Franck Pécol is one of Shanghai’s most interesting food entrepreneurs. His “empire” now includes a bakery, a bar cum restaurant, and a pizza restaurant. His first venture in the city, however, was a bistro that is simply named after its owner: Franck.
Franck is a restaurant that very much transplants the Parisian bistro to Shanghai’s former French Concession. Located in Ferguson Lane on Wukang Road, the restaurant décor, and atmosphere could easily be in the 10th or 11th arrondissement of Paris. Despite being listed very highly on various lists, and guides, Franck is a restaurant that is all about simple food, great wines, and a lively, jovial atmosphere in the dining room.
A big part of the experience at Franck is the wine. Due to his passion for wine, Pécol has put together a very fine wine list that certainly is the best of its kind in China. No matter whether you like natural wines or not, this is an impressive list. From the wines of Emmanuel Reynaud, to those of Mark Angéli it offers a selection of legendary wines from France, alongside much more easily approachable, and affordable natural wines.
To go with the wines, Franck has hired a chef who has spent years with one of Paris’ best chefs: Jean-Francois Piege. With someone who worked alongside Piege for so long, you might expect to find similarly complex food here at Franck. That, however, is not at all what is happening here. Instead you get bistro classics that are served without any pretence.
A great start to a meal here is the paté de campagne. Classic paté is full of flavour, and has a texture that is soft, and almost juicy. This is not one of the dry, hard patés that you can find all too often. Similarly good is a foie gras terrine. Served in all simplicity, it is silky smooth, perfectly seasoned, and again technically impeccable.
A dish that best shows the spirit of the kitchen here is the beef tartar. Hand-cut, and liberally seasoned, it is very tasty to say the least. The chips that come with it are good, but the main role clearly belongs to the beef itself. Apart from the tartar served at the Commune Social, we have trouble thinking of a better tartar in Shanghai. As far as classic tartar is concerned, this is probably the best one.
Franck is a restaurant that almost immediately transports you to Paris’ bistros. It is a place that has a soul, serves simple, but well-cooked food, and has no ambition to do anything else. Sitting here with some charcuterie and a good bottle of wine is a great way to spend an evening.