Tempus explores a fresh taste of Italy with Franco's new vegan menu
Franco's restaurant in Mayfair has introduced new vegan and vegetarian menus to showcase fresh Italian flavour
Franco’s London has, for many a year, been famed as the West End's home away from home for the finest Italian food. Set in a sumptuous, yet familiar, St James setting, large bowls of seafood pasta are joyously consumed in hearty portions, and your white linen table cloth is adorned in an array of cured meats, cheeses and freshly caught fish of the day.
So you could say it came as a slight surprise when Franco's launched their new vegan and vegetarian menus. Many regular diners would no doubt share my intrigue as to how they would remove the option of parmesan from, well, everything on the menu.
For those that have had the pleasure of visiting Italy in their lifetime (or a very good authentic Italian restaurant), you will have experienced first-hand how Italians celebrate the rich, sun-drenched jewels their coastal country has to offer through cooking. Often marrying land and sea together in delicious dishes like shellfish tossed in deep sun-ripened tomato sauce, or pan-fried fish with root vegetables and morel mushrooms, these dishes are something that Franco's has always done particularly well.
But aside from the seafood and ample selection of red meat that Italy has to offer, the country is also home to some of the finest, most nutrient-rich soils in Europe, which, not only are a crucial component for that vintage bottle of Brunello Di Montalcino you like, but also grow some of the most delicious fruits, vegetables and grains on earth - which Franco's new Vegan and Vegetarian menu have managed to showcase just perfectly. >>
What may read like a fairly 'simple' menu, with starter plates including 'Barley and Avocado Salad' or 'Mixed Grilled Vegetables', soon surpasses itself when the dishes arrive. The brief descriptions allow the ingredients to fully do the talking and, my goodness, they sang almost as beautifully as the Bocelli playing through the restaurant speakers.
Each dish is made up of fresh, vibrant Italian vegetables packed with bursts of unexpected flavour. Comforting soups and perfectly cooked al dente grains, complimented by nutty olive oil. It is food that makes you feel good from the inside out. Even after a very cheeky helping of pudding.
And as Spring has arrived early, it’s the perfect weather for taking a leisurely stroll through Mayfair and trying to nab a spot on Franco’s terrace – one of London’s most popular sun-traps – or failing that the restaurant (equally desirable, of course), and sampling what this vibrant new menu has to offer among the civilised chatter and welcoming clink of wine glasses that has been alive within the venue for many years.
Expect to leave with a spring in your step; satisfied, inspired and feeling that much healthier than your normal Milanese-inspired meal.