natural wines) and decide to settle with water, for now. I look around the restaurant – the kitchen is eerily quiet and clear, gauze curtain gives some privacy from the other sections of the restaurant. It truly does feel cool, in more than one sense.
With time spent at Circa and The Prince in St Kilda, then Pacific Dining Room at Byron Bay, Chef David Moyle moved to Tasmania to The Stackings at Peppermint Bay. Having received various awards David shifted his focus to Hobart and with the assistance of the owners of Peppermint Bay he opened Franklin in late 2015. Franklin’s menu is dominated by seafood and Moyle’s approach is minimalist when it comes to garnishes. He works quietly at his station; the kitchen executes under his quiet direction, with benches being predominately clear except for the brief period that it takes to plate a dish.
The food flows slowly, it’s all share plates which is difficult with six people. Sharing the chewy carrots in roasted duck broth and epazote (a herb) without separate bowls proves an impossible proposition so each person takes but one spoonful and the remainder sits for lack of a mechanism by which it can be hygienically shared. Standout dishes include steamed periwinkles with aoili for its uniqueness, lamb rump with bread sauce, vine leaves and anchovy for its wonderful combination of flavour, The wood roasted whole salt water chicken with dried mushroom steals the show from the restaurant signature wood roasted whole flathead with wakame butter. I particularly enjoy the almond & lake pedder honey cake with herb blossoms.
The Franklin experience was a pleasant one, this is definitely a great addition to the Hobart dining scene. The space was superb and the seating not in any way crowded. The Foodie Mookie crew would love to see a wider selection of wines on the wine list and perhaps more than one person on the floor staff with enough knowledge to service the list. Once we managed to get the attention of the sommelier (this took more than 30 minutes) he found us something “not on the menu” which was exactly what we wanted but by then most of our course were finished. Both the food execution and the selection of local ingredients was excellent but the speed of service when there are 6 hungry people waiting was too slow. Tip for our readers, go as a couple or (at most) two couples. Ask for the sommelier and tell him what type of wine you are looking for if you don’t see one on the menu. Try periwinkles if you want something very different.