Me Gusta Fonda 

click to enlarge restaurant_fonda02.jpg

434 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, 718-369-3144
Price range: $12-$22 Rating:L L L L L

Unless you want to join Floridians and dine at the ungodly hour of 6pm, plan to wait when heading to Fonda, Park Slope’s newest show-off. Chef Roberto Santibañez’s (of the Flatiron district’s Rosa Mexicana) diminutive Mexican spot has already attracted quite a crowd despite being only a month old. One reason for its long lines: there are just 37 seats inside (plus 22 outside when usable).

Enjoy a signature cocktail or two at the bar while waiting: we sampled the Rosalita, the house margarita made with blanco tequila, hibiscus, and lime juice—sweet and fruity—and the Torito, 100 percent agave tequila blended with horchata—strong, with a silky mouth feel from the rice milk. All served up with the requisite sarcastic Brooklyn bartender on the side.

Along with chicken, beef and pork dishes, the modest menu includes several fish options and, oddly, a pasta dish. Since I’ve recently vowed to avoid factory-farm meat, I inquired into their source of pig products as I was craving the adobo pork, but they were out of it. The server, sweet but inept, went to ask Chef Santibañez (who, in his bright white coat, was overseeing the expediting and running of food) about the skirt steak. The response: “It comes from a local distributor. It’s not grass-fed, but it is all-natural.” I opted for the shrimp enchiladas instead.

The fresh guacamole (ordered spicy) showed up un-spicy, but classic, and with perfect consistency. Delicious chips and soft corn tortillas were served, along with a fiery chipotle salsa. Mushroom empanadas (which showed up after our entrées) were throwaways. The shrimp enchiladas were flavorful, the deep pool of hazelnut mole nutty and somewhat sweet. The only detriment to the dish was the surprising bay scallops that were slimy and bland. The fish Veracruzana special had beautifully developed flavors, nuanced with plenty of acid—tomatoes, capers, Spanish olives and lime juice. Sides of cilantro-infused white rice and simple black beans were appreciated to mellow out the richness of the entrées. Dessert was a thick, fudgy brownie with cateja and whipped cream; we loved the giant chocolate morsels and pumpkin seeds (our waiter said they were hazelnuts).

Aside from the spotty service and a few letdowns, the food was tasty and the ambiance friendly. I’ll go back next time I’m craving a burger or pasta.


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