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Franklins


Jon Tseng
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Just a quick note on Franklins which recently opened on Kennington Lane on site for former painted heron. Random rustic French only three bus stops up from my house!

Spotted the 1/5 kicking it got from Fay Maschler in the Standard last week. Partly I suspect on account of the cringeworthy pic of chef napping a grouse, partly because of Maschlers habit of reviewing restos before they've had a snowball in hell's chance of bedding in. Good for her and the Standard to get bragging rights to the first review, but a deplorable disservice to readers. C'est la vie.

Anyhow the grub:

- Lovely slices densely (fudgily) crumbed bread (soda bread?) came piping hot. Alas butter was a little stale.

- Starter lamb shoulder with runner beans. Pile of sliced runner beans pungently dressed with garlic. Topped with a nicely sized tangle of shredded lamb - clearly slow-cooked first then sauteed off for service. Lamb not too fatty but - importantly - not too dry. Well seasoned esp. with all the garlic. Staying the right side of over-saltedness.

- Main roast veal sweetbread. OK size chunk but wonderfully cooked. Brown outside and really nice and tender. Square of boulangere potatos on side. Could have done with some greens.

Overall really nicely executed food. Menu reads well - think slightly toned-down st. john (e.g. menu for dulwich outpost http://www.franklinsrestaurant.com/menu.htm ). Very pleased to find a palatable Frenchy restaurant south of the river. Add on Upstairs in Brixton and Chez Bruce and that makes a grand total of three worthwhile non-Portugese or Halal places to eat in South London!!! :raz: What a shame Glas has fled to Islington...

cheers

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Just a quick note on Franklins which recently opened on Kennington Lane on site for former painted heron. Random rustic French only three bus stops up from my house!

Spotted the 1/5 kicking it got from Fay Maschler in the Standard last week.  Partly I suspect on account of the cringeworthy pic of chef napping a grouse, partly because of Maschlers habit of reviewing restos before they've had a snowball in hell's chance of bedding in.  Good for her and the Standard to get bragging rights to the first review, but a deplorable disservice to readers. C'est la vie. Very pleased to find a palatable Frenchy restaurant south of the river.  Add on Upstairs in Brixton and Chez Bruce and that makes a grand total of three worthwhile non-Portugese or Halal places to eat in South London!!!  :raz:  What a shame Glas has fled to Islington...

Sorry we had to relocate Glas, but we are getting more than twice as many covers on the old Lola's site as we had in Borough Market, so hopefully it will be a worthwhile move.

Question is, how can one persuade Ms Maschler not to come in too early?

Haven't tried Franklins, but I used to live two doors from Mr & Mrs Franklin's house in Stockwell nearly twenty years ago and ate far better in their kitchen than in any local restaurant then, so it could be good.

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partly because of Maschlers habit of reviewing restos before they've had a snowball in hell's chance of bedding in.  Good for her and the Standard to get bragging rights to the first review, but a deplorable disservice to readers. C'est la vie.

Jon,

I think everyone believes in soft openings, readers will be able to discern them by the concessionary prices.

I don't think readers are being done a disservice as long full prices are charged.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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partly because of Maschlers habit of reviewing restos before they've had a snowball in hell's chance of bedding in.  Good for her and the Standard to get bragging rights to the first review, but a deplorable disservice to readers. C'est la vie.

I think everyone believes in soft openings, readers will be able to discern them by the concessionary prices.

I don't think readers are being done a disservice as long full prices are charged.

Yes this is the counter-argument - well if they're charging full price they deserve everything they get. The other counter-argument is that the well-seasoned restaurant critic (no pun intended) will understand if a resto is in its infancy and take account for this.

My view however is this:

1) It is a simple statement of fact that a restaurant's service and processes will improve as it beds down.

2) Therefore the customer experience in the intial few weeks is simply not representative of what the majority of customers (i.e. those who go in the next 11 months of opening rather than the first one month) would receive.

3) Therefore while a restaurant may b "fair game" as soon as prices start up at full whack, surely if you really cared about your readers they would be much better served if the review reflected the experience they were likely to get - ie a view of the operation once things had bedded down.

Or to restate it in a simpler fashion: Resto starts up. Service chaotic in first week. Critic slams restaurant in first week. Service improves later but its too late as poor initial reviews mean buzz never starts out. Resto closes six months later. Owners money, livelihood and dreams down pan.

Of course its a matter of debate, but does it really hurt that much to wait a few weeks (as I note Jay often seems to do). I have the simpleminded view that doing right by your customers is better than being first past the post.

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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To be fair, the Monster Masch did add the following caveat:

"The measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. Two men, whom I took to be the owners, were striding about with brows furrowed. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the kitchen is given time to get into gear, Kennington Lane Franklins could attract plaudits and awards just like its East Dulwich big brother."

