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On the Cider Trail – Part 3 Frank’s Cider House and Café at Franklin

Tardis - like, Frank's looks small on the outside but is surprisingly spacious and light inside

Who knew? June 3, was World Cider Day, so I am seasonally appropriate, if not exactly spot on with the date. I have been doing a bit more cider appreciating – this time at Frank’s Cider House and Café at Franklin in the Huon Valley.  The more I visit these establishments, the more I am conscious not only of distinctive differences in the flavour of the various ciders, but also of the differences in the style and character of the venues. What they have in common though, is an atmosphere of casual conviviality. 

Warm and cosy too

Frank’s Cider House is no different. Superficially, it’s a modest affair, in the former St. John’s Church Hall (circa 1870), tucked into the side of a valley and surrounded by apple orchards.  If you are coming from Hobart, it’s just after Huonville and the first flush of apple stands. A friendly goat – it must be the most photographed goat in Tasmania – peers down from the slope and looks as if it’s smiling in welcome.  Inside the building it’s warm, light and cosy and it also has an apple museum. In this case, it’s about Frank Clarke’s family who are into their fifth generation of apple and pear growing in the Huon. Though Frank himself has now passed on to that great apple orchard in the sky,  old family photos around the wall do give us an idea what sort of person he was – upright, war hero, family man etc.  and through them, we also get an idea of what life was like in the Valley.

Menu sourced from local producers

A traditional mechanical apple press

In those days, Franklin was an important town, with aspirations of becoming the third largest town in Tasmania as the Huon River which ran by its front door was the lifeblood of the region. In fact, it is the town with its quaint cottages and one or two substantial buildings which gives Frank’s much of its ambience and deserves a little mention in its own right.

The ladies who make lunch and dispense cider

It was cool and overcast when I arrived and there weren't many people about, but to its credit, Frank’s Cider House remains open in winter and is open every day. The smell of what seems like bacon cooking makes me ravenous, but I'm still trying to stay on my diet, so I enjoyed a mug of warm mulled cider instead. I didn’t dare ask how many calories that had or if it was gluten free – there are gluten free offerings on the menu, but it certainly hit the spot. For their popular Summer Harvest Cider, Frank’s use a sweeter apple – tree ripened Golden Delicious which has a rich flavour. There are also several fruit varieties, but alas, these are not available in small bottles.

An apple grader in the museum
Not just cider - Frank's also features live entertainment

In addition to locally sourced food and cider, Frank’s Cider House also hosts a variety of live entertainment and even has its own in – house trio, The Belle Miners which, like the cider itself –“ is sweet, aged  and  organic” –as they say, and every 4- 6 weeks Frank's hosts a comedy segment featuring some well – known names. Both fit in well with the folksy, homespun nature of cider.

Sydneysiders can sample Frank’s at the upcoming Taste of Manly, held at the beach  between 26 – 27th of May and it is of course available in bottle shops etc. though the experience is hardly the same.

-Look forward to telling you about Pagan soon and hoping that walking the length of Franklin will make up for today’s dietary deviance.