Craig LaBan Re-Reviews Fond


Craig LaBan decides to revisit Lee Styer’s Fond since it has moved and added a liquor license. What he finds is that the marginally bigger restaurant still delivers in big ways.

We had only one real clunker course: a thin and one-dimensional foie gras soup. The special just lacked spark – especially beside his stunning appetizer of crisply seared foie, warm and creamy over cool carrots in gingery caramel with cardamom-spiced cream cheese sauce.

That indulgence was in perfect contrast to the elegance of tuna crudo tiled over piquillo peppers with a white miso aioli, or the beautifully browned swordfish over ivory vichyssoise sauce with tart bursts of grapefruit, bitter watercress, and the salty pop of paddlefish roe. Big, gorgeous sea scallops channeled a Spanish mood over saffron paella rice with smoky chorizo. And the chicken, roasted on the carcass before being deboned and finished with duck-fat-braised Savoy cabbage, was excellent.

Three Bells – Excellent

Fond [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Fond [Official Site]

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  • anonymous

    Every time I visit Fond, I want to love it. But, it’s so mediocre at best.

  • Alimentarian

    I love this restaurant, but I’ve never understood the name. What are they “fond” of?

    • Jim Bucksbury

      Not much of an alimentarian, are you? Hint: the word Fond has another meaning than the one you are thinking of.

      • Tomaaas

        Mr. Bucksbury being an “Alimentarian” only loosely refers to having an affinity for nourishment and sustenance relating to food. It certainly does not suggest you have a clue about French definitions of words….which this person clearly does not. However your point is correct in that all this clueless people who come on Foobooz and Eater with food handles like “Alimentarian” suggesting they know what they are talking about continuously embarrass themselves. Quite comical I must say.

      • Alimentarian

        I knew someone would bite. Thanks.

        p.s. I’ve never run across fond at an alimentari.

    • Art from Foobooz

      It’s a cooking term. Fond refers to the browned bits a of meat and vegetables that are stuck to the bottom of a pan after roasting.

  • Scoop

    This is a quibble, but why does Craig always make these chefs jump through hoops in the review?

    “And though he did a fine job of improvising a veggie meal for one of my guests, a composed entrée would been more impressive than a smorgasbord of sides – though the roast acorn squash and onion spaetzle were flat-out delicious.”

    He brings a vegetarian, and then judges an improvised entree? There is a friggin menu – order off it. This isn’t Iron Chef

    • xmixiex

      you say “he brings a vegetarian” like they’re another species. vegetarians like to eat well, too and get sick of “vegetable plates” and pasta.

      • Scoop

        Well, that’s a menu issue. Fond should have a vegeterian entree. Or, you should check the menu of a place before going if you have dietary restrictions and not expect them to be a diner.

        • xmixiex

          Fair point, as someone who does not eat meat (except for/but seafood) I always check menus before I go somewhere. Sometimes, though, you need to attend a dinner with a group with no say in the restaurant, for a birthday or something… in which case a place like Fond should be able accommodate reasonably. (I’m not implying that they didn’t- LeBan did. ;)

      • suburbanite

        Agreed.. Any chef worth his coat should be able to compose a dish that is made up of items that work just as harmoniously as their meat-laden brethren.

  • PhillyFoodDude

    Actually FOND was decided during a brainstorming session when Fond was suggested for its relevance to Foundation, signifying the basis of their (Lee/Jessie/Tory) friendship on which the restaurant would be built; the deeply-embedded French nature of their cuisine and practices; and the core groundwork that would provide footing for future projects. From my piece here:

    • Stargell Willie

      I like sticky brown bits way better