Dining Out: Franchia

A few weeks ago I was in New York City for work and in between client meetings I was able to squeeze in a dinner date and slumber party with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

For our dinner spot, she suggested a vegan restaurant just a few blocks from her apartment. I've done a lot of vegan dining in Los Angeles (Sage, A Votre Sante, Cafe Gratitude), but hardly any in New York, so I was looking forward to trying something new.

The restaurant was called Franchia and it was right at the corner of 34th Street and Park Avenue.

Inside, the restaurant has stadium style seating. The tables are on three tiered levels.

As we were taking our winter armor off (coats, hats, gloves, scarves) I noticed the ceiling above our table. I had to do quite the back bend to capture this. It's a tropical teal color with pink and purple flowers.

As soon as we were seated, the waitress brought us the menu. My friend had been dying to do the prix fixe menu with someone and I happily accepted the challenge. The deal included hot tea, soup or salad, two appetizers, an entree and a dessert.

We started with hot tea, ginger for her and Korean plum for me. I chose the Korean plum tea because it was the first Foursquare tip that popped up when I checked in. The flavor was awesome - sweet, but not too sugary tasting. I wanted to swim in it. Both of our teas were served in beautiful lime green ceramic mugs.

For the starter course, my friend chose the "clam" chowder. Instead of clams, Franchia uses seitan and mushrooms. I snuck a few spoonfuls and the broth was so creamy. It was a bit uncanny how much it really did taste like chowder.

My first plate was the pumpkin noodle salad. I was intrigued by the idea of pumpkin noodles, but they didn't have a pumpkin taste at all. The nicest part of the dish was the crisp red and green peppers used as garnish.

For the second round, we each received a plate with two appetizers - two scallion pancakes and two buffalo wings. I loved the rectangular ceramic serving dishes.

I like my scallion pancakes with a bit of a crisp to them (I've been spoiled by the best scallion pancakes at Jumbo Seafood in Newton Centre) and these were limp.

The buffalo wings were an odd texture and actually tasted more like they were slathered in BBQ sauce. They had a very smokey flavor.

My friend chose the soft tofu with kale in a ginger sauce as her main event. She said, "The tofu is cooked really nicely and the veggies are all super fresh and crisp."

I selected the tofu steak (I think mostly because I love the idea of being able to order "steak") which was tofu and mushrooms tossed in a BBQ sauce. For a dish with only a few ingredients, I thought this presentation was kind of adorable.

The tofu steak came with a side of brown rice which helped to fill me up.

The grand finale was the rice pudding. You didn't get a choice of dessert, so I just had to be brave and try this, although I know I don't like rice pudding.

It turns out, it was actually red bean pudding (even less appealing to me), but the best part of the dish was the almond ice cream on top. That was easily the most delicious thing we ate all night.

Overall, the Franchia prix fixe menu is a great deal. It's $32 dollars per person and in exchange your receive four hearty courses, plus tea. My one gripe was the way they paced the food. At one point we had three courses on the table at the same time, including our large tea mugs. We were seated at a small two top and there just wasn't enough room. It really felt like they were rushing us through the entire meal. The more it happened, the less I enjoyed being there.

Tell me, do you know of any good vegan restaurants in New York?


Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

More from Molly

Pop.Bop.Shop. In the News

12 Park Avenue
10016 New York , NY
United States
New York US