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Good ol' time at Franklin Square

My friend and I stopped in last week to try the place out. We sat at the bar and my first impression was a lack of warmth and style in the room. Our server was friendly and attentive throughout and aided us in some lovely pairings. We had a butter lettuce salad that was light and basic. Seared foie gras on parsnip puree - very tasty and nice flavors - I thought the foie was slightly over seared however. Cannelini beans with spinach, and wild mushrooms - was earthy, brothy, and divine. Boudin blanc with lentils - really pretty much perfect. Lentils were rich in flavor and I suspected had veal demi in them. Dessert we had a chevre cheesecake with fleur de sal caramel - super tasty and not at all cloying like cheesecake can be. It's a good after work place - hang with your friends place.

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    Franklin Square Wine Bar
    San Francisco Bay Area - 2212 Broadway, Oakland
    (510) 451-4677

    1 Reply
    1. That's odd that your first comment was on the decor since it doesn't seem to have marred your overall experience with the food. I actually think the decor is nice and is warm and comfy (the colors are warm, such as the burgundy accents and the wall art is decent enough). I also think it's a nice new addition in the area and a great place to hangout after work. Good wine selection and nice small plate munchies.

      1. Link

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        Franklin Square Wine Bar
        2212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

        1. Ate here for the first time tonight, was surprised at how good it was (especially for the money). Had a simple lettuce salad with candied walnuts and blue cheese; duck confit with hazelnuts, arugula, and poached apricots; English pea risotto with pecorino, and braised rabbit with porcini, fava beans, and pappardelle in brodo. Plus truffles and Meyer lemon tart for dessert.

          Everything was good - unfortunately, the menu invites comparison to Chez Panisse Cafe, with which it can't compete, but everything was competently done. For a neighborhood restaurant, and at its price point, it's really good. If I'm going to nitpick, I'd say the confit could be a little fattier and the brodo was a touch too salty. Portions were larger than I expected for the price ("Plates" run between $10-15 and were somewhere between appetizer and entree size, good for sharing). Dinner for 3 before tip (olives, cheese, one salad, 3 "plates", two desserts, and 4 half-glasses of wine) came out to about $90.

          3 Replies
          1. re: daveena

            Franklin Square didn't remind me of Chez Panisse Cafe at all. I guess there's a vague family resemblance among the entrees, but Franklin Square's are about half the price:

            http://www.fswinebar.com/pdfs/Dinner.pdf
            http://www.chezpanisse.com/pgcafemenu...

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Awesome. Eater SF totally just made fun of me for pointing out what I thought were similarities in style between the two restaurants.

              None of the previous reports I'd read on FSWB made me think of Chez Panisse Cafe either, but I happened to order dishes that strongly resembled ones I've had at CP. So my thought process for some of them (the salad and the pappardalle in particular) was, "this is pretty good... not perfect... why isn't it perfect... because it's not as good as the very similar dish I had at Chez Panisse". And yes, for the price, I'm not expecting Chez Panisse.

              1. re: daveena

                That rabbit dish in particular, yeah, I can see your point.

          2. I had dinner there tonight with my Mom. We shared a plate of housemade mortadella and a cheese plate, which were both well put-together and tasty, if not fabulous. I had the halibut on a bed of fava bean, onion and fingerling potato ragu. The halibut was delicious -- on the first bite I thought the herbs were going to overpower it, but the flavor mellowed just before that point. The favas and red onion in the ragu were great; the potatoes were a little al dente for my taste -- not under cooked, just firmer than I personally prefer. I had a bite of my Mom's risotto and didn't think it was good at all: it was dull and starchy tasting (not in a good way) and the portion was much too large for such a stodgy, lackluster dish.

            While I enjoyed the food -- or at least, my food -- the service was lacking. Even though we were at a table in the back near the service area we practically had to tackle someone to get them to take our order; our waitress probably spent a total of a minute at our table, and the woman who deposited a bottle of water on our table was surly. We had to flag someone down again to get the check, and then I practically had to throw the bill and the credit card at the hostess to get them to run it. Sometimes it's nice not to be rushed, but they could have been a little more sensitive to the fact that a lot of their patrons had a curtain to catch down the street. I'm going to give them a pass this time because they were slammed with a virtually sold-out event at the Paramount, and lots of people sitting outside on this warm evening, which meant they were really on the run. I think they're going to have to think about the logistics of having waitstaff running up and down the long, narrow corridor of the restaurant to the serve the outdoor tables, especially on busy evenings.

            1. Had an uneven dinner here last night.

              Truffled rabbit and pork terrine - I think this was served a little too cold, as it took a while for the flavors to come out - couldn't really taste the truffles - overall ok.

              Risotto cake - this was really good - the cake is flatter and thinner than most (looked like a burger), which looks somewhat less attractive, but gives you way more surface area, and therefore, way more crunchy rice. My fave of the night.

              Foie gras on french toast with balsamic strawberries - interesting concept, but the foie had an unpleasant astringency, and I found the sweet spices on the french toast to be overkill.

              Crispy duck confit with arugula, cherry compote - I don't know why they chose to use dried cherries in the middle of cherry season - confit was a little dry.

              Moroccan spiced pheasant with farro and apricots - the pheasant was extremely dry. The farro was absolutely delicious - I would have happily eaten an entire bowl.

              Didn't like any of the wines in the pinot flight last night (two were excessively brett-y).

              So, they're uneven, but when they're good, they're good, and the prices are low enough that even when there's a miss, it doesn't seem like a huge loss.

              1. It was so pleasant out last night after our dinner around the corner at Vo's that we decided to hang out at FSWB's sidewalk patio for some wine and cheese. Very pleasant and relaxed. People at the next table were playing Scrabble. The half-glass wine option makes it easy to try different things.

                They've reformatted their wine list so it's much easier to navigate. The Web site's much more informative, too.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I was there for the first time this evening. While we didn't eat (wine only), I liked the wine list format - 1/2 glass, glass, carafe, and bottle. The carafe was a perfect size for 2 people that want more than a glass, but not a bottle. The 1/2 glass option is nice, too (although I didn't see the pour size).

                  1. re: lmnopm

                    The glasses are pretty big, I think both full and half pours are larger than at most places.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I haven't been to Vo's since it reopened. How's the food?