That looks fair enough to me.

Personally, I'm not in favour of newspapers reviewing soft openings (which she has, but only positively to the best of my recollection). However, once somewhere's charging full brace on the menu, they become fair game. Can't understand why more restaurants don't use a "50% off food" type offer for at least a few weeks, given it sorts out the teething problems, buys good grace with customers and critics, and gets the location into the conciousness of cheapskate customers like myself.

Incidentally, isn't Ma Cuisine another quite competent French place saarf of the cirrosis? *

(* Cirrosis of the liver = river)

Edited by naebody (log)
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"The measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. Two men, whom I took to be the owners, were striding about with brows furrowed. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the kitchen is given time to get into gear, Kennington Lane Franklins could attract plaudits and awards just like its East Dulwich big brother."

Which is precisely my point... What's the point of giving a rating based on an early-doors experience which you admit yourself real customers are unlikely to receive???

It doesn't help the "real customers"

It doesn't help the restaurant

It doesn't help the critic look less of the prat

I can only guess it helps the bean counters on the paper who want the commercial kudos of being "first thru the door"

"Hi I've just reviewed a car. It wasn't actually been finished yet - they haven't finished fitting out the interior so the seats were really uncomfortable. Because the seats are really uncomfortable the measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the seats are fitted and its given time to get into gear it'll be really good. But I'm going to review it half finished anyway cos I'm the biggest critic in town, I know best and I wanna be first to get in print."

QED

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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"Hi I've just reviewed a car.  It wasn't actually been finished yet - they haven't finished fitting out the interior so the seats were really uncomfortable.  Because the seats are really uncomfortable the measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the seats are fitted and its given time to get into gear it'll be really good.  But I'm going to review it half finished anyway cos I'm the biggest critic in town, I know best and I wanna be first to get in print."

Alternatively: I've just paid £20,000 for a car and the wheels fell off. But, when they find a way to make them stay on, it might be worth a look.

My reaction on reading the Masch review, which I assume will me typical, was: 1) Oh, the Painted Heron's shut down. Shame. 2) Oh, not the one on Chelsea. Good. 3) So this Franklins place has a good reputation among the commuter types. Interesting. 4) So - not quite up to speed yet. Probably won't make a special trip then, unless someone else is extremely positive. 5) Nevertheless, will bear it in mind as an option if I get my malaria jabs and venture saaarf at any point.

Therefore, if anything I am now more likely to go than before I read the review.

(Incidentally, for a truely unjustifiable review, see Matthew Norman in the Guardian on Saturday, who did over a place called Tatlers in Norwich. He turns up for lunch after service has finished and complains about the quiet room, but has no real criticism against the food ("well cooked", "lovely and fresh", "authentic" "succulent and delicious", "glorious", "terrific"). Yet he still gives it 3 out of 10 because the chef was keen to leave, it was raining, and he got lost during the drive from London.)

Edited by naebody (log)
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"The measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. Two men, whom I took to be the owners, were striding about with brows furrowed. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the kitchen is given time to get into gear, Kennington Lane Franklins could attract plaudits and awards just like its East Dulwich big brother."

Which is precisely my point... What's the point of giving a rating based on an early-doors experience which you admit yourself real customers are unlikely to receive???

It doesn't help the "real customers"

It doesn't help the restaurant

It doesn't help the critic look less of the prat

I can only guess it helps the bean counters on the paper who want the commercial kudos of being "first thru the door"

"Hi I've just reviewed a car. It wasn't actually been finished yet - they haven't finished fitting out the interior so the seats were really uncomfortable. Because the seats are really uncomfortable the measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the seats are fitted and its given time to get into gear it'll be really good. But I'm going to review it half finished anyway cos I'm the biggest critic in town, I know best and I wanna be first to get in print."

QED

J

Jon,

I'm sorry but I cannot disagree more. it absolutely benefits the reader, particularly if they were to expect a full service experience to match the full service prices. where does it end, do you expect the customer to not complain if they have a less than experience because they are bedding in? what about an embargo on sending dishes back for the first 6 months? :laugh:

if you say you are up to snuff, charge as if you are, then I as a reader couldn't be more interested in hearing if it's started off a bit rough.

ps. your car example does not apply in anyway. if you charge full price for the car, and claim it is in full working order...

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I'm sorry but I cannot disagree more.  it absolutely benefits the reader, particularly if they were to expect a full service experience to match the full service prices.  where does it end, do you expect the customer to not complain if they have a less than experience because they are bedding in?  what about an embargo on sending dishes back for the first 6 months?   :laugh:

Oh I completely agree, as I said earlier the full price argument is a very compelling one. And of course if you are one of the punters who comes in during the bedding down period (lets say the first month) and gets shoddy service it is absolutely of benefit to the reader that service disruptions are pointed out.

