While residents have been saddened at the departure of several local favourites like The Fish Shop, Paper Bird, and Billy Kwong, Franca Brasserie on the ground floor of the Ikon building, occupying the former Fratelli Fresh site, has quickly become popular since opening earlier in 2019.
I spoke with Franca’s owner Andrew Becher, who is also a partner in Pelicano in Double Bay, about being the new kid on the Potts Point culinary block and why locals can’t get enough of his elegant yet casual modern brasserie.
Why did you choose Potts Point to open a brasserie and in the Ikon building, in particular?
Potts Point is renowned in Sydney for its tight-knit local community. And European style brasseries cater to locals, who may visit multiple times a week to find exceptional food, atmosphere and personalised service. As there was no brasserie-style restaurant in Potts Point, it made for the perfect location. We offer upmarket casual eating, which may seem like a contradiction, but it is very apt for us. We chose the Ikon as it’s the largest and most populated building in Potts Point, so it comes with a thriving built-in community.
Where did you find inspiration to create it?
We wanted to respect both the architecture of Ikon and the character of the local area while also channelling Parisian charm. In the development process, I travelled twice to Europe and twice to the States over a year to experience the world’s best brasseries. I visited London, Berlin and Paris and Los Angeles and New York. I took inspiration from London’s iconic brasserie The Ivy in Covent Garden. I loved the glamorous room, the formal service and the fact that while it is a traditional brasserie, it’s also experimental, incorporating Asian dishes.
Sounds like a tough gig – but Franca’s dining room is really stunning, how did it come together?
My vision was “Grand Brasserie’, but I wanted to create an urban feel, using raw textures, such as leather, timber and marble. I worked very closely with Josh Clapp from Steel and Stitch Design and Dirk Anderson as the architect for the construction and interior fit-out stages.
How would you describe the cuisine at Franca?
The name Franca comes from the phrase Lingua Franca, which refers to the language used among those who didn’t speak one another’s mother tongue in the Mediterranean. Our cuisine is inspired by a wide range of regions and cities, from Normandy to Provence, and Nice to Paris, as well as the neighbouring Mediterranean coasts.
Is there any particular dish for which Franca is best known?
One of our most important values is sourcing sustainable Australian seasonal produce. Our meat is grass-fed, our fish is line-caught, and our vegetables come small farms and the markets. The Wagyu bavette with eschalot, broad beans and jus and the heirloom tomato & stracciatella tart have become favourites. Our patrons keep coming back for our passionfruit soufflé!
My vegan friends have been delighted with your menu!
Potts Point is such a diverse suburb, and there are a considerable number of vegans in the area. Vegan food done well is incredibly creative, and we access fantastic produce, so I felt it was vital to be accessible to all of the community. Right now, vegans and non-vegans are enjoying in-season grilled asparagus, sautéed asparagus with frieze lettuce salad.
The bar has become a destination in itself. Do the locals of Potts Point use it? And what is your signature cocktail?
Award-winning bartender Alex Raclet curated our cocktail list. The Franca Old Fashioned is our signature cocktail. It is representative of Franca because it’s a classic with a modern twist. The locals use the bar as both a pre-dinner drinking space or just a great place to meet a friend or grab a bite to eat. We have the full dining menu, or a selection of smaller dishes.
Are you a Potts Point local yourself, Andrew?
I am now! I have an apartment upstairs in Ikon. I grew up in the Eastern suburbs, so have strong memories of dining in Potts Point. There has most definitely been a generational shift. The suburb has become more premium in terms of real estate prices, and, with this, the demographic has changed.
I’ve heard you like to keep it local by using Potts Point-based businesses?
All of our staff at Franca wear shoes from Spring Court in Potts Point, as part of their uniform. When I’m not at Franca I also love to dine at The Apollo and Cho Cho San.
Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve at Franca?
We’re excited to be ringing in the New Year with the Franca Brasserie’s NYE Gala Dinner, which includes a bespoke signature menu and a three-hour beverage package including Ruinart ‘R’ Brut champagne, Premium French and Australian wines, cocktails and beer. They’ll be live jazz and entertainment until 2 am. It’s going to be fun! $495 per person.
Franca Brasserie is open for dinner seven nights per week and lunch from Friday to Sunday at 81 Macleay Street, Potts Point.