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Dining out: Franck's

Published: Friday, July 14 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

In one of my visions of "the fabulous life," I live in a modest but luxurious home on a beautifully landscaped, tree-filled lot in a quiet neighborhood. I have quirky, elegant, modern-but-comfortable stuff in my pretty house, and most important, every night I eat exquisitely prepared food that is, like my surroundings, comfortable with a new twist.

If that sounds perfect to you, too, saunter over to Franck's, one of the valley's newest — and best — fine-dining establishments for a taste of the good life.

The only part of our recent weeknight dinner at Franck's that didn't fit into my vision of what life at its best should be was the way things started. My husband and I arrived for an 8 p.m. dinner reservation, checked in and waited almost 20 minutes for a table. True, our host brought chairs and menus for us to look over while we waited, and several other waiting groups had drinks, but a 20-minute wait for a table on a night when, (1) we had a reservation, and (2) the restaurant did not appear to be even half full and with many servers bustling about, is far too long.

The wait continued after we were seated and ordered drinks, with our first course arriving more than half-an-hour after we ordered it. Things quickly took a dramatic turn for the better from there, however, because that starter was delicious — a fondue of Gruyere, Emmental and Swiss cheese with a sweet, slick sheen of Kirsch that brought out the cheese's warm and fruity flavors. We dipped and twirled it up on chunks of firm, slightly sour white bread, gladly accepting a second bowl.

Before our entrees, I had soup, my husband salad. His was a house salad of snappy-fresh greens, pine nuts and mandarin oranges with a light, intense citrus dressing that enhanced the flavors without excessive sweetness. Mine, the banana-squash soup with wild mushrooms, was about as delicious as a soup can be, silky light-gold nectar flecked with tiny bits of mushroom, whose earthy sweetness was brightened by a dollop of goat cheese. It was enticingly presented in an asymmetrical bowl with a single velvety sage leaf floating delicately on top.

Dinner lived amply up to the starters. My husband had the meatloaf, a round cake of braised pulled pork, veal and chicken sitting on a plump mound of simple, utterly smooth mashed potatoes in a puddle of berry sauce, with a mound of warm blueberries on top. The whole thing just worked, the meatloaf retaining down-home savory goodness that was given a wondrous, surprisingly harmonious spiffing-up by the fruit.

I had the pan-seared snapper, three tender and flaky fillets with a golden sear, propped on a mound of couscous with fresh cauliflower, peas and corn over a light pineapple-citrus beurre blanc that was just the sour-buttery accent the fish needed.

Dessert was difficult: every dish our server described sounded more delicious than the last. We had to choose, though, so I tried the pear tartine, luxuriously, deeply sweet sliced pears over a crust that was perhaps a bit tough, but flaky and tasty nonetheless. My husband had the carrot cake, a unique version with its Napoleon-like layers of spicy-cake rounds and fluffy cream-cheese frosting resting inside a thin, hollow column of dark-and-white chocolate.

Appetizers $7.95-$19.95, entrees $21.95-$30.95, desserts $6.95-$7.95.

Rating: *** 1/2

Where: 6263 S. Holladay Blvd.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 5-9 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Reservations: Encouraged

Phone: 274-6264

Web: www.francksfood.com

Wheelchair access: Easy


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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