Frankie’s in Lenox
Superb Osso Bucco
By: Charles Giuliano - May 30, 2023
It was a glorious Memorial Day weekend.
With summer-like weather in the 80’s.
We joined friends for dinner on the porch at Frankie’s in Lenox.
On the way to Tanglewood or Shakespeare & Company we have passed by countless times.
This proved to be our first but certainly not last visit.
At 5:45 we arrived early but the young hostess insisted on a less than ideal table.
Stating that he had made a reservation some weeks in advance Marty was not about to be dissed by a twenty-something.
The manager proved to be more skilled and amenable allowing us to be seated at a prime table overlooking busy Main Street.
A handsome young man brought a basket of fresh bread and poured olive oil on our individual plates.
I was distracted by the upscale parade of tourists many with dogs of all breeds on leashes. It was yet another instance of location, location, location.
It proved to be a go-to restaurant for our friends. Driving from North Adams it’s a bit of a schlep but worth it and then some.
Service from our middle-aged waitress was efficient, friendly and professional. What a pleasure to visit an upscale restaurant and not encounter a clueless college student. We were made to feel very special.
Our friends ordered an appetizer of fried artichokes and wine. There were five, long-stemmed chokes and they generously offered one. I regularly make out-of-the-park steamed and flavored artichokes but this was my first encounter with a fried version.
In general, I am very particular about wine and rarely order it by the glass. In general you are getting over charged for a mediocre house wine. By self discipline I confine myself to one fine bottle from my cellar each weekend. Ordering a draft beer, however, is always reliable. It’s better to have a good beer than a so-so glass of wine.
There was a salivating menu to select from. Like my dad I often try to duplicate at home dishes that I enjoy in restaurants.
Lately, I have been trying to perfect pasta carbonara. That was a strong option which I will likely order the next time. But I was leaning toward osso bucco.
Whenever it’s on the menu I invariably order it. My first was some years ago when spending time with Mom in Palm Beach. She always opted for the best restaurants and was a hoot to travel with first class.
Marty touted the osso bucco which he ordered. I thought I was ordering lamb shank. The plan was that we would share our dishes. What arrived were two orders of osso bucco.
Noting my surprise and confusion the waitress said “I hope that isn’t going to be a problem.”
It wasn’t. Au contraire.
Of all the versions I have tried, even making it at home, Frankie’s was remarkable.
That includes having it at a superb, back alley trattoria in Bologna, the epicenter of fine Italian cuisine.
The portion of slow braised veal shank was plated over a bed of polenta. It was surrounded by a wine reduction of sliced red and yellow peppers, asparagus pieces and green beans with garlic and spices.
Marty took home about a third of the meal while I wiped the plate with bread.
Astrid went on line and viewed the menu so she planned in advance to order chick breast Alla Frankie’s. It was sautéed with roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts in a garlic white wine sauce served with sautéed spinach and soft baked polenta.
She liked the dish but found the chicken a bit dry. That’s often the case with chick breasts which is why we prefer to cook with skinless thighs.
Wendy, a veteran of Frankie’s, ordered trout almondine. Trout, partially deboned and butterflied, dusted in flour & sautéed with almond lemon butter sauce served with potato gratin and haricot vert.
She much enjoyed the dish and Astrid said that she would order it during our next, much anticipated visit.