Francie is a buttoned-up Williamsburg restaurant that you should visit when you want to feel cool and casually spend about $100 on dinner. The glitzy brasserie is located in a converted limestone bank on Broadway down the street from Peter Luger and Diner, and it’s staffed by waiters in white blazers who carry around platters of dry-aged duck on beds of purple flowers.
But, surprisingly, Francie isn’t that stuffy. If you want to keep things casual, we’d advise dropping in on a weeknight for a martini and some upscale bar snacks—like a spongy soufflé cake topped with caviar and seaweed butter—before getting on with your life. This place is also perfect for a special night out involving dishes like lobster ravioli, lasagna with duck bolognese, and the aforementioned dry-aged duck. Whether you’re sitting in a big booth or a table in the center of the dining room, you’ll have a nice view of the cooks tending to your food in the kitchen.
Dry-Aged Crown Of Duck
You should absolutely order this $120 whole roasted duck. It’s our favorite dish on the menu and the best plate of duck we’ve had in this city. The skin is perfectly crunchy, and the meat inside is the ideal combination of salty, fatty, and juicy. Every order, which can feed between three and four people, also comes with a side of creamy mashed parsnips, rich soppressata jam, and sauteed Swiss chard topped with pine nuts for some added crunch.
Roman Army Sourdough
Presented like a gift, this miniature loaf of sourdough is the first snack that you should order at Francie. The sunflower spread on the side is similar to a thick, creamy hummus with a sweet, nutty taste, and the whipped lardo is absolutely incredible and shaped like a pig’s cute little face.
These tiny, one-bite delights have the fluffy, rich elements of a soufflé, but they’re small enough to fit in your palm. Sweet and spongy, each little cake is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Lather all three with a dollop of seaweed butter and a small scoop of caviar for a luxuriously creamy snack.
Honeynut Squash Bomboloni
Francie’s bomboloni are small, savory, and filled with sweet squash purée. Topped with crunchy pancetta and crispy onions, the donuts themselves are pillowy soft. You’ll probably end up fighting over of these bite-sized flavor bombs, so make sure you order enough for everyone at the table.
All of the classic cocktails here cost around $17-$20, but they’ll make your meal here even more impressive. The house martini smells like lemon zest, and your server will pour it into a chilled glass at your table. If you’re not as interested in a cocktail, there are also some mostly-French-and-Italian wines by the glass in the same price range.