“The ethos of Franca is about being open,” says restaurateur Andrew Becher (Pelicano) referring to everything from its light and open space to its welcoming service and its “open” interpretation of French brasserie cuisine.
Executive chef Alexis Besseau (Bathers’ Pavilion, Est) and sous chef Jose Saulog (Glass Brasserie, Tetsuya’s) have created a menu that twists and turns its way through regional France and nearby Mediterranean coastal havens such as parts of Italy. “We started with a French technique,” Becher tells Broadsheet, “but we eventually want to take it a little bit off course and do a North African dish, take inspiration from Catalan cuisine, or even find influence in Arabic or Greek cooking.” The restaurant name is derived from lingua franca, a word for a common language used by speakers of different native tongues that helps them bridge cultural divides.
At Franca, a nicoise salad is interpreted as yellow fin tuna sashimi dressed with a colatura (anchovy sauce) dressing, confit heirloom tomatoes and garnished with grated cured egg yolk and smoked paprika. Elsewhere on the menu there's spanner crab tagliatelle, Wagyu bavette, and shared plates stacked with a rack of lamb or a bouillabaisse pasta.
Staff in pale linen busy themselves as sunlight filters through lightly draped bay windows. Jazz fills the air as guests enjoy meals from velvet chairs surrounded by walls of “modern vintage” art chosen by Becher. “Potts Point is quite a sophisticated area with a strong art deco influence,” he says. “I already had the concept in my mind for Franca, I just needed to find the right location.”
There’s a big vino list, about 200 wines from Australia, New Zealand and France’s key regions, including some interesting options from the Jura. Cocktails are by award-winning Alex Raclet (Rockpool Group, Pelicano). We like his Trocadero, made with Beefeater 24 gin infused with Earl Grey, Campari, Italicus Bergamot, lemon oil and garnished with basil.