But the distinction I make is in my second proposition:

2) Therefore the customer experience in the intial few weeks is simply not representative of what the majority of customers (i.e. those who go in the next 11 months of opening rather than the first one month) would receive.

i.e. That for those customers fortunate to come after the first month, once opening kinks are ironed out the review is not representative. Do some simple maths - assuming no. of customers in first month is half the ongoing monthly average, then 96% of the customers who visit the restaurant in the first year won't experience the problems.

Now lets assume the review has a shelf life of one year (i.e. the shelf life of an average food guide). That means for 96% of the users, the review is not applicable.

So absolutely, from the point of view of the 4% who pass through the restos door in the first month (and I was one of them!) an early review is perfectly applicable. And desirable. It's just I prefer reviews with a shelf life of a year rather than a month.

Obviously this isn't a point of view everyone shares. As I said at the beginning the twin arguments a) charge full whack get full flak and b) a discerning critic can see thru the opening crap are powerful ones. I just think its an debate that could be completely obviated... If only (like fools) critics didn't rush in.

But to get back to my initial point, anyone unlucky enough to be stuck south of the river do give Franklin's a try, and let us know how you feel. I for one am pretty happy to see it.

cheers

J

PS and speaking of annnual guides, I assume Time Out Food Guide 07 is due anytime now. Anyone seen it yet?

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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PS and speaking of annnual guides, I assume Time Out Food Guide 07 is due anytime now.  Anyone seen it yet?

Got my copy on Monday but not sure when its actually published. Over 400 full colour pages, as up to date as an annual guide could possibly be (full entry for La Noisette for example), every ethnic cuisine covered you could imagine and nice little extras like chef and restaurateur interviews scattered in amongst the reviews. the dozens of contributors include the usual impressive line up of respected experts like Terry Durack, Fushia Dunlop, Roopa Gulati, Jenni Muir, Ian Fenn and of course consultant editor Guy Dimond who is no slouch when it comes to Asian cuisine. Not a bad deal for eleven quid.

I haven't had time to give a the whole thing a close look, but on the downside, I found some of the reviews in the hotels and haute cuisine section rather gushing. When your thinking about spending upwards of £100 a head, fairly meaningless cliches like "staff glide around like guardian angels" (The Capital) and a frankly unsupportable claim that "Ever since (1967) Le Gavroche has not just dominated the London restaurant scene, but has drawn food lovers from across the globe." don't really help. I would also guess from the write up that restaurant Gordon Ramsay (which is not allocated a red star which indicates "very good indeed" this time around) was not visited by the guide this year.

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Picked up my copy. As ever shows perceptiveness and insight, especially in all the nooks and crannies of London dining. I find in general that their views on particular restaurants coincide with a lot of my own experiences. The one exception is Cafes where I disagree with their judgements, particularly on Macaron, Yauatcha and Sketch Parlour.

In general though I'd say best dining guide to London by quite a long way.

With reference to above rant about early restaurant reviews, it's interesting to note their review of Yakitoria, which they note was slated by critics during its teething troubles but has in their experienced has now bedded down nicely.

The other thing I noticed is that there is a clear beef with the corporate tone of Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Holdings running through some of the reviews, and the feature on bookings policies. Unfortunately I suspect I am beginning to agree with them on this one...

J

Edit: although no entry for board favourites Angel Mangal OR New Tayyabbs this year (don't think AM was in last year either) :shock:

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I wisk Franklins well in their new venture - have always enjoyed the East Dulwich original, despite some fairly amateurish service ("What sherries do you have?" - blank look - "Do you have any fino?" "No sorry - we've only got Tio Pepe").

I wonder though whether the new site is able to provide sufficient custom - neither Painted Heron nor the one before that (was is called "Kennington Lane"?) managed, despite good reviews.

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I wonder though whether the new site is able to provide sufficient custom - neither Painted Heron nor the one before that (was is called "Kennington Lane"?) managed, despite good reviews.

Very true.

Cursed restaurant sites in London (off top of my head):

- Cocoon (the one on Regents St)

- Pengellys/Noisette

- Lolas

- Franklins Kennington

- Royal China Club on Baker St

- East@West / Atelier

You will note that the majority of these have 2nd floor dining room (Cocoon, Noisette, Lolas, Atelier). Other common themes: large capacity versus local competitors (Cocoon, Lolas), stuck down a road off of the main drag (East@West, Franklins).

:shock:

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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You will note that the majority of these have 2nd floor dining room (Cocoon, Noisette, Lolas, Atelier).  Other common themes: large capacity versus local competitors (Cocoon, Lolas), stuck down a road off of the main drag (East@West, Franklins).

