Some years ago when I worked in New York, Franchia was a frequent stop for their wonderful teas, their delicious vegan menu, and their soothing atmosphere. Since we moved out of the area, Franchia has been amongst the things I miss the most. So when I had the opportunity to visit The City recently for the first time in six years, Franchia was one of my first stops.
Happily, it’s still as I remembered. Their low-key entrance opens into a light-filled, multi-level space in cool neutral tones accented with dark wood and richly colourful textiles. A Korean accent is evident in the decor, serving ware, vegan dishes, and the teas.
A couple of favourites are no longer on the menu, like green tea noodles (fortunately still served at P.F. Chang’s). I did find several interesting new additions — both food and teas; they’ve updated the décor, and they now place a convenient waiter call button on every table.
I considered ordering their yummy Royal Tea Tray, comprised of a variety of appetizers and desserts. They also offer a lighter Afternoon Tea Tray with a good selection of sweets, and there’s a full à la carte lunch and dinner menu.
The highlight, of course, is their excellent Korea green teas — first-, second-, or third-picked — served in a Korean cup with overlapping lid and removable strainer. The waiter prepares the first cupful, then leaves a thermal carafe of hot water at your table for re-steeping. My dining companion and I paired our dumplings and our tofu with roasted kabocha pumpkin with the sweet grassiness of Franchia’s second-picked Korea Wild Green tea.
Although their hot tea menu is not large, it is well chosen to complement their food menu. They also offer tisanes, a variety of iced teas, and a “tea latta” made with soy cream. I did consider ordering one of these for dessert, but ultimately chose their mochi — an old favourite — instead.
Franchia’s combination of tasty menu, well-made teas, peaceful surroundings, and exceptional Park Avenue people-watching make for a very pleasant afternoon or evening. Their small retail area lets you take home pretty tea ware and wonderful teas.
12 Park Avenue (between 34th and 35th), New York
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