Restaurant Review: Frank’s Kitchen

At Frank’s Kitchen, chef Frank Parhizgar hand rolls his own pasta, serves house made charcuterie, and locally sources St. Jacobs lamb and pork that is butchered and cured on site. And, as if that’s not enough, he bakes four types of bread daily: one eggy brioche, a crispy Epi, and a focaccia topped with basil and a cherry tomato; all served warm, alongside ramekins of house made hummus and olive tapenade ready for generous dipping. If the complimentary bread basket is this delicious, just imagine how good the food that you actually pay for must be! You just might have to make a reservation a month in advance to actually find out.

The long wait for a dinner at Frank’s is well worth it. As you walk into the long, narrow space on College St., you are greeted by courteous, friendly, and informed staff, eager to make your visit as pleasant as possible. Rest assured, your water glasses will always remain full. The relaxed atmosphere, from the dim lighting to the exposed brick walls, makes it possible to breathe easy. Frank’s successfully manages to encompass the idea of “casual fine dining.”

Choosing an appetizer proves difficult. Frank’s charges only $15 for six oysters Rockefeller, a relative bargain considering each one smothered in lemony hollandaise, diced bacon and wilted spinach, all without overpowering the salty, briny taste of the oyster itself. But the highlight of the apps is Frank’s fresh spin on the old-fashioned seafood cocktail, which serves up chilled morsels of lobster, crab and shrimp on a brick of ice, alongside calamansi limes. A tangy cocktail sauce and whipped lime-avocado purée provide yet another tantalizing flavour to combine with the seafood.

A refreshing twist on the classic seafood cocktail.

Post-appetizers, an amuse bouche arrives at the table: a shot glass of leek and potato velouté that is as thick and smooth as velvet, paired with spoons filled with morsels of braised boar. You can tell that the food, down to these tiny dishes, is prepared by someone who truly loves what he does.

Mains are delicious, but not quite as inventive as the appetizers. The lamb does not disappoint: it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. The butternut squash risotto offers a surprisingly generous serving of duck confit in its centre. The lobster is, well, about as good as lobster can be.

Crispy duck confit surrounded by rich, creamy butternut squash risotto.

The last amuse bouche, fluffy bite-sized beignet doughnuts lightly dusted with icing sugar and glazed with a honey syrup, are served piping hot. These almost negate the necessity of ordering desert, but not quite. As it turns out, to no surprise, the blueberry crème brûlée is perfect for two to share.

The short, weak wine list is perhaps one of the restaurant’s only real faults. It has the look of a work in progress that may add more interesting choices by the glass over time. For now, a reasonable corkage policy would definitely keep us coming back for another visit at Frank’s Kitchen.

Frank’s Kitchen is open every evening except Monday. 588 College Street (at Clinton). 416-516-5861.

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