Francie is Banking on Your Return to Fine Dining
Francie is a new self-described destination restaurant in Williamsburg located down the block from Peter Luger Steakhouse, which has been THE Williamsburg destination restaurant for over a century.
Despite not even being open a month, the team here is confident enough to know what it has inside 134 Broadway: a money maker. And it’s not just because Francie has found a home inside a former bank.
Whenever you think about the success and failure of a new restaurant, you start with who’s leading the kitchen. That would be Executive Chef Chris Cipollone, an industry vet who catapulted the late Piora to a Michelin Star in its first year - and every year after until it closed. That’s a really hard thing to do by the way. It’s like making the conference championship your first year in the league and then every year thereafter.
But you don’t read new restaurant openings to learn about what happened in the past at someplace else. You read because you’re hungry and considering buying or renting or just visiting Williamsburg and so you want to know why it is that Francie is worth visiting.
The menu is always the first place I’d start, and like me, your eyes probably gravitate to the most epic dishes on the menu. That would be the $175 côte de boeuf followed by the $98 dry aged crown of duck followed by the. Both dishes are meant to be shared between two people or one person who might be famished I supposed.
Duck can be a tricky dish to pull off and make the centerpiece of your menu, so when you see a chef offering one with swiss chard and soppressata jam it’s a mark of confidence and years of honing their craft. Please pause right now to really take in what I just said. Soppressata. Jam. on dry-aged duck. Together as one. If you don’t believe me and want to get all your news from influencers, check out this review from my main man @mattbruck, who also enjoyed the pumpkin cacciatore and pear tart dessert in case you were interested.
For starters, carbs in all its glorious forms, from sweet to savory to WTF why have I never had this, will have you forget all about that magical sourdough starter kit you enjoyed so much at the start of the pandemic. The monkey bread at Piora was a must for kicking off a meal, and Cipollone has some intriguing doughy options like the parsnip bombolini and souffle cakes with seaweed butter and caviar you should really include during your trip to Francie. Following this with more carbs in the form of pasta is completely acceptable, and the farfalle with chestnuts and sweetbreads is the dish we need to help push us through the final chill of a fading winter.
I’d keep talking about more dishes, but discovery onsite is half the fun. The other half is obviously eating and drinking. You’ll likely start with a classic cocktail like a Brown Derby or keep it casual with a can of Ramona wine. There’s a decent selection of wines by the glass and craft beer as well. For dessert, a New York cheesecake, chocolate gateau, and ice cream sundae for two are the options you might struggle with to provide a sweet ending to a big night. I won’t struggle however since at 37 my body can no longer handle dairy, so I’m opting for the gateau because it involves the words chocolate and hazelnuts.
In the age of pandemic dining, Fancie can be as fancy as we want it to be. It’s a spot that offers a dress up date night worthy $800 Chef’s Table dining experience for 4 people along with halibut almondine and $600+ bottles of champagne for take out if you’re in a sweatpants mood
On a street known for a steakhouse where nothing ever changes, Francie’s will have you stopping into its reimagined house of finance to open a new account dedicated to your appetite. Just be ready to bring the funds to make it happen.