Add: Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Lu, near Tai’an Lu / 武康路376号, 近泰安路
Tel: 158 2167 6767
Hours: [Tue-Fri] 6pm-10:30pm [Sat-Sun] 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm (Closed on Mon)
Price: 450~600 RMB/person
Visited on: 2012-06
Despite all the negative reviews Franck has received (most of which targeted its service and price), I had a very charming dinner here just a few evenings ago. The prices are still up there, but the service has improved dramatically since the restaurant’s earlier days, while its ambience remained as bewitching as always with its Jazzy lounge music, exposed light bulbs, and dark wood furnishings. And the food? Fantastique.
The menu du jour, scribbled in French on two blackboards, offers a selection of hearty dishes that changes according to the availability of ingredients. Our waiter, a young Chinese man who has been working at the restaurant for 4 years, was knowledgable about the details of each dish and happy to explain.
First, a bottle of Le “Petit” Rosé de Franck (390 RMB/bottle) and a bread basket, served with butter, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
The feast began with La Grand Charcuterie (290 RMB), which featured a few types of cold cuts, terrine de campagne, foie gras confit, pickled baby cucumbers, and caramelized onions. Why yes, it’s a lovely platter. I’ve been cutting down my foie gras consumption lately, but Franck’s rendition is difficult to resist.
Then, onto a lighter entrée – Salade d’Asperges (150 RMB), white asparagus salad served with poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.
Moving on to the main courses, I first tried a bite of Tartare de Boeuf (180 RMB) and was bedazzled. A slab of raw beef was chopped au couteau, its texture well preserved and its delicate flavor accentuated with egg yolk, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, capers, and a dash of hot sauce. The flavors were bold and exciting, yet in harmony with one other.
I also loved Côtes de Porc Poêlées (300 RMB), or simply pork chops when translated to English. Franck uses black Iberian pigs from Spain, the same ones that forage for acorns and become jamón ibérico, some of the finest hams on earth. The even marbling of fat gives it a tender texture and juicy flavor. Served with mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms, perfect.
Also very well-received at our table was Carré d’Agneau Rôti (250 RMB), roasted rack of lamb . Browned on the exterior but still lusciously pink on the inside, the meat was tender and wonderfully fragrant with thyme and garlic. Served with warm lentil salad.
As for Risotto de Séliole (280 RMB), the fish was a bit dry but the risotto was love-at-first-bite. Luxuriously creamy yet firm at the core, I could not help but put yet another spoonful in my mouth.
Poulet Rôti (180 RMB) was the least impressive of all. The chicken was fine but did not leave a memorable mark amidst all the wonderful dishes we had on the table.
Handcut fries and freshly tossed salads on the side. Simple and good.
To apologize for a not so well-received remark he made earlier that evening, our waiter sent over a cup of Glace au Caramel (not on the menu) which we happily devoured. Hint: sprinkle a bit of fleur du sel to accentuate the sweetness in the ice-cream.
Tarte Tatin (90 RMB) is a dessert best described as an upside-down pie, in which the pastry crust is baked on top on the apples instead of the other way around (click here to read the story behind). I quite enjoyed Franck’s tarte tatin, which was served with an apple liqueur-flavored crème fraîche and adorned with a sprig of vanilla, though the rest of my table didn’t seem to be as receptive to this dish.
Nougat Glacé (90 RMB), on the other hand, was welcomed by all. The indulgently creamy block was laced with meringue, honey, raspberries, hazelnuts, and nougats – a combination that would easily swoon anyone with a sweet tooth.
Mousse au Chocolat (60 RMB) is another French classic, and the version at Franck has a very high dark chocolate content and thus more bitter. It was a fine cup, but by this point it was too rich for me to take.
We left Franck full bellied and thoroughly satisfied. There’s a warmness about this French brasserie, the kind that is especially contagious (especially under the influence of some wine), and the fact that it was almost full on a weekday evening suggests that at least a good chunk of Shanghai is charmed. This is certainly a place to frequent if I weren’t watching my waistline and wallet…