From attractive, old-world interiors to delectable plates that celebrate a variety of cities and regions in France and neighbouring Mediterranean coasts, Potts Point’s French establishment Franca Brasserie offers an honest fine dining experience like no other.
Franca’s “love note to Europe” is their seductive menu of food and cocktails, highlighting bold flavours and locally-sourced ingredients, prepared using classic technique. Upon entering, we observed the open-plan dining venue filled with quaint embellishments and a sultry cocktail bar; an impressive room beaming with a charged atmosphere from the social aspect of eccentric diners and warm hosts.
As we attentively browsed the menu by chef Alexis Besseau (formerly of Est and Bathers’ Pavilion) flaunting an exciting selection of cocktail offerings that pays tribute to Parisian brasserie culture, we began our evening with the Electric Margarita, a sensual blend of Sichuan Infused Sesion Blanco Tequila, Watermelon Cordial, and Lime Juice; and the Miss Macleay, a simple and refreshing concoction of Tanqueray Gin, Peach Shrub, Lillet Blanc, Celery, Citrus, and Whites. Both equally boasting a flavourful palate (the margarita with its piquant notes and the Macleay with its fresh twist owing to the hero ingredient of celery) these were both perfect choices for a first drink.
For our starters, we sampled the Foie Gras Macaron with Vadouvan Spice; the Snapper Cru with Lemonade Fruit and Pistachios; the Pickled Octopus with Ajo Blanco, Chorizo and Fennel; and the Pan Fried Gnocchi mixed with Mushrooms, Goat's Cheese and Sage. All boasting a wildly autumn palate (and palette), they all come highly recommended when selecting entrées as we head into the cooler seasons.
Personal highlights, however, were definitely the pan fried gnocchi with its full, succulent and cushiony body with bursts of buttery goodness; as well as the pickled octopus – the added crunch thanks to the toasted almonds, paired with the subtle and surprising smoked-spice element of chorizo, made this dish an exceptionally radical and yet somehow simplistic commencement to the evening. Next time I would love to try the Heirloom Tomato & Stracciatella Tart; this one came highly recommended by a handful of friends.
My father, who is French (born and raised in Normandy), accompanied me for the dining experience and had a very personal and emotional ‘moment’ when indulging the Foie Gras Macaron; he shared his praise of how their take on the contemporary fusion of the French flavours and textures was brilliantly done. The macaron and foie gras melted sensually in the mouth, with a bold aftertaste that unapologetically dawdled.
I would suggest the Mistress In Paris cocktail (Havana 3yo, Grand Marnier, Plum Shrub, Citrus and Mint Oil) or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc between courses or with the array of seafood starters. The Mistress in Paris was my absolute favourite drink of the evening with its plumb and citrus balance, cleansing the palate for what else awaits.
For the mains, we tried the Maple Glazed Duck Breast with Beetroot, Lentils and Juniper; and the Wagyu Bavette with Pancetta, Eschalots, Broad Beans and Jus. The latter was the fan-favourite at our table pour deux. I couldn’t recommend this one more with its rustic, romantic flavours, ever-so neatly constructed. If ordering the Wagyu Bavette, I also suggest complimenting it with a side of Cauliflower Gratin for a solid fusion of charismatic textures to experiment with.
To conclude our Franca experience on a sweet note, we sampled something light, something citrus and something chocolate. The Passionfruit Souflé with Almond Craquelin and Pop Corn Ice Cream is known to be a popular choice at the Brasserie – and this was my father’s favourite as well – however, for me it was the Baked Lemon Tart with Crème Fraîche and Hazelnut. Perhaps I am biased due to my long-term love affair for all things lemon in dessert dishes, but they really were spot on with the pastry and lemon curd. A brilliant balance.
The Valrhona Chocolate Bar with Salted Caramel and Cherry Sorbet was also a fine choice, however the first two definitely boast a more unique appeal with their outlandish flavours and exciting architecture (think: a small rustic saucepan with a perfect soufflé sitting like a stuffed cushion, drizzled with almond, ice cream and popcorn).
If pairing your sweet indulgence with a dessert cocktail, I put forward the Grasshopper: a sexy mingling of Jacoulot Mint Liqueur, tem-pus cacao and vanilla, and cream.
Thank you Franca Brasserie for welcoming us with open arms and transporting us back to fond memories of France’s urban, country and coastal regions through your classic dishes and authentic service.
A la carte dining is available Thursday – Sunday from 12pm for lunch, and Tuesday – Sunday from 5:30pm for dinner.