fugaise does a great many things very very well. but like some other places i've been to recently that haven't been opened for years, this place will only improve when they get into their groove.
starters. two people went with the butternut squash soup with shaved pecorino and pumpkinseed oil was good. ditto risotto with caramelized parsnip, pancetta, truffled-parsnip froth (kind of hard to make bad things with truffles), paired with a vionta albarino wine. mixed greens with grapes, curried pinenuts, stilton cheese were light and refreshing. but the scallops, oh, the scallops. with a creamy leek custard, brown butter and capers... simply great. they put in mind the ocean (and that's a lot to be said on a winter minnesota night when it's about 0 degrees out) and were a knockout dish and went favorably with a dry sparkling wine, domaine des baumard. probably the best thing all evening.
entrees were pork three preparations served with apple bread pudding and rosemary jus (reportedly very good and tender), a risotto based on the one above but vegetarian with capers, olives, mushrooms, onions, and whatever other vegetable was on hand in the kitchen. haphazard as that sounds, it came together even better than the OG risotto. who knew. and it is nice that if there's no vegetarian items on the menu, they'll work with patrons to create something.
three of us went with the duck (quack) breast with braised endive, duck ravioli, foie gras emulsion. not sure if it was supposed to be lukewarm, but it was. it's nice not to get a searingly hot plate of food, but it was a bit on the side of cold for me. and i will say for me the plate sounded better than it was. not that it was bad, the duck breast was tender and all, but needed another flavor note (some kind of berried sauce or something?). the ravioli was... ok. i pictured something more delicate, i guess. maybe i am just burnt out on entrees or something. the wine we shared, domaine de la tourade- gigondas (fun to say, that... gigondas... gigondas... anyway...) was good with all the entrees.
it is entirely weird if i think the best dessert on the table is not the cheese plate (three cheese, a whipped creamy one in the style of a brie, a stilton, and a shaved one that i think may have been pecorino (last seen atop the soup with some apple matchsticks, lovely curried pine nuts, bread arrived a bit late in the game), but the asian pear flambe with star anise biscotti, and caramel-pecan ice cream kicked the ass of the cheese plate, not to mention the pumpkin crème caramel crispy with all that and a side of pumpkin chips. i had a sweeter dessert wine, montbazillac from chateau hauts de caillevel, others went with a less girly choice, the alois kracher beerenauslese (which sounds kind of painful).
from all the rumors of fugaise being hard to find, i found it easily (best directions: go to surdyks, look across the street to the east). once you get there, you're greeted in a hallway, you can leave your coat if you wish (it was kind of cold, i didn't), and go into the tiny tiny bar area into the dining room. it's not built for large parties, they had maybe on 6 top, the rest were 2 or 4. it's a good place for more intimate dining. it's nice and quiet, and the room won't distract you like it does in some places. tasteful.
but woe is the person who has to freshen up. you leave your little cocoon of warmth and tastiness and head out into the freezing hallway of an office building into an impersonal restroom. that harshed my mellow, man. i am not fond of doing such things at otherwise upscale places (and it's not just here).
service was mostly very above average and the few slips were made up for... water and pop glasses never got to the bottom, and once they realized we collectively are prepared to eat several tons of bread at dinner (that's what we tend to do... we're bread people. but only if it's good. this one was... a nice medium crusty rye loaf with a hint of sourdough from rustica bakery) that's what they brought. and lots of butter. all good.
© the bent sun as risen