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Pardon me, but I simply must gush about a recent trip I made with the Heiress up to visit her daughter where we enjoyed a fine meal at Chez Fonfon in Five Points in Birmingham. I sincerely hope I will not loose my posting privileges by straying outside of our normal gastronomic boundaries, but I was so greatly impressed with the French country style decor and menu that I can highly recommend the establishment if you MUST find yourself outside of the Gump for dinner.
In my case, as is usual in my circumstances, it was a MUST that I accepted the "invitation" from the Heiress a/k/a "She Who Must Be Obeyed" to travel to Birmingham to take her grown daughter to dinner to celebrate her daughter's birthday. Having no better prospects (other than to play Whist with Whiggin Blanquet at the Beauvoir Club) and knowing that a refusal would result in long-lasting financial repercussions, I outwardly said "Of Course My Dear" while inwardly fearing an evening of chitter-chatter over a bland meal in a crowded restaurant. The thought of also making conversation during the drive up and back was doubly daunting.
As we were driven up to Birmingham seated in the rear section of her new Equus, I inquired as to the selection for the evening. The heiress stated that her daughter a/k/a the Princess, had chosen Chez Fonfon, which, she added, is a sister establishment to Highlands Bar & Grill and La Bottega. Of course, having heard of Highlands, my interest was milked until she tersely added: "Of course you know they do not take reservations."
"You don't say," I added calmly while internally saying "Oh shit." You see, being a man of former means who could at one time command the best table at the finest restaurants in Dublin or New York with a snap of my finger, I grow rather impatient in the cues comprised of common folk who have the nerve of thinking you wish to converse with them while waiting for a table. I also knew that, if the restaurant was as fine as The Princess reported, my evening in Birmingham would be extended to almost intolerable lengths such that I would miss my cherished bedtime back in the Gump.
However, after my experience at Chez Fonfon, I can unequivocally state it was all worth it.
The valet parking, which is a must, was seamless. We arrived around 6 p.m. and found the place just filling up. The decor reminded me of one of my all-time favorites in New Orleans (Galatoires of course) and I was delighted to see three open spots at the bar where we could imbibe as we waited. I noted they had my hometown whiskey (Jameson) but I opted for a Vodka martini with a twist of lemon as the ladies took their martinis dirty with olives. It is a wonder to enjoy a properly made martini with ice crushed by hand by a bartender in a bow tie, white shirt, black vest and apron with no visible tattoos.
Our table was ready in about 20 minutes. After our initial drink orders were taken, a fresh french bread basket with real butter was presented as we pondered the specials. I chose the steak frites prepared medium rare (only heathens or trailer park trash order fine meat overcooked) which came with a salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. Very nice with a bottle of French white burgundy wine and especially fine when the Heiress was picking up the tab.
Surprisingly, although I expected to see a hefty tab as I snuck a glance at the bill as the Heiress pulled out her fashionable purse to retrieve her titanium credit card, I was stunned that the price for the meal for three with wine was less than $60 per person.
Of course, I have no recollection of anything discussed over the dinner table between the women. They mentioned something about the chef being trained somewhere trendy and the source of the beef being eco-something but, as is my normal custom, I paid little attention while managing to look attentive. I know my place as an appendage on the Heiresses arm. Sort of like a parrot on the shoulder of a pirate. (Thank goodness the Heiress cannot use a computer and read this post eh?)
The trip back to Montgomery was more pleasant than usual as the Heiress napped. Having some time to myself to actually think, during the drive I vowed to share my experience with you our loyal readers. Again, I say, if you have to be in that city to the north full of bad drivers on impossible roads, do take the time to try Chez Fonfon for lunch or dinner. You will not be disappointed.
Postscript Added August 17, 2011: Well, apparently someone (and I suspect my arch nemesis Whiggin Blanquet is the culprit) thought it would be humorous to print out this blog post and mail it to the Heiress in an unmarked envelope. The result has been that I have been advised by the Heiress that our relationship (such as it was) is now "El Finito." Alas, I will miss her.... (Well, I'd better not say what). In any event I am now a free Irish 60ish gentleman looking for companionship, erudite conversation, fine wine and food. If you are interested and not from Northern Ireland and not English, send a picture of your liquor cabinet or wine cellar to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to get back to you. Cheers!