Chez Fonfon is not a typical Birmingham restaurant. But the master chef of this bistro, Frank Stitt, is not a typical Birmingham chef either. So far I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Fonfon twice, and each time I’ve felt like I’m 21 again, sipping French wine, downing mussels, and marveling at the great city beyond the cozy walls of New York’s Pastis. Fonfon is upscale, yet familiar. I absolutely loved the bar area—high stools and cute silver hardboiled egg holders. For dinner I was fortunate enough to taste a lot of my friend’s bites. On the starter front, we ordered escargot for the table. I’ve never been a fan of snails but this escargot was very tasty—bursting with garlic and oozing butter. I opted for the swordfish which was grilled perfectly and accompanied by a very light artichoke-caper sauce. I thought it was very pleasant, but it didn’t blow me away… probably because it felt too healthy! The coco au vin shined. I do not think I have ever tasted more tender a chicken. The red wine sauce was rich but certainly not overpowering. Desserts were a mixed bag—the German chocolate cake was moist but nothing special, the pot de crème on the other hand was velvet flawlessness. The cocktail list boasted fun drinks with silly names like “Orange Thing” and “Dijon Sidecar.” I downed an impeccable gimlet—tart and fresh. I enjoyed Fonfon so much that I petitioned my co-clerks to have lunch there the next day. One of my co-clerks raved about the Fonfon burger which I was especially eager to try because this burger had taken the coveted “Best Burger Birmingham” title this past year. Unfortunately, I was slightly disappointed. It was a very good burger and there was nothing wrong with it per se. The burger itself was juicy and well seasoned and the veggies were fresh. But, in the words of my favorite blonde burger critic, Victoria, the burger was not burgasmic. I felt it missed that special umph that makes a good burger an outstanding burger. Altogether though, Fonfon is a fabulous place and I look forward to heading back soon! Note however—the restaurant does not take reservations and is extremely crowded.
Relatively Expensive ($$$). 4 out of 5 spoons!