Sure, Williamsburg is a long way from the slopes, but this winter you can take part in the city version of après-ski rituals at the Fondue Chalet.
The seasonal pop-up– another establishment from the proprietor of a regular army of food and drink outlets including Diviera Drive (the fantasy yacht club restaurant just down the street), Soho’s Rintintin and Café Select, and LES party den, Happy Ending– opened on Friday, and plenty of guests were ready to get slippy.
Located on Berry Street and tucked away from the bustle of Bedford, the 40-seater “chalet” does its best to transport diners to the Alps with the requisite red-and-white tablecloths and vintage ski posters. The menu includes a kale salad and an on-trend charcuterie plate, but of course, the main event is the cheese.
The kitchen has a few versions on offer, all priced in the $20-per-person range. The house fondue is a secret mixture of gruyere, raclette, white wine, and other cheeses. There are also truffle oil, dark beer and tomato-olive versions. In a Swiss variation on the fondue dip, the Chalet also serves raclette on table-top grills– watch it melt until it’s ready to be scraped onto your plate.
Strumm’s hoping customers will flock to the cheesy communal experience during the holidays. “Fondue, it’s a very comfort-food kind of thing,” he said. “You eat it together in the cold winter months and you bond over it.”
Which is to say, you might want to follow Swiss tradition and bring someone to cozy up to. “If you lose bread while dunking, you have to kiss the person across the table from you, or order a new bottle of wine,” Strumm explained. Besides bread cubes, the fondue bowls come with vegetables, charcuterie and kirsch– a cherry brandy, which you can dip your bread into before smothering it in cheese.
Insider tip: ask for an egg when you’re almost finished. Strumm says most Swiss wouldn’t miss the chance to mix the raw yolks with the burnt cheese crusties on the bottom.
And if you’re dining on the weekend, you might want to walk off your cheese coma with a browse through the Williamsburg Holiday Market, held next door at Diviera Drive through February. Some crafty gifting ideas include functional sculptures from Yes Pls, home goods from Wax and Wane Candle, and prints from Perchance Press.
Fondue Chalet, Williamsburg, 125 Berry Street; open for dinner 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday-Sunday, through March.
Williamsburg Holiday Market, 131 Berry street; open Thursday-Sunday until Christmas, then weekend through February.