Late last year, I was invited to a great little launch for a new restaurant opening in… my building. The Victoria Gardens end of Victoria Street is, how shall we say, rather bereft of decent dining options. Sure, I could take a 15-minute stroll up past Church Street for an acai bowl from LBSS or $3 banh mi from a Vietnamese bakery, but, you know, I’m lazy. So let’s just say I was pretty stoked about this impending opening.
Fast forward nine months and… I have a baby! Jokes. No, something much more exciting has happened. After all manner of the usual delays – and some not so usual due to the residential location – the promised eatery, Frankie Says, has finally arrived, just in time for my move-out date. Them’s the breaks I guess.
As the name implies, Frankie Says is all about chilling out with friends over good food, great wine and an Aperol Spritz or two, while enjoying the al fresco atmosphere riverside living allows. Why am I moving again?
The latest venture from experienced Melbourne hospitality duo Megan Phillis and James Meehan – the folks behind Carlton’s Café Italia and street food outlets including Filipino favourite, Hoy Pinoy – delivers what it promises, and then some. Due to hold-ups with gas, the menu is currently on the smaller side and the venue is only operating during the day, but updates will be made over the coming weeks and, by summer, I am confident in saying Frankie Says will be an Abbotsford hotspot from am to pm.
The light, airy restaurant features a lofty roof, tiled cooking station, pale timber floors and tables, an outdoor deck – soon to be set up with lounges for sunset Campari sipping – and a yet-to-open mezzanine level for private dining, or general restaurant overflow. Hot tip: this is where to go for that glorious river view.
As for the food? Frankie Says is all about making the most of the incredible produce available, with much of the largely Italian fare designed for sharing. Think stone-oven pizzas, pastas and a build-your-own approach to antipasto. Pile on the cured meats and cheese, please. According to Megan, the lunch and dinner menus will have around five specials daily to hold the interest of Acacia Place residents and workers.
The current breakfast offering is solid, with a bunch of classic-but-with-a-twist dishes, locally roasted Melba coffee, plus a handful of healthy smoothies and juices. On my first visit, I had the eggs benny with prosciutto cotto, smashed av and wholegrain sourdough, drizzled in Hollandaise. The serving is huge and it was pretty darn delicious – my only criticism is that it could have had a wee bit more hollandaise. I also stole some of my friend’s decadent truffled eggs, served with crisps and some of the best hummus I’ve had the good fortune to taste.
Next trip, I had the buttermilk pancake with mascarpone and berries. That’s right: pancake. One single, gigantic, deep dish pancake arrived, lightly syrupy and topped with three types of berries, plus pepitas, a modest scattering of edible flowers, and a dollop of everyone’s favourite breakfast cheese. I am not typically a sweet breakfast kind of gal, but this was the business: light, fluffy and not at all overly sweet.
I also had the Super Foodie smoothie, a zingy and refreshing blend of kale, ginger, cashew, mango and gogi that definitely tasted more like juice than grass. But, if I weren’t pretending to count calories, I would definitely be gunning for the Bacon Me Crazy. That’d be bacon, maple, banana and cocoa, folks.
Another great thing about Frankie Says is that the sundrenched outdoor seating area makes it super dog-friendly. So if your date’s boring you, there’s always something cute to look at.
Image credit: Sabine Legrand for The Urban List