Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Newport, RI: Franklin Spa

Unsurprisingly, after our long, drawn out dinners inNewport, we were pretty slow-going in the mornings.  But there were things to do, cliffs to walk, mansions to tour, and we needed to be refueled.  Given the duration and relative fanciness of the previous night’sdinner, we wanted something casual, but (of course) not at the expense of deliciousness.  Franklin Spa showed up on nearly every best-of breakfast / brunch list we came across, so we figured it must be a reliable spot.  So we headed on over and found a bustling breakfast scene.  After a wait of just a few minutes spent ogling the food being ushered past us, we settled into our corner booth, ready to enjoy some straight-up comfort food.

Franklin Spa is the epitome of a greasy spoon - not exactly what I had in mind when I heard the name of the joint.  From the swiveling stools at a counter in front of an open kitchen to the vinyl booths and the no-nonsense yet affable hey darlin’ sort of service you’d expect from a local joint, you just know you're in for an enjoyable meal. 

Most of the time, when I eat out, I am looking to experience new tastes and experiences and discover combinations I’d never have dreamed up on my own.  That’s not always the case for brunch.  Sometimes I am looking to be wowed, but sometimes I just want some comforting food prepared by someone else, someone who has their shit together at the ungodly hour of one p.m. on a weekend day. 

Smoked Salmon Benedict

For me, comfort food at brunch time is found in the form of smoked salmon and poached eggs.  It’s a go-to of mine because it’s relatively healthy (though hello, sodium!), straightforward and simple.  Despite this simplicity, it’s surprising how frequently the dish falls short of its potential.  I suppose I can’t expect busy kitchens to present me with perfectly poached eggs every time, but at the very least I expect to be met with runny yolks.  Diners tend to be well-seasoned egg-slingers, so I put my faith in the short-order cooks behind the counter and ordered a smoked salmon benedict – hollandaise on the side (so sue me, I’m not immune to the threats of butterfat, and it’s impossible to tell just how heavy-handed a kitchen will be with the hollandaise, so I figure it’s best to just apply it, or dunk it, realistically, myself).  The fellas at Franklin Spa did not let me down.  My eggs were perfect – perfectly runny, not a hard bit of yolk to be found, with thoroughly cooked whites.  The hollandaise was lemony and bright, though a bit clunky.  A simple dish very well executed, and served with some well-spiced home fries.

Corned Beef Hash

Robbie opted for the corned beef hash with poached eggs and hollandaise.  What can I say, we were a little sodium-hungry, I suppose.  His plate came teeming with fatty corned beef and browned potatoes. A hangover helper if there ever were one.

Stuffed French Toast with Bananas and Pecans
CF went with the stuffed french toast, which was topped at her request with bananas and pecans.  A solid move.  The battered slices of bread were barely able to contain the mounds of maple-spiked cream cheese within.  This was unabashedly decadent; not as sweet as you'd expect but very difficult to tackle alone.  I was glad I wasn't the one faced with the task, but happy to be able to sneak a taste. 

I didn't photograph CH's dish, but it was a chili and cheese omelet.  CH is to chili as Rob is to hot wings.  If it's on a menu, it's tough for him to look past it and order something else. When he saw it combined with breakfast food, he knew immediately it'd be his.  Bad move.  Learn from his mistake.  Not only did he not enjoy it much, but it repeated on him all afternoon, as if to remind him of his failing.  

That one misstep aside (and I'll put that one on CH, as opposed to Franklin Spa), this was a very solid meal.  It was unpretentious, relaxed and really quite good.  Recommended.

229 Spring St.
Newport, RI
(401) 847-3540

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