Thursday, April 12, 2012

Five Courses c/o Fond

T. contacted me soon after I posted my list of New Year's Restaurant Resolutions and gave me an idea of a few she was interested in checking out. From there I went with Fond. When the original date rolled around I think we both had kind of forgotten about it. So we rescheduled and refocused, and this time we actually followed through. I took the Broad Street Line subway down to South Philly and then made my way to East Passyunk. I was a little early so I walked in large loops until closer to the time of our reservation. It was a very nice evening. South Philly is weird to me. Not bad, just different I guess. Somehow the houses feel even closer together. And do any of them have any green space? In any case, I arrived first at Fond. The main server was sort of just standing at the door, looking up and down the street. The space inside is kind of small, so I wondered if this was his routine for being kind of 'out of the way' while his tables are eating. In other words, he stands by the door to avoid the appearance of hovering? But the flip side of that is that when you're walking into the restaurant you're immediately noticed. Once T. arrived there were some decisions to make. I had taken a look at the menu and saw a few different things I'd like to try, but the five course tasting menu seemed like a pretty good deal. We asked our server what was included in the meal, which he was happy to tell us more about, and at the end of his recitation we decided that it was a great way to go. The first course was a small shot glass of butternut squash soup. The soup itself was nice and rich, but frankly I'm never as blown away by butternut squash soup as others, and the shot glass presentation, while a nice serving size considering the other dishes, wasn't particularly original or inventive.
Next up was a tuna crudo. Or I believe it was tuna. Nice presentation. Delicately cut slices of fish. A nice little sauce and smattering of watercress. I didn't totally dig the seeds.
Next up was the special pate of the day. This was quite a generous portion, as we each got our own slab. I very much liked it and gobbled up a majority of it on crispy chewy pieces of toasted bread with a daub of the accompanying mustard. I did manage to save just a little, which they were happy to wrap up for me (it became part of a rather eclectic lunch the next day).
We then tried - a fish. I think it might have been skate? I'm hoping that T. can help me out. It was in a five spice foam broth, which reminded me more of old bay seasoning than anything else (this also was the overall taste I got from Morimoto's similarly described spice concoction). I remember thinking the fish was nicely cooked.
Then there was the palate cleansing rasberry cardamom sorbet. A delightful little treat. The cardomom was especially surprising. I also lusted after their spoons a little.
Next up was the Berkshire Pork Belly with Okinawan sweet potatoes, escarole and dijon jus. The pork belly itself was quite rich and fatty. I'm not as accustomed to its having one side with a definite crunch - the top layer was quite solid. I actually peeled it off and ate it separately from the lower, softer and fatty levels of the meat, and I'm not sure how I could have managed it better. While it was a different protein and restaurant, the pork dish reminded me slightly of the meal I had at Noble a few years back. The meat itself was good, but the accompanying elements of the dish (sharing the Okinawan sweet potato as an ingredient) didn't really make it pop for me.
And finally dessert two ways. Tangerine cheesecake and warm chocolate brownie. I was a much bigger fan of the chocolate brownie with coconut chai sorbet than of the cheesecake. I can't recall if T. felt the same or the opposite.
I'm a little confused about my overall feelings for the spot. I liked the atmosphere of the place (it's very, very small) and attitude of the staff was quite friendly. It was a Wednesday or Thursday, so we were one of only about four or five tables, and I do wonder if I would have been as happy with the atmosphere if the place had been packed. It was clear that the menu had a passionate chef behind it, but I'm not sure that I was as blown away by the entirety of the meal as I might have hoped. The pate and the fish courses were my particular favorites.

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