Neo-Bistro ‘Le Fond’ Lends French Charm (and Great Food) to Greenpoint
Regular visitors to Greenpoint Library (and indeed anyone who frequently crosses the intersection of Norman and Leonard) may have noticed that changes have been afoot around that area recently. Antek, a Polish restaurant noted for its fine pierogi, has closed down and in its place has arisen a charming new French bistro, Le Fond.
The creation of Le Fond (105 Norman Ave) involves a fruitful collaboration of the old and new. It came about when Antek owner Stanislawa (Stasha) Prenkiewicz advertised on Craigslist for somebody with a strong vision and business plan to come onboard and relaunch her restaurant. The ad was answered by local chef Jake Eberle, who’d been looking for the right opportunity to open his first business. Stasha was excited by Jake’s proposal and a new partnership was born. She handed him creative control of the space whilst remaining involved as a silent partner.
Originally from Maine, Jake moved to NYC eight years ago and has worked in prestigious kitchens such as Michelin-starred Eighty-One and The Lambs Club, where he worked alongside ‘Iron Chef’ Geoffery Zakarian.
Having previously trained at Le Cordon Bleu and undertaken his internship at La Roche Le Roy in France, French cuisine was an obvious choice for Jake. His aim was to open a ‘neo-bistro’, a movement which he describes as being “about resourceful chefs who’re doing as much as possible on their own and attracting a dining audience who’re receptive to whatever’s happening in the kitchen”.
Plans for the new restaurant have been quietly hatching for a couple of years, but the space itself was physically transformed in just two months and had its official opening last Thursday. The previously lime green and orange interior is now a beautiful shade of pale blue, with a crisply tiled raised bar area, tables made by Jake’s father and artworks created by a childhood friend. Situated on a corner, the inviting space gets sunlight from two sides which will make brunch a particular joy when it’s introduced in coming weeks.
The menu features good-looking starters such as marinated mussels with white beans, tomato confit and fennel, and rabbit terrine with apple mustard, hazelnuts and toast. Mains include a daube de bouef with red wine glazed vegetables, and hake with sherry caper vinaigrette and black lentils. There’s also a griddled burger with dill relish and French fries if you’re in line for something a little more American.
When I visited at the weekend I tried the skate with carrot browned butter puree, fennel and lemon parsley sauce. It was superb, with the anise flavor of the fennel playing deliciously against the sweet carrot and the slightly salty, perfectly cooked skate wings. I also had a beautifully moist almond cake with poached pears and a salted caramel sauce.
“The sauce is an important component of almost all my dishes,” explains Jake. “It’s the flavor, the foundation, and where the name Le Fond comes from.” The browned bits that form at the bottom of the roasting pan, where deep, complex flavor is generated, is also referred to as the ‘fond’, and is scraped up with a chef’s wooden spoon. The spoon depicted in the restaurant’s logo is an actual spoon owned by Jake, worn down on the one edge by years of scraping up the fond.
Le Fond’s booze list is set to expand with time, but there is currently a good, concise wine list, bottled beers, and two brews on tap (one being an IPA from Greenpoint Beer and Ale Co.). There is coffee from Pudge Knuckles, which comes served in beautiful hand-thrown coffee cups by local potter Jordan Colon of Greenpoint’s Eat, who has also provided other ceramics such as vases and side plates.
There are plans to soon start serving morning coffee and pastries, as well as lunch and brunch during the day. But for the meantime Le Fond’s dinner menu has plenty to explore and, given the amount of neighborhood interest it’s sparked already, my advice is to get in there quick!
Le Fond is currently open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm.
Reservations can be made by calling (718) 389-6859.
For the first week of service, Le Fond will be accepting cash only.