Fondue Fred

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We visited Fondue Fred in March 1999. The restaurant is located in The Village, a mini-mall on Telegraph Avenue, in Berkeley, where there are also a couple of other restaurants (the Korean BBQ place smelled very good). They have inside or outside seating, there is one functioning cealing heater in the outside part, but we still had to keep our jackets on to stay warm. We arrived around 8 PM - we had called to see if we needed reservations, but they said that at that time, and for two people, they weren't necessary. Still, once we got there they said we had to wait if we wanted a table inside, so we chose to eat outside.

They have a couple of "party menus" that include sampling from as many as 6 fondues, and unlimited salad, chesecake, house wine for parties of 6 persons or more. Nothing of the sort for only two people, but you can order one-person fondues and share.

We decided on a chedar fondue and a chautebriand fondue - the first one was about $9, and the other $12 if I well remember. All fondues come with salad, which Mike (who ate his) said was OK.

The cheese fondue came with pieces of bread (not toasted), though I saw that the "party" tables were also getting mixed vegetables to dip in. It was very good, though not extraordinary (but I'm not sure what an extraordinary fondue would be like - it was no worse than the stuff I've had in Switzerland, but not necessarily better than the stuff I make at home).

The meat fondue, on the other hand, was a big disappointment. First of all, there wasn't much meat. It came with mushrooms and a bit of brocoli, and it was mostly mushrooms. The sauce was rather insipid as well, and I would certainly not order it again.

We had been planning on staying for chocolate fondue (also $9 or $10 for two), but we glanced at the other tables and saw that the fruits that they provided to eat with it did not seem to include bananas (nor strawberries). As we love bananas with chocolate fondue, and we were by then rather disapointed, we decided to skip it and make our own chocolate fondue at home for dessert. The bill for both fondues and a large coke (VERY LARGE coke) was $25.

For those who love chocolate fondue, it's really easy to make at home. What I do is mix milk chocolate chips with whipping cream (not whipped) and add a bit of sweetened condensed milk, and some kirsh. You just melt the chocolate in a fondue (or other pot), add the rest of the stuff according to your taste and mix. But you can also improvise with whatever ingredients you have at home. Use semi-sweet or unsweetened chocolate and simply add more condensed milk. Use sugar or honey instead. Use milk instead of cream. Add some vanilla. Put some sherry or another liquor instead of kirsh.

Fondue Fred
2556 Telegraph Ave
Berkeley, CA
(510) 549-0850