Altelier is on the ground floor, Le Cuisine in on the first floor. Being stuck down a road of the main drag hasn't hurt The Ivy, Atelier's near neightbour. Cocoon is still open isn't it? Is it doing bad business?

Edited by Andy Lynes (log)
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I think it's a bit harsh to call the site cursed

It's worth noting that, before Monte's/Pengelly's/BjornVanRental's became London's official Cursed Restaurant Location, the title was held by 66 Baker Street. Yet Galvin seems to have done okay.

Also, who would bet on success for a first floor dining room in a parking-resistant residential area that's a 20 minute walk from the Tube, with an entrance hidden in a dark side alley that's beside a pub. Yet it's done Assagi no harm.

Lots of restaurants close within a year of opening, and lots of restaurants set up hermit-like in the shells of restaurants past. Just because the latter cannot attract customers, it is not rational to blame some hoodoo also affecting the former. It could be that (like Pengelly's, or Anda in Baker Street, or Lolas in its latter days), they were just crap.

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Altelier is on the ground floor, Le Cuisine in on the first floor. Being stuck down a road of the main drag hasn't hurt The Ivy, Atelier's near neightbour. Cocoon is still open isn't it? Is it doing bad business?

Yes, quite true, but I think what really hurt East@West was having the resto stuffed away upstairs.

Cocoon just never seems to have settled... seems to reinvent itself every couple of years (maybe thats just endemic of big west end venues though - viz mezzo or sugar reef)

Wonder if the second floor thing had any effect on Sutton Arms?

Lolas - you're right it did have a good run (the main prob was when they shipped Hywel whathisface in and tried the haute thing for a bit - Morfudd I'm sure will know more). I just feel that its always had a much lower profile in the area than the space deserves - it just isn't that visible from the street.

As well as Assagi I'd note Morgan M seems to break all the rules in terms of being miles away in the middle of nowhere in a place where u /definitely/ wldnt leave ur car unattended. maybe its the lack of local competition (for selfsame reasons).

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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A solitary lunch here today:

Starter - beetroot soup. Nothing special - good flavour but underseasoned and was lacking something to lift it above the ordinary (eg creme fraiche, cumin or something would have been good). £5

Main - grouse cooked perfectly rare with a good bread sauce (not usually a fan) and sprouting broccoli which were a tad overcooked. Fantastic grouse though and £18 which I believe is quite good value?

Pud - lemon curd ice cream - huge portion with lovely honeycomb biscuit thing. About £6?

I drank a half bottle of 2004 Cotes du Rhone (£9.50) with the starter/pud and a glass of Noble One (£6.50) with the pud.

Service was efficient and friendly but there were only two other tables in there when I arrived at 1.45pm and I heard the waitress apologise for the delay when serving mains to one of them which doesn't bode well. Also it's clearly quiet for them so far - perhaps the Masch-effect?

They have a 12-7pm deal of two courses for £11.50 and three for £15 with (I think) 3 choices per course - looked tempting but I had to have that grouse!

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Main - grouse cooked perfectly rare with a good bread sauce (not usually a fan) and sprouting broccoli which were a tad overcooked.  Fantastic grouse though and £18 which I believe is quite good value?

An addendum - dined at St. John on Saturday night and the grouse was £28 (and not quite as good as the Franklins grouse from what I tasted - slightly too rare for my liking). My choices of razor clams for starters and crispy pig cheeks with dandelion stalks were however fantastic - one of the best meals I've had there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A third lunch on Friday (well it is on the way home) with Mrs Winot and I'm pleased to say it really seems to be bedding down.

I had the excellent value set lunch (2 courses for £11.50; 3 for £15 with 3 choices per course). This was showing a surprising Iberian influence for a restaurant I'd always thought of as British:

Starter - baby squid stuffed with chorizo/potato and aioli - I've cooked a variation of this at home with larger squid and this knocked mine for six with seared sweet and tender squid offset by the filling - lovely paprika notes from the chorizo.

Main - poached pork with clams. Quite salty but perfectly tender pork. Would have been nice if the chef had gone the whole Asturian hog and included some white beans but the sides of cabbage and new pots were fine.

Pud - toffee pannacotta - did what it would have said on the tin if you could get tinned pannacotta.

Mrs W went alc with 6 oysters and roast pork belly with roast fennel and black pudding (and no pud, the abstemious thing).

We drank a very good bottle of Californian pinot noir (Cuvaison 2004 at about £35) and the total bill was £80 plus service including coffees.

Edit to say that the wine mark-up seems to be 100% which is pretty reasonable, no?

Edited by Winot (log)
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