When we interviewed Nicole Votano for our Chef’s Corner back in March, she described the soon-to-open Fooq’s menu as “seasonal, comforting, and memorable.” Well, now that Fooq’s has opened (to rave reviews, btw), I’m here to tell you that she could not have been more spot on. However, it’s not just Fooq’s’ menu that shines, the whole dining experience can be summed up with those simple, yet important adjectives. In fact, I’m going to use them as a guide for this review.
Seasonal: I mean, who includes two items on their set menu (Chef’s Daily Ceviche or Crudo and Trio of Jars) that basically say to diners, “order this and trust our chef, you won’t be disappointed.” That’s pretty ballsy considering most people like to know exactly what they are ordering up front.
Taking seasonality seriously also allows chefs to play and explore their creativity based on what ingredients are available at any given time. That is evident in Chef Nicole’s welcome tartines (P.S. What a cool way to start a meal? A fabulous first bite! Take that, bread basket!) and daily specials. I won’t go into details here because odds are you won’t be able to get these dishes anymore. Not great for writing blog reviews, but very great for my taste buds.
Comforting: Yes, the food at Fooq’s is straight-up comfort food (or as Chef Nicole likes to call it, “feel good food), but what makes this restaurant truly comforting is the service. Led by restaurateur David Foulquier, who is so unassuming as an owner (he gets down hosting, waiting, and bussing) that I actually confused him for a regular waiter, the staff at Fooq’s is beyond welcoming. Add to that the numerous table visits from Chef Nicole, and I almost forgot that we were essentially dining in the ‘hood – and I was sitting OUTSIDE!
But, I digress…on to the food. These two dishes – one an appetizer, one a dessert – essentially served as two big arms embracing me in a yummy hug. Both had different aspects that, to me, scream comfort food: equal parts crunchy and gooey, warm and cold, and an amalgam of sweet and savory components. Sounds comforting enough, right?
On the appetizer side, the Pommes de Terre Raclette brought together finger potatoes, oven roasted baby heirloom tomatoes, caramelized sweet onions, melted Raclette cheese. Crunchy and gooey? Check. Warm and cold? Check. Sweet and Savory? Check.
On the dessert side, the Croissant Bread Pudding combines 64% chocolate, Earl Grey ice cream, and citrus caramel. Do I need to go through the checklist again?
Memorable: When it comes to something being memorable, that distinction is usually given when the perfect storm of comfort, seasonality, and some emotional trigger come together. Honestly, my entire Fooq’s meal was overwhelmingly positive and won’t be soon forgotten. That said, the following two dishes left more than a lasting mark.
It may seem crazy to you (it even seems crazy to me as I type this), but the most memorable things I ate during my dinner at Fooq’s was spaghetti and meatballs. OK, so they’re not served together. And so maybe the pasta dish isn’t actually spaghetti. But you get the idea…
The Votano Meatballs, a great appetizer option, are perfect to share. The meatballs themselves are a succulent combo of ground brisket and berkshire pork and come smothered in San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano and basil, and served with a side of garlic toast. Is your mouth watering yet?
So, I am so not usually an order-pasta-at-a-restaurant guy, but this Bucatini Amatriciana is legit. First of all, the pasta is homemade and it shows; you can almost see the bite in the photo. Toss that up in a sauce of smoked pancetta, sweet onions, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic chips, Sicilian chile flakes, and Pecorino Romano and you’re in pasta heaven.
Mitch’s recommendation: In case you couldn’t tell, Fooq’s made me feel good. It will make you feel good too. Go there now, thank me later.
Standout dishes: Votano’s Meatballs and Bucatini Amatriciana. Trust.