FRANCIS: does the Star Street newcomer live up to the hype?

There’s a chic new spot in Wan Chai that’s bringing Tel Aviv cuisine to the Star Street neighbourhood. FRANCIS, with its name in block letters across the entrance, is home to well-portioned meze and a thoughtful selection of wines. Founder-manager James Ward – previously with The Ocean, Aqua and Zafran – is heading up the space together with chef Asher Goldstein, a Tel Aviv native, and sommelier Simone Sammuri.We’d accepted an invitation to sample the menu, and went with four sharing plates split among the three of us: hummus, falafel, baked halloumi, grilled octopus. We also had the smoked carrots and kafta, and ended with knafeh.

The food was good. The falafel had a smokiness to it, along with a nice herby flavour. The baked halloumi came with pomegranate molasses, with the sweetness a good complement.The octopus was excellently done, hearty and not too chewy, while the kafta was savoury and filling. The carrots, though simple, were buttery and comforting, and a unanimous favourite that evening.
The knafeh was an interesting dessert – a mingling of flavours with mozzarella, orange blossoms, and pistachio coming together on a bed of dry noodles. We also appreciated the wine menu, a well-curated selection featuring bottles by small producers, including those from Lebanon and Hungary. 
At HKD50 to HKD160 a plate – for the above – and bellies satisfied to full capacity, it’s more than good value dining at Francis. The ambience is on point, with low-slung lamps and a chill playlist, plus high ceilings and open-window counters bringing a roominess to the space. Service is attentive, with James and Simone making the rounds to ensure all was well, and either one ready to offer recommendations and tell us more about the wines.

You may have heard about FRANCIS already; it has quickly become a foodie favourite since it opened in January, and topped lists of new places to try among our own friends. In Hong Kong, one of the toughest parts of making an entrance in the restaurant scene is living up to the hype - and we're glad to report that, in this case, FRANCIS does. 

Restaurant Details
4 & 6 Francis St., Wan Chai
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