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It’s always fun walking along the fashionable Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood. I park in the public parking lot next to the West Hollywood library, and enjoy walking towards Lisa Vanderpump’s Sur, Craig’s restaurant and over to the vegan favorite, Gracias Madre. In March, the stylish restaurant Au Fudge opened on Melrose.
Last month, I met a friend there for lunch. Stepping inside the lively pink, white and black decor space, a hostess dressed in similar colors ushered me past the light and bright outdoor dining patio. The centerpiece of this room is two white decorative trees providing columns to frame a wall with a large, shiny mirror.
I was led to another dining room in the middle of the restaurant with a handsome marble bar top with stools, natural woods, and chic furniture. Behind the bar are shelves displaying a variety of spirits and a wine list offering sparkling and rosé wines, whites from France, California and Italy and reds from Washington State, Argentina, California and Italy. They serve a handful of craft beers and cocktails named Mo Momma, Jessica Rabbit’s Rabbit and The Little Prince.
Looking around the restaurant, I noticed it was filled with young mothers and children. Au Fudge was designed to be a community social gathering space for families to enrich their lives with food, classes, and even au pair services at a nominal fee.
Celebrity Jessica Biel is part owner. Other partners include Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop founder Jonathan Rollo and his partner Joey Gonzalez of Barry’s Bootcamp, along with fashion stylist and interior designer Estee Stanley and children’s book author Kimberly Muller. Just after opening the cafe, Muller debuted her newest book – “The Story of Au Fudge,” with illustrations by Kristen Doyle and Melanie Vugich.
At Au Fudge, parents can feed their children, and then finish a conversation, sip a glass of wine and slowly enjoy dishes from the Cal-French influenced menu, while their children play and create art with others. Kids like finding the secret door bookcase with steps leading up to a treehouse for imaginative play. The creative room is filled with high quality Stokke’s baby diaper bags, car seats, strollers and high chairs for their little ones. Pop-up shops reserve this room to showcase their newest line of products.
Looking over the pink and white menu, I noticed quite a few vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items. We started with a plate of grilled crostini, naan and crudités that came with a trio of dips that included hummus, tapenade and muhammara (made with red pepper and walnuts). Next, we ordered the heirloom tomato and burrata plate with an eggplant caponata, hazelnuts and balsamic reduction.
Two mothers and their children at a nearby table were nibbling on corn lollipops dusted lightly with parmesan cheese, and dipping cheesy pretzel bites into yellow mustard. On the children’s menu, items include chicken tenders with whole grain mustard, ketchup or ranch dressing; mini all natural burgers; butter pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese; and pepperoni pizza.
Comfort plates include a grilled cheese sandwich cut into sticks to easily dip into warm tomato soup, panko crusted mac and cheese, a BLT and fried egg sandwich on a pretzel bun.
Heartier entrée items include a grilled steak with frites, a variety of burgers, seared fresh fish, grilled Mary’s chicken, and spaghetti with turkey meatballs.
The signature dessert is a fudge flight offering pieces of their milk chocolate, peanut butter and peppermint fudge. They also serve cobblers, s’mores dip, churros, tarts, and build your own ice cream sundaes.
Our server shared with us that throughout the month, they offer classes and special events that include a toddler French music class, parent and me cooking class, story time and donut decorating.
Along the back wall in neon lights are The House Rules – The first letter of each rule is highlighted perpendicularly to spell out Au Fudge – Always Believe, Unicorns are Real, Fudging Behave, U Must Take Turns, Don’t Whine, Give Hugs and Eat. Drink. Play.
A marketplace boutique filled with unique toys, colorful candy and lollipops, scarves, reusable bento boxes, baby items and a bakery case filled with an array of cookies, baked goods, rice crispy treats, gorgeous cakes, and of course trays of fudge.
The restaurant and marketplace are open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It opens one hour earlier on the weekends for classes and brunch. $$ 9010 Melrose Ave. (424)204-9228.
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