A consensus recommendation from many sources had been that Franklin should be my primary fine dining port of call in Hobart. I was more than happy to take the advice although it was a hot ticket meaning I dined late on my second night rather than early on my first as I’d originally planned.
Solo and couple diners are generally seated at their bar seats which offer a full view of the kitchen team at work. Chef Analiese Gregory and her team kept up a fast pace through service with a calm grace that ensured serenity abounded in the post-industrial chic of the former car showroom.
As is very commonly the way in Australian places they offered a ‘feed me’ option which was essentially a tasting menu done in as approachable a way as possible.
We opened with a series of elegant snacks: an oyster topped with cucumber granita, chicken liver parfait in the midst of two wafer-thin crackers, lamb belly with local honey, and an amazing octopus head and saltbush dumpling. I could have eaten about a dozen of the dumplings very happily.
Next was a fresh salad of carrot, pickled cumquat, radish, and foraged leaves atop a chickpea and cashew miso. It was lovely stuff.
This was followed by burrata curd served with house-made sobressada and topped with crisped foraged herbs. This put me in mind of the amazing meal I’d had at Bæst. This dish could have sat of that esteemed menu such was its quality and panache.
Next was wood-roasted octopus with sweet and sour currants and smoked macadamia. I think this was a slight weak link mainly because the central octopus element wasn’t all that great. The fruit and nuts were a really good flavour mix though so there was still much to like.
We then came to the best pairing of the evening with a wood-roasted potato cake served with yoghurt and intense wild fennel oil matched with something called Brian. Brian was one of those odd beer-wine crossover projects between a Tamar valley Riesling producer and local brewery Two Metre Tall. It was dankly funky and worked really well with what was as complex a potato dish as you’re likely to find.
The focal protein of the evening was lamb, served with broad bean pesto and roasted fennel. This was a gloriously fatty chop from local Littlewood farm. It was a suitably spring-like note on which to end the savoury dishes.
The dessert came with a satisfying manzanilla sherry and had Jerusalem artichoke at its heart.
With a caramel sauce base, Jerusalem artichoke ice-cream – a first for me – was topped with artichoke crisps. This was unconventional and rather marvellous.
So overall, Franklin served me an excellent meal full of accomplished cooking. Flavour combinations were thoughtful and original. What’s more, it’s just a lovely place to sit and eat your dinner. I’d recommend you do so at your earliest convenient opportunity.
Blythe scores Franklin
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for service
4.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 17.5/20
I ate: snacks of lamb belly with honey, octopus head and saltbush dumpling, oyster with frozen cucumber, chicken liver parfait; fresh spring salad with cashew miso; burrata curd with house sobressada and fried sage; roasted octopus with currants and macadamia; roasted potato cake with yoghurt and fennel oil;
I drank: saké, chardonnay, Sicilian rosato, Brian, local sangiovese, sherry, water
I wore: black suede loafers
Total bill: $150
Address: 30 Argyle Street, Hobart TAS 7000