**CLOSED*** as of February 2010
This restaurant has long been one of my favorites and is perhaps one of the strongest reasons compelling me to start this blog. When food is done this well, ya gotta get the word out.
We like to go on Fridays. Our usual server, Rachel, is extremely knowledgeable about their variety of wines and will take all the time you need getting you comfortable with your order. If you can't decide among their many many wine choices, they do daily flights that allow one to taste three different types of wines, usually threaded together by region or grape. Really a treat and I've learned a lot about wine. Such as that I like Malbecs. And Black Kite, which is a fruity, special reserve pinot that is grown here in California.
Today I went with the Malbec. We usually go with a cheese plate, but our partner in eating crime just had a baby so we were down an appetite. Instead, we started with the seasonal Prosciutto de Parma with Organic Melon and Mint. The melon was ripe, not too sweet and a perfect foil for my favorite thing in the world, prosciutto. Grew up on it. Wrapped around foccacia, or sweet summer melon, it's definitely one of g-d's gifts to people-kind. My BH, as we've established, is a fairly big eater so he had a bowl of the Summer Minestrone, which is really a hearty corn and bean soup in cheesy broth. One thing they routinely do to perfection here is soup.
I followed the melon and prosciutto with a small plate dish, the Maine Lobster and Saffron Risotto Cake. The lobster sits atop this lovely biscuit textured cake of creamy risotto. It's crunchy on the outside and soft but textured on the inside. The lobster has a delectable drizzle of the truffled lobster butter, that the cake sits on top of. The textures and flavors all work together to make this dish one of my all time faves. I keep wondering how much longer I can enjoy it before Laurie takes it off the menu.
BH had a new dish. The Seared Dayboat Scallops over Zucchini Corn Pesto. It replaced an amazing shrimp dish, but I think this dish may be one better. So hard to tell when one has a mouthful of perfectly cooked scallop in a creamy basil sauce. The corn "pudding" which seats the scallop is a wonderful texture. It's a cross between a polenta cake and actual pudding. Firm, yet creamy and laden with buttery flavor. Yum.
Desserts here are simple, and consistently good, though unremarkable. Usually a chocolate pot de creme or a small pudding with berries. The restaurant offers a Prix Fixe Menu that is a pretty good deal, if that day's offerings line up with what you're craving.
Desserts are prepared, I believe by the Franklin Square sister restaurant Luka's Pub, which I will get to on another day. This scallop dish reminded both my BH and I of the amazing scallops we have had at Absinthe in San Francisco, which is home to a local favorite Jamie Lauren. I predict Chef de Cuisine Laurie Hurlebaus will make a name for herself in no time. This girl's got game.
Franklin Square Wine Bar, 2212 Broadway, Oakland. 510.251.0100