Photo courtesy of La Bonne Franquette
So many new restaurants in this city revolve around “food concepts” rather than “good food”; inflated marketing claims instead of down-to-earth friendliness; “design” instead of cosiness. La Bonne Franquette, a French brasserie on Chausseestraße in Mitte, is remarkably un-Berlin in that it manages to offer good food and amicable, speedy service in a pleasant, warm atmosphere. There are no gimmicks, no pretension here – just classic French cooking served up in truly generous portions.
Starters range from a salad with warm goat’s cheese and honey (€8.50) to a well-executed salmon tartar (€9) to the famous oeuf cocotte (“egg in a glass”) with bacon and porcino mushrooms (€6.50). The main courses are hearty, traditional fare: the must-have here is the trio of expectable bliss - entrecôte-salad-frites (€18). A sizeable slice of beef with a choice of sauce (homemade béarnaise is thoroughly recommendable) is served with home-fry style frites (for you connoisseurs, they are very similar to White Trash’s Fuck You Fries).
The beef tartar also comes with fries and salad (€14) - a reincarnation of an old-school dish that comes pre-mixed but well-mixed. They ask how tangy you’d like it beforehand. Other classics on the regular menu are the magret de canard served with honey gravy and a savoury gratin dauphinois (creamy potato gratin) (€18), and the sautéed scallops, wrapped in bacon and served on a bed of brazed leaks (€18). A vegetarian plate is available for €10.
La Bonne Franquette’s desserts are reassuringly time-tested, but are dishes rarely done well in Berlin: crème brûlée (€7) and a moelleux au chocolat whose velvety, moist centre melts perfectly on the tongue (€8). And, like any self-respecting French brasserie, it also boasts a quality wine list - which, in this case, mostly originates from the excellent Mitte wine store Les Climats.
With loads of new offices sprouting in the area and a simple midday menu comprising two- (€10) or three-course (€13.50) meals, La Bonne Franquette is well-poised to profit from well-heeled lunch customers. The recently shuttered Le Gavroche on Oderberger Straße attempted something similar, to no avail; La Bonne Franquette seems to be getting it right – and is perhaps profiting from a more sophisticated, moneyed clientele in Mitte.