Franco Choo's

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Special occasions call for special dinners, and I was waiting for such an occasion to visit Franco Choo’s. This was again a recommendation, spotted via social media, and I was keen to try it out. Luckily a birthday was happening, which was the perfect excuse to indulge in a fancy restaurant experience.

Franco Choo’s is located on High St, in Prahran, just near the Chapel St intersection, and is a tiny ‘hole in the wall’ place that barely seats about 20 diners at a time. They have a great Prezzo Fisso deal if you book online, where you can have 2 courses for $42 or 3 courses for $52, both with a glass of wine. The only catch is that you need to be there by 6pm and vacate by 7:45pm, but this worked fine for us, because we had nothing else planned for the day.

We arrived at 5:55pm, wanting to make the most of our booking, and found that we were the first ones to arrive. We were greeted by a lovely waiter with an Italian accent, and I immediately felt that we were in for a treat. He explained the deal to us – Franco Choo’s doesn’t have a menu, instead they have seasonally changing dishes that are written up on a blackboard, meaning that they always cook with seasonal produce. It was already sounding delicious to me, especially when the menu was explained to me in an Italian accent!

We nominated our 3 dishes each, I obviously chose the vegetarian options which were a vegetable stew and a pea risotto, and the other half chose an Italian sausage and lentil entrée and a roast beef dish. For dessert we chose one of each option so we could share; a pana cotta and a ricotta crostata.
We started with some bread to prepare our palates for the meal ahead. We were served some fresh ciabatta bread, with a dipping oil of EVOO and sweet balsamic vinegar. Both of these were of the highest quality, and we could immediately tell that this was a restaurant that took pride in its ingredients.

Soon after the entrées arrived. I was expecting a traditional tomato based stew, but instead I was pleasantly surprised. I was greeted with a Roman spring vegetable stew filled with peas and broad beans in a creamy white sauce. With both peas and broad beans being in season, they were both sweet and full of flavour.

The other half received a poached cotechino sausage served with braised puy lentils, mustard fruit and amaretti. When the non vegetarian comments on how good the lentils are, rather than focus on the sausage, you know the dish must be good! He also said the amaretti tasted like something his Nonna used to make, which is probably one of the highest compliments he's given to a chef!

Mains arrived promptly after we finished the entrées and we were again served some traditional, hearty Italian fare. I received a creamy pea risotto which was filled with rich flavours of butter and parmesan. I dared not think of the cholesterol content of this dish and instead focused on how delicious it tasted.  The skill required to perfect the texture of a risotto is one that I strive for, and the chef at Franco Choo’s had mastered it to a tee.

Our carnivorous main was roasted beef short ribs, served with cauliflower purée and Borettane onions. The verdict was that the beef was cooked so well that it was falling off the bone, and the vegetables were full of flavour, making it another hearty dish.

We had also ordered a side of green beans with truffled pecorino, and these were delicious. It is a hallmark of the produce when something so simple, and made with so few ingredients, tastes so good.

With entrées and mains out of the way, it was time for dessert. We had half a dessert each, so I got to try both options. First there was the ricotta, pine nut and chocolate crostata. I had no idea what a crostata was, but it turned out to be a tart. It was served with a berry sauce and pistachios, and all the flavours combined to be a great dessert. It was not overly sweet and the variety of textures gave it the right level of complexity.

The second dessert however, was the real winner. The vanilla panna cotta, served with poached rhubarb and lemon cake crumble was amazing! I am a big fan of panna cotta, and this one was no exception. The lemon cake was also the right level of tart, and contrasted the sweetness of the panna cotta.

The entire experience at Franco Choos was very special. We received amazing service, amazing food, and went home very happy patrons.

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1 comment:

  1. I loved your review with many delicious details. Thanks for sharing.