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“For lovers of fine Italian food...”
Review of Signor Franco Restaurant - CLOSED

Signor Franco Restaurant
Price range: $82 - $82
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Reservations
Description: A favourite in Tunbridge Wells since the 1990s, Signor Franco Ristorante is a vibrant yet sophisticated Italian restaurant, staging wine tasting and live music sessions. Championing use of the finest possible ingredients, head chef Francesco Furriello sources from a trusted stock of Kent-based suppliers, many of whom receive daily deliveries of produce imported direct from Italy. A bright and airy first floor conservatory dining room leads onto an upstairs terrace, which overlooks the bustle of Tunbridge Wells High Street.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“For lovers of fine Italian food...”
Reviewed November 15, 2013

Having eaten around Europe and especially in Italy Signor Franco knows what he's doing in the kitchen.
But before we get to the food the front of house is worth a mention. Slick, attentive without being too invasive, with the reassuring confidence one sees in well trained Italian staff. In other words, everything flowed as it should.
For me there are 2 questions to be answered when gauging the quality of such cuisine; can they cook pasta properly, and can they give it a modern twist without losing touch with its classical roots? The answer to both is a resounding Yes.
We tried the pappardelle and fettuccine and both were perfect, just on the point of al dente. The sauces were heavenly, if anything a little too generous in quantity but we're splitting hairs now.
My wife had some good calamari, yet the star of the meal was the veal, cooked medium rare ( is there another way?) on a griddle so the softness is retained yet combined with little flecks of carbonised yummyness.
Desert was fine in the form of a shared creme brûlée; again generosity was overplayed just a tadd, this time in the amount of vanilla, but that's a such a rare thing to find its almost worthy of applause rather than criticism.
All was helped with a good Frascati some very fine coffee.
The bill was what you'd expect for the skill, freshness of ingredients (the porcini mushrooms will be a lasting memory) and slick service; if one has the full emersion of loveliness then it's a special celebration destination, however any excuse to visit this place should be seized, as one of the top Italian restaurants outside of London.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank David F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

143 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Uckfield, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Doesn't live up to expectations”
Reviewed November 11, 2013

Visited Signor Franco on Saturday evening after recommendation. Was expecting the ‘best Italian food in Kent’, but left disappointed.

On entering the restaurant we were greeted by a very polished maître d (who, curiously looked like the actor Jonah Hill). It was cold outside and he assured us that the dining room was very warm. It wasn’t. I prefer restaurants that are on the cooler side but this was just cold. The somewhat austere atmosphere wasn’t helped by the opera that was playing too loud – it felt like ‘Italian by numbers’: Pavarotti? Check; lots of ‘signor’/’signorita’? Check.

Saying all this, the service here is excellent, if a little overly formal. It’s like fine dining service without the food to match.

Starter (mine) – a bowl of pasta with clams. Watery, and lacked the punch and silkiness of a proper seafood linguine. Starter (wife’s) – deep-fried cheese with tomato sauce. Passable, but samey after a few bites and she left some of it.

My pork fillet was uninspiring, no depth and needed salt. Wife’s beef fillet a small piece of meat that did nothing to delight the senses – sight, aroma, nor taste. Neither dish had enough going on to warrant the £20+ price tag.

One saving grace was the dessert: a rich, perfectly balanced crème brulee. The little plate of complimentary sweet things with our coffee was delicious too.

It wasn’t that S.Franco’s is particular bad, it’s just not that good either, and with a final bill for two (with one bottle of lower-end wine) totalling £130 both the wife and I agreed we’d had much, much better Italian meals at other places for half the price. A pity.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Max_Deacon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saronno, Italy
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“The best Espresso around”
Reviewed October 28, 2013

Popped in for a coffee and was blown away! It was the best I have had in a very long time!!!! I live in Italy and know my coffee and THIS was by far better than anything you can get here. Next time I am over I will definitely say for dinner.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Debspraill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tunbridge Wells
Level 6 Contributor
162 reviews
122 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
“An Unpleasant Surprise”
Reviewed October 27, 2013

We booked a table last minute for last night, a friends birthday. We arrived at 8 and out by 9.45. From the minute you walk in and sit down the whole evening feels rushed. Especially, when we finished dinner, one waiter took the wine glass before the wine bottle was finished so we had to ask for another glass. Another hovered asked after dinner, despite us telling him we did not want a dessert. So we got the bill and left, as did another couple. I did ask the waiter if they wanted the table for another serving, he said he didn't! So much for a different night out, a long slow dinner and relaxation.

We ordered a champagne cocktail 'bellini'... Interesting to say the least, not what we were expecting. Bright pink, sickly sweet. From the taste I would say it was over half a glass of strawberry syrup and cheap champagne. My favourite drink, nothing like I have every had before!!

An excellent menu; if only the food was as good. The muscle starter was nice, but no bread with it. The main course, I ordered lamb, he steak. Due to the over powering gravy, I could honestly not tell the difference between lamb and beef. They both tasted the same! We didn't bother with dessert after the third time of being asked without taking a rest from dinner we decided not too.

At £125 not good value. They even had the cheek to add a 13.5% service charge on for crap service from start to finish.

One place we will not be going back too.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Betty B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sussex
Level 6 Contributor
105 reviews
60 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“The Time Machine”
Reviewed October 20, 2013

Signor Franco's has clientele that clearly knows what it likes. And what it likes is exactly what it liked in 1972. Signor Franco's could very well be Mario & Franco's in that era. Anyone wanting to know what Italian restaurant food and service were like in the 1970's need go no further.

And this does not come cheap.

Unless you are a fan of dreary food served enthusiastically by stage Italians, probably better to give Signor Franco's a miss.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Concordat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EmmaDeTomasso, Owner at Signor Franco Restaurant, responded to this review, October 21, 2013
Hello Concordat; thank you for your review, which surprised me. I am sorry your feel that the menu at Franco's is old fashioned, but I rather think that you are confusing this with traditional italian cuisine. There are many dishes that remain popular for the simple fact that people like them and they become national favourites; rather like our well known roast beef, which has been eaten in England for years. Whilst we like to offer authentic italian dishes, we also like to produce italian food which is contemporary and interesting, such as the halibut with pancetta and butternut squash sauce, which was a special last Saturday. As for my staff being 'staged', by which I assume you imply 'fake', I can tell you that every member of my team at the restaurant is from Italy, bar 2, one of which is myself, so I can vouch for their authenticity. In conclusion, I agree with you that our food is not 'cheap'; what we offer is high quality, which I believe is fairly and competitively priced and am disappointed that you do not feel this to be the case. If you have a modest budget, I am sure you will be more than satisfied with our current offer of £5.00 for our pasta dishes at lunchtime, Tuesday to Saturday.
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