after our delightful lunch at sacred grounds, we spent the remainder of the frigid afternoon in a bookstore, resting up for our super decadent dinner at fond. we had no idea what to expect, as the menu at fond changes often, but we knew it would be interesting. as luck would have it, too, this night proved to be a re-launch of sorts, as chef amy "mad genius" zupanci has decided to take her restaurant in a slightly different direction. we can't speak to how the restaurant was before (see sauce or rft for older articles about chef amy), but we can say with confidence that she's pointed her restaurant in the right direction for the future!
after sprinting from our car to the front door of fond (it was friggin' coooold outside!), we settled up to the greeting-podium-thingy and waited to be seated. while the larger group ahead of us made its way into the dining room, we got a chance to scope things out. there's a small but cozy waiting area across from a four-stool bar. the lighting is just dim enough to put you at ease but not force you to squint, and the color palette somehow invokes both a sense of the modern and the rustic. since clark made a reservation ahead of time to request a special table, we were seated in a spacious corner booth that gave us a view of nearly all of the dining room. all of these things really put us in the mood to chow.
our waitress was nice and, most importantly, helpful. after we informed her that we are vegetarians, she made every effort to accommodate us (directing us to the night's veg options, making trips to the kitchen to check for dishes with chicken stock), and she was attentive without being overbearing. one thing we didn't care for was their insistence on handling our napkins for us. lois particularly took umbrage with this, and she's right to want the wait staff to let us use our napkins as we like (or not at all, by gods!). aside from this teeny quibble, everything else went quite well, and we were particularly delighted to see chef amy flitting about the room, smiling ear to ear, doing everything she could to make sure each table was happy and taken care of. chef amy rules. really.
the philosophy at fond is to provide local, ethically-sourced ingredients, which results in insanely delicious food. the thing is, we expected it to be rich food because of chef amy's french influences, but the food was anything but rich. the server started us off with an amuse bouche of quail egg (clark's first time with quail eggs!) and a tomato chutney/relish. mmmm. now we understand why so many folks are gaga over quail eggs, as those little buggers deliver huge flavor in a small package. before our appetizer arrived, we noshed on some hazelnut foccacia, which was delightful but not extraordinary, and some kind of blue corn and sesame crackers, which were truly fantastic.
we both wanted to take home a bag of crackers with us, but we soon forgot about such a request after our appetizer of kale torte arrived. we're freaks for kale in all its forms, and though we were hopeful, we were also cautiously guarded, expecting the kale to be dominated by the pastry. but it wasn't. the kale was the centerpiece here, and boy did it shine! combined with the other interesting components--golden raisins, pine nuts, and chili oil--the kale torte quickly vaulted into our list of favorite local foods. in fact, after a few bites, clark announced that it was already in the top five appetizers he'd ever had. by the end of the appetizer, clark had moved the appetizer into the top five things he'd EVER eaten. it was that good. and, yes, that is a food halo above the torte.
we were truly buzzing when the entrees arrived. lois went with gnocchi, which was garnished with spinach, melted leeks, creme fraiche, and fried fennel (an addition the chef made when we asked for no italian beef). the result was maddeningly delicious. finger-licking delicious. sop up the remaining sauce with your napkin (take that, wait staff!) and suck off the sauce delicious. and the portion was huge. we had no idea what the portions would be like, which is why we ordered two, but now we know that we can just split an entree in the future and save some dough (cuz, y'know, fond aint exactly cheap). clark went with the mushroom risotto, which was a blend of shitake and oyster mushrooms, perfectly cooked risotto, and a mind-melting, shitake-parmesan tuile (which is a sort of fried cheese brittle). divine. it seemed like the food just got better with each bite, and we never felt disgusting or oily or bloated like we sometimes do at fine-dining restaurants (see: harvest). we just felt good.
though we didn't have room in our giddy but tired bellies for dessert, chef amy sent out some bite-sized sweets to send us on our way. one was a mini white chocolate pastry with cinnamon, and the other was a mini carrot cake that delivered more perfect flavor in one bite than any other slice of carrot cake we've had. wow!
in the spirit of full disclosure, we were drinking some ridiculously good wine (two princes riesling), but the food is strong enough to speak for itself, and we intend to test this theory sometime very soon. that is, as soon as we can save up the money.