Frank Restaurant and Bar

Licensed $-$$$   Hat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass icon
1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart
03) 6231 5005
Open: Lunch and Dinner 7 days from 11.00am.

It’s hard not to get enthused about recent developments in the city’s dining scene with any number of new and exciting restaurants, wine bars and cafes taking advantage of the more enlightened and relaxed approach by the authorities to open up in grafitti’d laneways, recycled cellars, pubs that had seen better days, pop ups and, even, suspended 50 metres in the air from a crane. And Hobart has responded to the excitement by packing them out from day one.
Frank is just one of them. Opened in October as their second venue by the very experienced Smolt team of Kif Weber, Scott McMurray and Scott Heffernan, it’s a makeover of the eastern half of the Marine Board Building’s ground floor.

And what a makeover it is with designer Georgina Freeman letting her creative ideas run riot in walls with stylized graffiti, a huge spray-canned mural, amazing life-sized stencils of Day of the Dead figures, floral-patterned partitions, a caged table for groups, a long window counter with stools looking through tinted, floor-to-ceiling windows onto the waterfront and small, black tables pulled up to black banquettes along the walls, all lit from above by an enormous torch sculpture and black and white searchlight-sized lights. Plus, pull open the huge and impressively heavy timber door and you are greeted by a garden gnome with a golden pineapple on its head.

It’s all wonderfully wacky, eclectic and fun.

Weber describes the restaurant’s style as “modern Australian with a South American influence”. In the sense that “modern Australian” means restaurants that are a lot more informal and relaxed than in the ‘fine-dining’ days, and where the food is available all day in various-sized portions to be shared, Frank has got things spot on. And, after six of us shared 11 of the menu’s 18 small dishes, I felt the kitchen had got things pretty well spot on as well.

With mostly Argentine, Chilean and Peruvian influences, the food is as much fun as the décor with lots of lime, tomato and chilli dressings, pickles and marinades and different salsas which, although milder than the originals, bring an exciting and authentic sparkle to dishes ranging from empanadas to venison ribs with salsa picante, black-eyed pea salad with lime and chilli, delicious Peruvian-style grilled octopus, assorted charred vegetable numbers plus salmon, scallops and Spring Bay mussels.

But the stars of the show are the unusual cuts of beef grilled over charcoal on the huge, adjustable parrilla or grill. Chef Scott Heffernan worked closely with his butcher in the lead up to the opening to perfect his hanger, flat iron and inside skirt steaks plus, a new one for me, what’s called tri-tip, which I understand is the tender muscle from the lower sirloin. There’s also that essential at any true Argentine asado, cross-cut beef short ribs, as well as lamb rump and, from the flat grill, salmon, fish, baby chicken and a pork chop, each variously spiced and dressed.

Our choice of the skirt steak came beautifully charred and juicily rare accompanied by small jugs of nicely spiced chimichurri and salsa picante to allow each of us to give our serve as much kick as we wanted.

The drinks menu features a large range of local, Australian and international beers in bottle and on tap, a selection of classic South American cocktails and one of the city’s most extensive ranges of local, domestic, Argentine, Chilean and other international wines with 24 available by the glass.

With a good bottle of Argentine pinot grigio ($69) and an excellent Reserva Carmenera ($47) from Chile, it was a very enjoyable dinner.

Fried pumpkin bread $2.50; mushroom, cheese and spinach empanada $4.50: small dishes and sides $8.00 to $21.00; steaks $22.50 to $32.50; grilled whole baby chicken $39.90; desserts $12/$14.00.

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