Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Restaurant Review: Franklins

I've recently moved away from my beloved South London and the lack or recent posts is mainly down not having had internet for the first few weeks, its grim up North...London.  Anyway since I've betrayed my roots and moved to the other side of the river, I thought Mother's Day would be a good opportunity to head back into the blissful paradise that is South London and have a pleasant lunch with my mum in one of my favourite local places.  Said place is Franklins on Lordship Lane, converted a number of years ago now into a great gastropub.  Since then it's gone from strength to strength and even opened a little farmshop next door, which I initially thought was pretty poorly stocked and over-expensive and is now really very good (it sells something called Slider, which is a mix of sloe gin and cider and frankly I think that's all anyone needs to know).  Now winning acclaim for its fantastic cooked breakfasts, as well as its big, bold approach to British cooking, Franklin's has become a real treasure and is certainly worth making the trip for.

Franklin's is split into two parts.  Out front is a very nice but small pub section with an eclectic selection of worn wood tables, wooden floors and a medium sized bar with a good choice of beers, wines and bar snacks.  It's a great place for a drink, newspapers are supplied and £5 for a welsh rarebit, black-pudding on toast or a scotch woodcock is frankly far better value than paying £3.50 for a dinky glass of chilli cashews in some newly gentrified hole with the personality of cold tea.  At the end of the bar it gets a bit narrower and after that the restaurant section starts.  This is the larger section, but is small enough to be cosy and full enough to feel lively.  Decor is simple, brick walls, some pictures, wood floors and white tablecloths.  The food is similarly robust, but cooked with a fantastic touch and excellent ingredients it packs fantastic flavour.  Before going on I will make a small addendum: the Sunday lunches I've had there have been good, but weren't as fantastic as I had expected (hopefully I'll soon be able to go back and give it another go).  Everything else I've had has been great.

The very best thing I've eaten there was faggots with black-pudding, onion gravy and mash (it's very much a carnivore's place this).  This big, hearty dish was done with a brilliant deftness of touch that left it beautifully rich without being at all overpowering, which is impressive given what went into it.  Sadly this was not on the menu this time, but then again that gave me the chance to try something new and I wasn't disappointed.

I started with a salt beef hash and poached egg.  This was lovely and far lighter than I would have expected, with lovely tender strips of meat and comfortingly flowery potato, though the whole thing was slightly too sweet to be perfect.  I couldn't make any complaints about my next dish; guinea fowl with roast winter veg and chorizo.  The Guinea fowl stood up next to the combination of roast swede and onion and the paprika from the sausage in a way that chicken couldn't.  The sweetness of the veg went excellently with the salt, smokiness of the sausage and all the ingredients combined to make a fantastic gravy.  My mum's calves liver with bacon an kale was similarly good, the liver cooked just right, pink and moist in the middle with a lovely crispiness from the outside with rashers of good smoked bacon giving it extra depth of flavour and the irony kale matching the offal perfectly.

Sadly with that and a couple of glasses of wine I was too full for a pudding or a savoury, which really is a great shame.  So much of a shame that I probably will go back just to have some posh cheese on toast and a pint of bitter quite soon.  The one complaint I have of Franklins is that its a bit pricey with the meal for two coming in at £60 with wine, but then that's not really fair.  It seems expensive for a local restaurant, but in terms of the calibre of the cooking its not at all overpriced.  Given that I now live miles away from it and I will only be able to head in on rare occasions this is how I will look at it from now on.

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