Changing The Guard At Franklin
by Stephanie Williams
There’s no doubt that chef Analiese Gregory has commanded the attention of the food world over the past few years, taking Franklin restaurant to the next level and becoming a poster girl of sorts for where food in Tassie is at right now.
I enjoyed dinner at Franklin a while back, and since learning of her leaving the head chef role for greener pastures (literally, buying a country property and sharing the spoils on Instagram), I thought it was time to check out the new team.
Chef Peter Cooksley has slotted into the head chef role, and we’re told he was most recently in charge of snacks at Lucinda and head chef at Embla in Melbourne before that. The night we pop in, I also spied Ali Currey – Vourmand in the kitchen, who was previously head chef at The Agrarian Kitchen. Having eaten at Lucinda, Embla and The Agrarian Kitchen, I knew we were in for a good night.
It seems that wood-chopping and fire-tending has been added to the list of required skills for chef’s these days. The Franklin menu (and kitchen) revolves around a 10-tonne wood-fired Scotch oven, ranging from ingredients that have been licked by the fire through to fully charred goodness. The dining room has an industrial feel, helped along by the fact it’s housed in an old mechanic’s workshop. We book a seat at the kitchen bar, which is always the coveted spot to me, being able to watch the chefs at work and see how the team dynamic operates as service heats up.
We’re given the option of choosing from the a la carte menu or handing ourselves over to the ‘feed me’ option ($90/head). Keen to try as much as we can, the feed me menu gets a run with us. The menu starts with Blackman Bay pacific oysters with mignonette, teeny (in a good way) herb and cheese fritters and finely chopped calamari with a punchy lemon dressing. Lamb tartare with paprika and potato chips is prepared in front of us by a young chef, under the watchful eye of Peter – it’s wonderful to see the skills being shared on the job.
At this point we watch as chef plates up a huge, splayed out and deep fried zucchini flower and then delight as it’s put down in front of us. Let’s face it, good batter is just a joy, and this batter is textbook – so crunchy and golden brown. Next up our waitress shares a plate of warm sourdough with us and warns, ‘don’t eat all the bread, wait for the next course’. But of course, we do, so when a beautiful bowl of ricotta with oregano and jus vinaigrette comes out, we order more bread. We enjoy a whole flounder roasted in the fire and served with just blanched beetroot thinnings (the tops!) and a bowl of dressed leaves.
And then to dessert. The first of two desserts is an ice cream sandwich – two light pieces of flaky puff pastry bookending strawberry ice cream. It’s so simple and satisfying. The final dish of the menu is roasted blueberries with milk granita, which leaves us feeling fresh and light rather than bogged down by a massive degustation swirling in our stomachs.
Having eaten the menu of the old guard, and now the new, Franklin, it seems, is in good hands to be Tassie’s most highly awarded restaurant for some time to come. ■
Dining Out meals are always self-funded.
30 Argyle Street, Hobart. franklinhobart.com.au