Drew Port was 18 when he tried fondue for the first time in France and was hooked. Since then it had been a running joke with family and friends that one day he’d open his own fondu place and call it Fondru’s.
The building and location caught Drew’s eye when it came up for lease in February 2017. Close to his other establishment; Room for a Pony, a gorgeous Victorian corner building with masses of potential. With the perfect space found he managed to convince best mate Stuart Churton to take the plunge with him.
They commissioned Clare Ferri of Bury Kirkland and Ferri to design the fit-out and took conceptual inspiration from Milk and Cow in Melbourne, bringing to life Fondru’s Fromagerie & Wine Bar. With its striking black awning and stylish fit out it has a modern yet Parisian style café feel.
The Two Girls called in on their second day of opening. Escaping inside we felt shielded from the peak hour hustle and bustle on the street outside, inside we were welcomed by friendly staff and instantly felt relaxed and ready to unwind!
The menu surprised us with the many options on offer, there is of course fondue and they have five selections ranging from $18 to $20 each. You can add extras like olive tapenade, garlic chips and crispy bacon bits that range from $2 to $3 each.
Cheese flights are a selection of wine, beer or whisky paired with a matching cheese ‘creating an amazing experience for the palette’. These range from $22 to $28.
The cheese boards on offer have 50g of three different cheeses and come with assorted biscuits and quince paste. They range from $22.50 to $24.50 and they are regional based, you can choose from French, Italian, Spanish or Tasmanian. The menu also gives a couple of options of recommended wines for each board and they have a menu of accompaniments that you can add ranging from $2 for cornichons up to $11.50 for an anchovie tin.
If you want to leave the selection to the team, you can go with the cheesemongers choice, they will ask you about what you like and then design the board around that. You just need to choose how many cheeses you want; 3 cheeses for $21, 4 for $27.50 or 5 for $34.
Charcuterie boards (pronounced shar-koo-thu-ree) provides a non-cheese option, a selection of meats with bread, grissini and cornichons. You can select 2 meats for $19.50, 3 for $24.50 and 4 for $29.50 you choose from Wagyu pastrami, squid ink salami, Nduja salami, bresaola or chirizo.
Their ‘other stuff’ menu looks really interesting and we’re keen to go back and give some of them a try. Baked Brie & rosemary served with dipping bread $20, Truffle mac and cheese $16.50, Raclette – roasted spuds & house picked cauliflower covered in melted raclette $17.50, Tasmanian pork and pistachio terrine $16.50 and beetroot, dill & walnut terrine $15.
If cheese platters aren’t your way to end a meal or you’re after something sweet they have real desserts too in the form of two sweet fondues! Dark chocolate & sea salt served with dried fruit and pretzels or White chocolate and shaved almonds served with seasonal fruit and brioche pieces, both $18 each.
After much discussion we decided we had to give the fondue a try and chose the traditional – the original swiss recipe of emmenthal, gruyer and dry white wine and a side of balsamic onions. It came ozzy in a pot with cubes of bread for dipping. With only a tea light candle as the heat source we found it didn’t stay oozy for long so jump right in when it arrives and get it while it is hot! The fondue had a beautiful strong flavour and the balsamic onions were perfect for cutting through the richness.
We left feeling the rich denseness of the fondue sitting in our bellies and decided the dish would be better shared with 3 or 4 people along with a couple of other selections from their menu.
Drew says that while Fondru has a focus on fondue it is essentially a cheese and wine bar. “It’s a lovely way to eat, pick away at platters, drink wine and chat.” They serve food through to 11pm so it is a great place to end your night with a cheese platter or fondu dessert.
They also have an impressive drinks menu which they developed with the assistance of Joseph Burton Wines and Red + White. About half the wines are from Tassie and the rest they’ve sourced from the regions they’re sourcing their cheeses from. Along with wine, beer cider and spirits they also have a cocktail menu reminiscent of the 1950s, what is old is new again and you’ll find things like The French Blonde, Whisky Sour and The Old Fashioned, ‘drinks that go well with the strength of the cheeses’.
Drew has been in the industry for around 10 years and Stuart has been busy building up a chain of 5 Zambrero’s across the State. These guys certainly don’t shy away from hard work and they work well together. While most people tell you not to go into business with friends Drew said it has been a dream working alongside Stuart.
Fondru was buzzing when we were there so we recommend you book a space.
They are at 374 Murray Street and are open Wednesday to Thursday from 5pm and Friday to Saturday from 12 noon. They open until 11:30pm.