Down by Hobart's historic waterfront, Frank Restaurant & Bar makes the most of the location with giant windows on three sides, framed with towering black walls.
While the long twilight's pastel painted skies are the main visual attraction, there are also brightly coloured dangling statement lights and tattoo flash on the internal glass walls dividing the space into bar and restaurant.
Inspired by the Argentinian asado, or barbeque, Frank's menu is designed to be served as a shared, whole-of-table feast. Where it improves upon Sydney’s South American churrasco joints is in the inspired list of vegetable sides - finally a South American restaurant where you could comfortably bring a vegetarian. Our party of four kicks off with Tasmanian oysters harvested from the nearby Pipe Clay lagoon. Here they're served Fresca ($4.50/each) with a great, tart chilli pineapple ceviche dressing that leaves a good hole to taste the oyster, and Fire-Roasted ($4.90/each) with a salsa made from chorizo, peppers, garlic and ash that makes a nice change from oysters Kilpatrick.
We start our drinking adventure with Paloma ($60) cocktails presented as a jug with four, salt-rimmed glasses. The friendly floor team steer us towards the Spiced Local Venison ($12/80g) that we opt to share across three rather than four portions. The charred venison arrives doused in mojo de ajo, a lemony green sauce that’s lovely and light. It’s great to eat a tender, summery rendition of venison, which in Sydney seems to always be accompanied by heavier, chocolatey or coffee flavours that I always imagined were needed to cover an iron-heavy, gamey meat.
The venison out-performs our Rump Cap ($53.50/large) served charred outside and pleasantly pink in the middle.
We enjoy it with a bowl of juicy Char-grilled Zucchini ($15.50) enhanced with fresh mint, lemon yoghurt and chorizo.
Mushrooms are also given a makeover in a bowl of Honey Brown, Enoki and Oyster ($16.90) using pickled shallots, goats’ curd and crisp cavolo nero leaves scattered with almond and hazelnut crumbs.
Fresh Tasmanian produce also comes up a treat in Grilled Beetroots ($15.50) wreathed in fresh leaves against pickles, yellow chilli cultural cream and roasted hazelnuts.
With portions at Frank on the small side, we did opt to eat dessert. Charred Banana ($13.90) is exactly what it says on the box – a sweet, char-grilled ‘nana you scrape from the blackened skin and team with mouthfuls of creamy almond and salted caramel ice cream for some hot-meets-cold pleasure.
Despite the something-you-could-easily-do-at-home simplicity, I like it better than the square of Yoghurt and Mascarpone Parfait ($16) adorned with slices of masala poached pear and an almond and thyme crumble.
Frank Restaurant & Bar
1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart
Ph: (03) 6231 5005
Heading to Tasmania? Does My Bomb Look Big In This? has you covered...
The Taste of Tasmania: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.
Breakfast (Hobart): Born in Brunswick, Dandy Lane, Room for a Pony & Macquarie St. Food Store.
Lunch (near Hobart): Willie Smith's Apple Shed & The Dunalley Store.
Dinner (Hobart): The Source, Franklin, Frank & Templo.
Beyond Hobart: Freycinet Marine Farm, Harvest Launceston & Mudbar Restaurant.