For an Italian restaurant that is has been opened since 1945, you might be expecting Franco’s to be a stuffy, old-fashioned institution set on their ways. After all, Jermyn Street where the restaurant is situated dates back to 1664 when Charles II authorised Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St Albans, to develop an area close to St James’s Palace and is still a bastion of gentleman tailor shops. However, with their recent refurbishment at the tail end of last year, there is a more contemporary sophistication to proceedings with smart grey woods and traditional botanical-inspired wallpapers adorning the entrance and reception area. Mirrors running the length of the room offers spacious feel to the dining space.
Their à la carte menu is a classy affair with dishes that are not overly complicated yet uses the finest of ingredients. The prime example is the first course of fresh hand-picked crab with avocado and citrus; you genuinely see every strand of crab meat that has been carefully picked out from the shell of the crustacean. The citrusy fruits on top of the dish added to the freshness of the creation. Pan-fried scallops were cleverly flavoured with n’duja to add a stronger punch to the dish and were accompanied with butternut squash.
Pasta dishes are freshly made in-house and not to be missed. They offer both a smaller portion if you intend on having a main course afterward or they can make a heftier portion if you are looking for a quicker business-type lunch. I opted for the pappardelle with mixed mushrooms and black truffle; which was cooked not a second more than required to ensure it was genuinely al dente tasting. A mixture of exotic mushrooms and truffles always works well in terms of a vegetarian option for pasta. However, if you are visiting with any vegetarian or vegan guests, they do have a dedicated menu to ensure all dietary needs are catered for. And they always have daily specials to ensure, regulars can always try something new or what is seasonal in the markets.
The dessert section of the menu is also a must-try part of Franco’s experience. Their classic tiramisu seemed to be the dish of choice looking at neighbouring dinner tables and it just had the right amount of moisture and a slight hint of alcohol. However, the surprising winner on our table was the ricotta and pear cheesecake which had a delightful fruity scent from the addition of the pears. And the addition of the chocolate ice cream made the dish even more irresistible.
If you are looking for a classy Italian affair, look no further than Franco’s in Mayfair.