Cafe Fundamental Offers Prix Fixe Weekday Menu, Bakery to Come

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One of the best chicken dishes Ive had in a long time
  • One of the best chicken dishes I've had in a long time

It was a late night at the office Tuesday, so my girlfriend Wendy and I decided to skip cooking and head to Cafe Fundamental for Bonne Nuit Tuesdays, in particular because we were craving some of the fabulous boeuf bourguignon we had there several Tuesdays ago. At first we were disappointed to learn chef Jamie Watson had dropped the hearty dish from the menu for the warm season — that is, until we saw Fundamental's new weekday three-course $27 prix fixe menu. (The Bonne Nuit Tuesdays menu, featuring entrées in the $12-$17 range, is still available ... on Tuesdays, natch.)

The prix fixe menu is subject to change. Last night's edition featured a choice of two starter salads, three entrées and two desserts. We tried one of each salad — mixed greens and frisée aux lardons. The greens were good, but the frisée was wonderful, with a sous vide poached egg and divine lardons of house-cured bacon.

For her entrée, Wendy had poisson en papillote, aka fish in parchment paper. This rendition featured wild-caught Atlantic cod with tomato fondue, white wine and mushroom duxelle. As our server cut open the parchment, a lovely aromatic cloud puffed out. The fish was light and flaky, the accompanying vegetables simple but tasty.

frisee aux lardons
  • frisée aux lardons

The cod was quite good, but the poulet viennoise was sensational, the best chicken entrée I've had in recent memory. The dish consisted of a breaded paillard of Ashley Farms chicken with lemon, capers and an absolutely delightful veal stock/red wine reduction. The accompanying pommes galette was also terrific — in my mind, one of the best potato latkes I've had, crispy outside, tender inside.

Both desserts were exceptional — a honey crème brûlée, the creamiest I've ever had, and a flourless chocolate cake with macerated berries and a decadent semifreddo (semi-frozen sweet cream).

My only quibble: My chicken was so good that I longed for a larger portion — but taken in the context of the three-course meal, it was well-portioned, and in the end I was quite full. Had there been more chicken, I probably wouldn't have made it through dessert. And for $27 including salad and dessert, it was very reasonably priced.

Poisson en papillote
  • Poisson en papillote

In other news, Watson tells us that he's opening a bakery on the corner just across Greenwood Avenue from the restaurant. That's good news, because Cafe Fundamental is no longer open weekday mornings, and his pastries are some of the best in town. He's shooting for a July opening. After the bakery is up and running, he hopes to serve lunch there too. Name to come. Stay tuned.

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