The Franklin hotel – hidden down a Knightsbridge backstreet like a beautifully chic secret – has recently become home to Michelin-starred Chef Alfredo Russo. Bringing his world-renowned knowledge to a menu that combines simplicity with sophistication and quality seasonal ingredients, guests could not be closer to Italy than if they flew there (though that is currently neither advisable nor indeed possible).
The face of the Franklin could (frankly) not be more lovely. With seating for just 30 diners, it is an intimate space that combines an achingly cool palette of Italian marble – greys, black and white – with enormous mirrors, crushed velvet seating and huge windows that take in the greenery of Knightsbridge. Opulence with exquisite taste and entirely grown-up elegance!
The food and drink
The Franklin’s food is about as Italian as it comes – just a few ingredients treated simply and without gimmick: you will find familiar classics such as beef tartare, pasta alla vongole and braised veal. We opted for the “Tartaccio” di nocciola e tartufo (duet of beef tartare and beef carpaccio served with hazelnut and black truffle, £21) and the Polenta “Concia” (polenta with sautéed wild mushrooms and Toma cheese, £16) to start. Secondi (we felt too shy to go the full four Italian courses) was a decadent sounding Faraona con zucca e castagne (low-temperature guinea fowl, squash and chestnuts, £28) and an even more decadently priced Merluzzo nero dell’Alaska (poached black cod with vegetable caponata, tomatoes, olives and capers, £38). I can’t resist a cannoli, so I didn’t – finishing with the Cannolo di mela e canella (baked cannoli filled with apple, hazelnut and cinnamon served with granny smith apple sorbet, £9) and my dining companion went equally traditional with her Semifreddo al caffe (coffee parfait with vanilla sauce and bitter espresso sorbet, £9).
The food was, for the most part, comforting if not overly surprising – my black cod and cannoli were particularly tasty. Though there were a few missteps that seemed odd for such an esteemed chef: the guinea fowl could have done with a touch more texture on the plate and became overly sweet thanks to the squash accompaniment, whereas the espresso sorbet was indeed bitter (as advertised) and difficult to finish. Where cocktails were pleasant, the wine menu (and sommelier) was truly excellent – the 2017 Rioja “Vivanco” (£12.00 per glass) and the 2015 Valpolicella Ripasso Superior e Classico – La Dama (£14.00 per glass) were particularly outstanding!
The Franklin Restaurant is a beautiful place to while away a few hours; the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the setting is stunning. Though the food may not be groundbreaking it is true to its Italian heart and worth a visit for anyone seeking some southern European-style comfort eating.
The Franklin, 24 Egerton Gardens, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 2DB ; Tel: (0)20 7584 5533; email: email@example.com;