Franco Choo's exudes a confident simplicity that comes from an innate sense of sophistication and style. From the purest images of an olive branch suspended from antique coat hooks, to the wall length scene of the three- wheeled 'Ape' taxi-trike that's staggering under the weight of produce for the Market in Sicily, Franco Choo's feels right
Owner Steven Choo's partner, movie director Franco Di Chiera was the catalyst to Steven's enduring passion for all things Italian. The pair spent a year living in Rome in 2004 as Franco worked on yet another film - that defining period saw Steven turn away from a successful career in landscape architecture and immerse himself in the culinary world.
Initially Steven created a 'hit list' of Melbourne's finer chefs, who he offered to work for, in order to fast track his commercial kitchen experience. These generous chefs offering Steven 'sabbaticals' was the proving ground for his career change. After two years he then got serious and started his culinary studies while working at Alevansi in Toorak and Fremantle's George Street Bistro - both jobs saw him elevated to sous chef positions within months. Three years on and a return to Melbourne was the chance to put his dream into action and so Franco Choo's was born.
Franco Choo's is a tiny 'hole in the wall' just a few metres off busy Chapel Street at the Windsor end. It houses two tables outdoors and eight indoors, including a shared communal table. Distressed wood and rustic finishes have ensured the place feels lived in and comfortable like a neighbourhood bistro - a place where locals gather and strangers slip in to enjoy the intimate feel, and Steven's eclectic food.
The ever changing dinner menu is a clever marriage of, rustic Mediterranean and Asian influences - dishes on any given day may include - Pan-fried calamari, salsa verde, potatoes, olives - Braised lamb shoulder, red capsicum, capers and white wine - Grilled chicken, corn custard, bok choy, ginger rice and for something sweet - Coconut crepe, caramelized banana and black sesame seeds.
The wine list took Steven several months, travelling around Victoria sourcing many locally grown Italian varietals.
Any evening will see Steven flowing between the stove tops and the front of house ensuring that he is the regular face and identity of Franco Choo's. Franco ChooLocation
: 179a High Street Prahran Open
: Tues - Sat evenings onlyBookings
: 03 9529 7310