There are only a couple more days before you can officially taste the dishes at Fauntleroy, the new modern French restaurant at 316 N. Milwaukee St.
Fauntleroy opens its doors on Thursday, July 26 at 5 p.m. after a weekend soft opening, at which we got our first taste of the restaurant’s modern French cuisine.
Expectations have been high for the restaurant, which sports a kitchen staff of both seasoned chefs and young upcoming talent, including Dandan and EsterEv chefs Daniel Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, chef de cuisine Blair Herridge, culinary director Matt Haase and pastry chef Jaceleen Monagle, also co-owner of Batches.
Even our first look at the decor – which nimbly greys the boundaries between modern casual and opulent fine dining – assisted in setting the bar for what guests could expect. Fortunately, it seems the restaurant is already living up to those expectations.
Fauntleroy’s menu is relatively tight, featuring a short list of appetizers, soups and salads and eight entrees, all of which have their roots deeply planted in classic French cuisine.
A selection of one-bite hors d’oeuvres form a particularly enjoyable way to begin a meal (or assuage the vague hunger that sometimes accompanies an after work drink). Options include escargot cromesquis (a creamy deep fried redux of the classic, $2), chicken liver eclairs ($3), gruyere gougeres ($2), radishes in butter ($2) and chorizo stuffed fried olives ($2). Bites can be ordered individually or in groupings.
Can’t decide? Order all the options, delivered to your table on a lovely tiered tray made by ceramics artist Kate Riley, for $9 per person.
Among the appetizers are twists on classics, like veal tartare made with egg, parsley and schmaltz (a nod to Daniel Jacobs’ Jewish heritage) for $12. There's also melon tartare with fennel, feta and olives ($9). Crab salad is made with avocado, creme fraiche and cucumber and served with rice crackers ($14), while sweet breads are served with crayfish, onion, maitake and sauce nantua ($14).
Guests will also find a pate du jour ($8) and foie gras torchon with preserves and brioche ($16). Caviar service is also available at two levels, California-sourced and Iberian (roughly $75/$110), both coming with traditional accompaniments.
Other options include the "beet tart," a deconstructed creation featuring both cooked and thinly sliced raw beets, quark, thyme and a parmesan sable ($9).
And then there’s the quenelle brandade, a tender dumpling made with salt cod and served with creamy buerre blanc. It’s a recipe Jacobs says took about eight iterations to perfect. And while you won’t find it fashioned in the more traditional egg-like shape, it’s classic Lyon at its essence.
French onion soup is rich and filled with umami ($6). It’s served in a traditional fashion with plenty of melted gruyere and baguette. And, although it’s not noted on the menu (and you’d never suspect, based on the rich caramelized onion broth enhanced with mushroom stock and miso), this unique version is actually vegetarian.
Meanwhile a traditional Lyonnaise salad is lightly dressed with shallot vinaigrette and topped with pork belly lardons, soft egg and sweet, crisp croutons ($10).
Other salads include Verte with bibb lettuce, celery, peaches, fines herbes and buttermilk dressing ($8) and Carrot with cumin vinaigrette, arugula and ricotta ($9).
Among the entrees are traditional steak frites ($24), scallops served with summer fricasee and pistou ($23), slow cooked short ribs with pepper ragout, potato puree and "eggroll" ($25) and whole grilled trout Veronique with grapes, pickled beech mushrooms and chives ($23).
Ridiculously tender poached salmon is served with rich bearnaise alongside pommes paillasson, shredded potatoes fried clarified butter, then pressed and cooked into a cake. Jacobs compares the ultra crisp potatoes to "the best possible version of McDonald's hashbrowns" (and he's not wrong).
There is also duck a l’orange for two featuring breast with orange sauce, foie gras and grilled heart salad along with leg confit parmentier ($60), vegetarian cauliflower steak is crisped and served with brown butter, capers and sweet sultanas ($16); and a half chicken – comprised of airline breast and hindquarter – is expertly prepared with tender, flavorful flesh and crisp skin and served with slightly spicy bitter greens, broccoli and a lemon vinaigrette ($20).
Simply named desserts include "Chocolate" featuring hot fudge, milk chocolate mousse and caramelized milk chocolate ($9) or "Peach Melba" with vanilla mousse, peach compote and raspberry granita ($9). There’s also "Strawberry" featuring housemade creamy strawberry sherbet, pickled strawberries and straws of strawberry flecked meringue ($9)
"Opera" is a unique take on the classic featuring hazelnut dacquoise, coffee mousse and dollops of lemon curd ($12). Comme c’est beau.
At the bar
A beverage menu features local draft brews from Pabst, Third Space, Enlightened, Karben4 and Ale Asylum, along with a selection of bottled brews. The wine list features a lovely selection of sparkling, white, rosé and reds, all from wineries in France.
On the cocktail side are seasonal creations orchestrated by Matt Hungerford including "The Coquette" featuring Wheatley vodka, St. Germain, lemon and combier pamplemousse ($12), the "1971" with Makers Mark, Campari, Cherry Heering, Lusteau Solera and grapefruit bitters ($12); "Keys on Strings" with Daron calvados, Pierre Ferrand, ginger, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters ($12) and "Que Virra Virra" with Brovo pink vermouth, Beefeater, strawberry, basil, lemon and cava ($12).
Beginning Thursday, Fauntleroy's hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made on Open Table.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.