On a tip from a reader, I recently checked out a new restaurant in the 17th arrondissement with a couple of friends. Franquette, located near the Place de Clichy, is yet another bistro serving small, shareable dishes.
I’m not complaining – I like this trend – but allow me to voice two suggestions to diners who go to these restaurants. First, ask them not to serve everything you order at once, as they did at Franquette the other night; it’s overwhelming, and the hot dishes get cold while you are working on others. Second, ask for an empty plate for each diner; things can get very messy otherwise.
That said, we loved just about everything else about Franquette. The decor is highly pleasing in what was long ago a candy shop, with beautiful curved-glass windows, wooden cabinets with built-in cutting boards and lots of shelves stocked with plants, books, bric-a-brac and wine bottles.
Philippe, the owner, a former export man turned restaurateur, is all smiles and kindly chat, and the waiter was just as friendly and involved.
Two dishes per person are recommended, and that turned out to be just right.
Our favorites were the grilled octopus with pul biber (Aleppo pepper), baba ganoush, fennel and pomegranate seeds; börek, filo pastry filled with duck confit, served with dill sauce; burrata (a large helping) with artichoke hearts, grapefruit and toasted pine nuts; raw mushrooms with preserved lemons and hazelnuts; and crunchy mixed vegetables. As the season changes, of course, the offerings on the menu will change.
Foodwise, there was only one misstep: the hummus with beets, pomegranate seeds and black sesame seeds, which was just plain bland and distressingly garlic-free. To the waiter’s credit, he asked us why we hadn’t finished it and paid attention when we explained why.
Another small comment: it’s not terribly important, but it was still noticeable that the chef relied on fennel (beautifully prepared, it’s true, just slightly cooked) and pomegranate seeds in a few too many dishes.
Dessert was a divine chocolate ganache with pistachio ice cream.
Thank you, Daniel, for your valuable suggestion. Your tips and those of your fellow readers are always welcome.
By the way, don’t confuse Franquette with a well-known tourist restaurant in Montmartre called La Bonne Franquette.