Review: You’ll Never Leave Hungry
black eyed pea fritters w. tomato/bacon broth
It is very hard not to like Au Fond Farmtable. Unlike Chef Ben Vaughn’s Restaurant Grace, which came and went like last year, it’s down-to-earth breakfast neighbor seems to be making a name for itself in Memphis. The morning farmhouse decor is wonderfully complete and fashionable. And the food is good. When it’s not, the affordable prices quell any unhappiness.
pimento cheese sandwich
I’ve been to Au Fond twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. The pimento cheese sandwich, which seems to have captured the hearts of many Memphians, is an excellent rendition of a dish usually too salty and too sharp. The cheese is creamy and warm, and the grilled bread goes along well. The fries, while tasty, could be less greasy.
philly cheese steak
What is this? The philly cheese steak was one that must have come from a different kitchen. Bland, clumsy and looking like a cook decided to reheat yesterday’s yesterday leftovers, this poor buggar paled in comparison to the pimento.
The restaurant had been serving dinner for only three nights when I visited. On a brisk Friday, the crowd was sparse and yet service was painfully slow. They’re new at it so I guess that’s okay.
As for the food, dishes were tasty and filling, the portions extremely agreeable. Pork rillettes did slain pigs across America justice, a straightforward marriage between fat, pig and more pig. A soup of black eyed pea chili is perhaps better as an idea than a dish. It’s temperamental and fiery but flavor lacks, leaving behind a trail of spice and awkwardly tough black eyed peas.
The best appetizer and dish of the night were the black eyed pea fritters. You may not like black eyed peas, but you’ll like these. You HAVE to. Chef Vaughn manages to strip the peas — lightly battered and fried — of their gritty, waxy nature, replacing them with a creamier, smoother texture. The tomato and bacon broth lands the final punch for a bite that’s classy, upscale, southern and familiar all at once (picture at top).
Entrees were unimpressive, but not to say they were bad. The kitchen serves a big and burly farm burger and the steak frites is giant, but both come with issues. The patty is too dense to be cooked and retain any moisture. The steak is served smothered in a sauce of worcestershire and red wine cream, but even that’s not enough to hide how poor of a cut of meat this is. It’s riddled with gristle and sleeping in puddles of oil. But hey, it’s $12 and tasty. The farm omelette is also large enough to satisfy any hunger pains but overpowered by red bell peppers.
blueberry cobbler ($5)
Across the board, Au Fond’s desserts are well done. The chocolate cake is a dense, moist chocolate affair, the apple pie simply delicious and the blueberry cobbler a refreshing change from the standard cobbler. Blueberries swim in a watery sauce made of…blueberries.
I give Au Fond 3.5 stars with a strong desire to one day be able to give 4. There is good stuff coming out of this kitchen, but there’s also inconsistency lurking behind the salt shakers.
Au Fond Farmtable
938 South Cooper Street
Memphis, TN 38104