The Franklin Room | River North | Bar, American, Bar/Lounge | Bar
The Franklin Room

The Franklin Room

Andrea Bauer

Whiskey-focused subterranean spot serving American, pub-style food with an occasional Asian touch

Our Review

This whiskey-focused subterranean den traffics in relatively American, pub-style food with an occasional Asian touch. There are some dishes almost too disturbing to contemplate, like mushroom risotto with black rice, barbecued eel, and Parmesan; shrimp wrapped in puff pastry. Some of the best things on the menu are the simplest, starting with a small selection of house-cured fish. There's no better expression of the kitchen's deftness with the deep-fryer than a bowl of crispy ginger slices. Taut, bouncy fried shrimp cakes are balanced with a cool but spicy aioli. Lightly battered fried smelts have a delicate, greaseless texture even with a heavy dusting of cheddar cheese powder, a weird combination with a startling blandness. Slices of roasted eggplant come close to achieving peak meatiness. And brussels sprouts offer a welcome change served halved with oyster mushrooms and smothered in pesto and Parmesan. The demarcation between the agreeability of the appetizers and the implausibility of the entrees isn't so clear with a skillful presentation of broiled Spanish mackerel. But things go off the rails with a towering fried bologna sandwich. Some plates are constructed with ham-fisted sloppiness, like a dried-out, withered lamb shank. The fryer fails when it comes to chicken, but its most egregious use occurs with the production of a greasy, fatty chicken-fried rib eye. While the Franklin Room's food consistently straddles the line between gross and oddly compelling, its main reason for being is the 300 different bottles of whiskey on hand.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$
Payment Type: AmEx, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

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