I first met Matt Franklin through his cuisine...I wrote in April of last year, when I first visited Franklin's then-new restaurant, Farro. Under the neon, tile and blue Miami Vice lights at 240 Union in Lakewood, he made me amazing lobster corn dogs, served in a plastic basket with homemade coleslaw and a bag of Fritos. Another favorite from another year: a simple, peasant plate of littleneck clams, chorizo and potatoes in a broth of garlic, lemon and fresh thyme. It was a hot summer night in Denver in June 2008, and the room was full of rich men in golf shirts drinking hundred-dollar bottles of wine, but I might as well have been on the Côte d'Azur. By then, Franklin was cooking on the other side of town, at the Wine Experience Cafe out in the boonies of the Southlands development.
Franklin soon moved on, bailing out of the Wine Experience and throwing in with another serious industry veteran -- John Richard, late of the Palm, Gallagher's, Starfish and Las Vegas before that -- to open Farro last November in a different suburb (Centennial this time), in a different setting (straight-up strip mall) with a different focus. Franklin had done Californian and he'd done fusion, he'd done Mediterranean and a sort of Froggish but borderless nouvelle. He'd done goofy and he'd done gimmicky, and he'd done a lot of what could've been called New American. And now? Italian. Strip-mall, suburban Italian.
Farro was a great restaurant then. It served a plate of meatloaf that I still sometimes daydream about, especially when facing down a plate of meatloaf from somewhere else that just doesn't quite measure up.
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And now, there's more good news from Farro.
After months and months of waiting, the house has finally decided to go from dinner-only to serving lunch. The new service just started Monday, and Richard (who holds the place in a 50/50 deal with Franklin) told me he was hoping to let it go for a week before announcing it, just to give his people a chance to get used to the new schedule.
But you know what? The word got out pretty much the minute he opened the door for lunch, so I don't feel so bad about blowing his cover. Not only that, but Richard said that even with just one or two services behind them, he's feeling good about the new hours.
"It's what? Three days after the New Year?" he asked. (Well, five, actually, but who's counting?) "No one is breaking their resolutions yet, but we'll get 'em."