My Friend, Fonfon

Chez Fonfon is like a good friend, who always cheers me up.

By Jan Walsh

Chez Fonfon makes good times better, and makes bad times briefly fade away.
Whether I come to celebrate my birthday or to share a final meal with a dying friend, which I have done here twice, Fonfon is always here for me.

Chef Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Chez Fonfon’s flaunts a chic French ambiance, bustling bistro vibe, and Parisian comfort food cuisine, but it is the people that make this place so special to me. They serve me joy! Arriving at the door we are graciously greeted by our hostess, Heather. She lights up as I ask about her baby girl as she seats us at our favorite window table. Our server quickly appears, and we order cocktails: Spicy Strawberry Margarita for Kev and French 75 for me. His swanky margarita is a delightful concoction of 12-year-old tequila, fresh strawberry, lime, and a touch of chili. And my fab Frenchie drink boasts 12-year-old Cognac, lemon, and sparkling wine.

From the La Petite Cuisine menu we order Jambon Au Beurre and the Artisanal Cheeses, which have recently made their debut on this starter list as a cheese plate, rather than having a separate section for cheese. Wise move because even I tended to overlook them before. And as our appetizers arrive, we are treated by the kitchen to Escargots. Oh, my! Thank you very much.

Two slices of baguette, open faced style, are covered with thin, satiny sheets of marvelous, meaty Jambon de Paris. Crisp beets, tart, crunchy cornichon, and lovely lettuces accompany this awesome, rustic ham and butter sandwich. I expect it will ride well… So next time we will put in a to go order, close face them, and take on a picnic, along with the cheese plate.

Two of the three cheeses are from Indiana, Capriole Sophia (goat’s milk) and Trillium Triple Cream (cow’s milk). And the blue cheese, Bleu d'Auvergne (cow’s milk) is named for its place of origin in the Auvergne region of south-central France.

These captivating cheeses are served with Eastaboga Honey, walnuts, and a baguette locally made by Cory Hinkle. Two elongated bricks of Sophia with layers of ash inside. Its rind is wrinkly and mold-ripened, inside the dense cheese is soft, creamy, and pasty with notes of sweet tart citrus. I am wowed by the triple cream. It is the best triple cream I have ever tasted! After encouraging Kev, who typically leaves the cheese tastings to me, to try it, he tries to trade me another taste of his Jambon for more of it. This bloomy rind cheese is soft and smooth in texture, spreading beautifully, bringing forth deep, rich, buttery flavors. I have tried to order online since having it and is sold out all over the internet. So, I will be back soon for more of this deliciousness. Bleu d'Auvergne is aged for a minimum of four weeks, resulting in bluish-green veins, a smooth texture, and an assertive flavor. Its moist and sticky rind envelopes its soft pungent paste, that offers herbaceous, spicy notes.


If you have never eaten escargots, be not afraid. There are no shells on this presentation, instead Chef Stitt’s version is served in a cast iron escargot pan that arrives piping hot. We tear off bites of bread, spread it with butter, dig into each well scooping out the bready escargot bombs, which are bubbling hot in garlic butter atop shallots. Next we catch them with the bites of crusty buttered bread, and devour these divine delicacies, paired with a white Bordeaux. Highly recommended!

During lunch we receive table visits from several of the staff, whom we have gotten to know through the years, along with the treat of cocktail they want me to try: Cool as a Cucumber. Although I tend to avoid cucumber cocktails (most bars seem to try too hard to make my beloved cucumbers drinkable), I am tickled green with this drink. And I love it even more once I learn Heather (who previously served as a bartender) created this thirst-quenching recipe of 13 Gin, cucumber, tarragon, and lime. Some successful restaurants run like well-oiled machines. Fonfon runs like a family full of talent and joy, supporting and appreciating each other, and developing loyal relationships with their guests.

For entrees, Kev asks if he can have his tried-and-true Hamburger Fonfon, knowing we don’t need more food photos of it or even another review… And I order Crawfish Étouffée. Today’s burger comes with comté, grilled red onion, and pickles. It is cooked to order and is accompanied by Fonfon’s fabulous pommes frites, and his choice of Chill Pills beer, once again making him a happy man. My étouffée is a smooth, silky stew with a generous amount of meaty, sweet crawfish, rice, and the Cajun holy trinity of peppers, onions, and celery. In French, étouffée “smother.” Thus, its creamy, velvety, creole gravy coats the crawfish and veggies. And it is crowned with rice, which I pull into each jazzy bite. This dish spiced up my day and lifted my spirits. Catch it if you can!

I never miss strawberry season at Fonfon because it means Strawberry Trifle season here. Today I pair this heap of heaven with Champagne, and share the dessert, not the Champagne with Kev. This superb synthesis of cake, pudding, macerated strawberries, cream, and pistachios has it all: fruitiness, sweetness, creaminess, and crunchiness, from top to bottom and in between. We leave on a sweet note, saying, “See you soon,” to our friends at Fonfon.

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