If the little girl in you dreams of a place where a stuffed animal tea party is as welcome as a Jimmy Choo-clad crew, your new mecca is Au Fudge. The playful restaurant concept from Jessica Biel and her multi-hyphenate partners (stylist-designer Estee Stanley, and author-producer Kimberly Muller among them) opens today, March 4, in West Hollywood’s Design District. (Its Melrose Ave. neighbors include other uber-cool eateries Craig’s and Gracias Madre.)
Inside Au Fudge you’ll find a whimsical wonderland—with a killer cocktail program and an organic menu (this is L.A., after all) that appeals to kids and adults alike. But its surprises go far beyond homemade almond milk and beet-dyed pastries. A corresponding children’s book, The Story of Au Fudge, also releases today and its illustrations come to life in the restaurant. A spiral staircase leads up to a cozy “tree house” nook outfitted with St. Frank pillows and hand-drawn portraits of the founders’ families (yes, there’s a young Justin Timberlake and baby Silas!); a bookcase opens up to reveal a hidden playroom with cotton clouds floating below the skylights; and a taxidermy toy unicorn head hovers above the dining room’s reclaimed wood tables.
For moms and dads with little ones in tow, professional au pairs are on-site until 8 p.m. so parents can enjoy a worry-free glass of bubbly with friends while kids get crafty in the “creative space.” For those looking for a night out sans babies, the bar and restaurant offer nosh and drinks until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Au Fudge’s fanciful indoor-outdoor design, mixing vintage and sustainable décor (earning it the Environmental Media Association’s first Green Seal for a restaurant) is more fairly-tale chic than crayon box. “I just wanted it to feel like you were coming over to my house. We all really wanted it to feel inviting and not like you’re going to a restaurant,” Stanley said of the dreamy space. And its menu of elevated classics (truffle grilled cheese, kale Caesar salad, churro ice cream sliders) is equally crave-worthy, so don’t write it off as for-families-only—this is the area’s new “meet me for drinks/brunch/birthday” spot.
For Biel, perfecting Au Fudge’s signature dishes was as much of a priority as nailing the overall concept. “We’ve probably done about 20 different tastings because you have to try everything. Like you have to try the French fry again, you have to try the burger, again,” she laughed during a restaurant preview on Wednesday. “Even that grilled cheese we’re still tweaking. It’s constantly evolving.” While Biel hopes some of her faves, like a poached egg sandwich, become brunch staples, she noted that the team also solicits input from their children for the all-inclusive menu. “We do [have the kids weigh in]. Estee’s kids, Kimberly’s kids, they all come in here and are like, ‘I won’t eat that’ and we’re like, ‘Ok. Next!’ Kids are so brutal but we appreciate that.”
After a dinner with a few Champagne cocktails (in artfully mismatched vintage and crystal glasses) and a decadent mixed berry mess dessert (in a playful pink pig bowl), hit the restaurant’s marketplace for sweets and treats to-go, including non-toxic toys, giant lollipops, and those all-important cookies. After all, #GetFudgedUp is Au Fudge’s motto.
9010 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood, CA 90069; 424-288-4268; aufudge.com