Monday, March 1, 2010

Au Fond Memphis is Open! (Kind of)

When chef Ben Vaughn announced mere weeks ago that he was expanding his fresh, French-inspired culinary vision from Grace Restaurant into a more family-friendly offshoot, I was completely intrigued by the concept: high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients (I've eaten at Grace and I know they work with extremely conscientious farmers) at moderate, affordable prices ($6-$8).  I had humongously high hopes for the place.  When I ate there today, I was not let down: not only was the food delicious and well-priced, the portions were generous as well.  It was a too-good-to-be-believed holy trinity of taste, satisfaction, and economy----but believe it, because it's true.

Au Fond's facebook page tipped me off that today was their soft opening, so my dining companion and I played hooky from school to check it out.

When you walk in, there is a big empty space right now.  Eventually, it will house a little market, where you can buy all sorts of cheese, bread, coffee and tea.  Menus are written on old doors hung above the counter, where you place your order.  Today the restaurant was serving both breakfast and lunch when we got there around 1:30, but normally, they will serve breakfast at breakfast time, lunch at lunch time.  We took advantage of the potential for both at the same time and each ordered off different menus.

I got the house breakfast, $6 (two eggs, any style, herb potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, and brioche) and my co-hooky-er got the Turkey Hot Brown, $8, which turned out to be turkey on a baguette-ish bread, topped with mornay sauce, some more applewood bacon, and tomato slivers, all run under a broiler to ooey-gooey cheesy deliciousness.  It came with pommes frites (that's freedom fries to you and me).

Holy organic farming, was this good.  I mean, see aforementioned high hopes, but this breakfast and lunch killed.  My eggs were fluffy, still a tad bit wet without being runny, like I like them, and needed nothing but a little pepper.  The bacon, well, it was bacon, and was therefore amazing, but made even better by the fact that it was neither too crunchy nor too chewy.  The potatoes had some deeply sweet caramelized and burnt onions mixed in.  We tried to identify the "herb" in "herb potatoes" but failed, though we suspect something Greek-y.  The brioche had tons of butter.  Also delicious.

The hot brown was pretty awesome, too.  The bread had crunchy edges and fluffy insides, and the sauce added plenty of flavor without weighing or sogging down the sandwich.  If it looks enormous in that picture---it is.  We could have easily split that and the frites and been completely full.  So my companion took half of it home for dinner (maybe a little less than half.  Hey, I had to sample it!) and I am a mite jealous.

I will definitely go back to Au Fond.  It had its opening-day kinks, like some timing issues (my dish was out long before the sandwich).  Right now, though, the restaurant is sharing a kitchen with Grace, and that they're still figuring out the logistics is completely understandable.  I also thought both the potatoes and the frites could have been even better with a little less oil.  But the staff is friendly, the space is interesting (kind of an outdoor courtyard feel, like in a secluded garden outside of an old house in New Orleans or Savannah), and the food is great.  The chef is doing fantastic things to elevate local ingredients and to help sustain family farms.  I'm really glad to see this one added to the neighborhood!


  1. We must have been there at the same time yesterday! I had no idea about your blog, but I love it.

    I feel bad having a name for mine that is so similar, but there are only so many relevant ways to describe eating local! I'll make sure to link some of your posts to share, in case I ever have readers!


  2. Hi Thomas! Thanks for the comment and glad you like my blog. Don't feel badly about the similarity; how many other ways could you describe what we blog about?! I see you enjoyed Au Fond as much as I did---may there be many delicious meals there to come :)