When Jacob Eberle first traveled to France, he had no idea that he’d eventually become a classically trained chef. A comparative-religion major with a concentration in French, Eberle had never been to Europe. So when the opportunity to study the language in its native land presented itself, he jumped at the chance. He fell in love with the food, the culture, the way of life, and that adoration is evident at his classic French bistro, Le Fond (105 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-389-6859) in Greenpoint.
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, Eberle completed his internship in the Loire Valley. His most recent post was chef de cuisine at Geoffrey Zakarian’s The Lambs Club.
Open for two weeks now, Le Fond has been more than two years in the works — Eberle left his last post in 2012. To pay the bills, he taught cooking courses and worked as a freelance chef for catering gigs while hosting home supper clubs. He’s thrilled to finally be up and running.
With its oak tables, stainless-steel chairs, and warm blue walls, Le Fond offers casual French fare in a comfortable atmosphere. His concise menu features starters, main courses, sides, and desserts.
Daube de boeuf ($23) is typical of Eberle’s style and philosophy. A rustic peasant dish, inexpensive beef is cut from the ribs, then braised for hours. Once all the connective tissues and gelatin have rendered the meat supple, the braise is reduced as the base for the sauce.
“Le Fond is about home cooking,” says Eberle. “We roast the ingredients and use a wooden spoon to scratch up all the bits for the sauce. Nothing goes in the garbage.”
An excellent rabbit terrine ($14) is topped with Golden Delicious mustard. A mix of about 70 percent rabbit, 25 percent pork fatback, 5 percent bacon, and hazelnuts, it’s smooth and creamy. A vibrant herb salad comes on the side.
A round of cured arctic char ($12) is flavored with fennel seed, chile flake, and white pepper, then crowned with shaved brussels sprouts. Dotted on the side, a spicy mayo brightens the bold flavors and texture of the diced fish.
Cured products and charcuterie are featured regularly. For Eberle, using absolutely every part of an animal is part of the fundamentals of French cooking.
“Historically, people used those techniques to preserve food, but there are other benefits to it,” says Eberle. “It seasons the meat all the way through, and changes the texture.”
House-smoked haddock is even incorporated into the spaghetti ($13/$17). It’s flavored with leeks and a chiffonade of fresh parsley.
Eberle doesn’t want to associate the restaurant with one particular region; the seasonally changing menu will most likely rotate around the country. When spring and summer come around, Eberle says, he’ll probably move more toward the south of the country. Currently, there’s more of a northern focus, with hearty dishes incorporating butter.
That doesn’t mean it’s all meat and potatoes. Skate ($18), similar to a stingray, is lightly browned and served over al dente fennel hearts with a spooned carrot browned butter puree around the plate. It’s light, but full of flavor.
A reasonably priced beverage program offers a selection of beer and wine, with a focus on France. The house wines, a red Côtes de Bordeaux and white dry Alsatian riesling, are $9 a glass. Bottles range from $35 to $58. Working within the current price-points, Eberle will try to double the offerings this week.
From 5 to 7 p.m. daily, Le Fond offers a happy hour with half off draft beer and house wines as well as snacks. Spicy peanuts are $1 and cheese beignets (filled with mornay and topped with fresh Parmesan) are three for $1.
“I still need to work on some things, like the façade of the building,” says Eberle of his progress. “I want to add brunch soon, and eventually lunch. I was just ready to start.”
Le Fond is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.