Finding one word to describe Jessica Biel’s hot new establishment, Au Fudge, is surprisingly tough. Yes, it’s a restaurant—the menu boasts quality organic dishes and gourmet comfort food—but it’s also a marketplace where L.A. locals can purchase imported French home décor, Danish toys, and specialty foods. Perhaps the greatest allure of the new West Hollywood locale, however, is its unique “creative space,” an impeccably designed playroom where au pairs run workshops, movie nights, and games to occupy children while their parents recoup over a champagne cocktail.
Intrigued? Take a peek inside the super-stylish restaurant that has everyone talking.
The concept behind Au Fudge is so smart and simple it’ll make you ask, Why didn’t I think of that?
“When I started a family, we were underwhelmed with most kids' spaces,” explains stylist and designer Estee Stanley, one of six Au Fudge co-founders, alongside actress Jessica Biel, producer Kimberly Muller, Barry’s Bootcamp CEO Joey Gonzalez, philanthropist Monica Saunders-Weinberg, and Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop CEO Jonathan Rollo.
“The food was awful, the places were so loud, and nothing was reading environmentally friendly or organic. So we came up with a place that both parents and kids could be happy simultaneously,” she tells MyDomaine. “And the cherry on top is our full bar!”
Kids aside, since opening its doors in March, Au Fudge has become known for its stunning interior design, playful secret doors and hidden nooks, chef-quality fare, and, most importantly, its down-to-earth vibe.
The inviting, light-drenched space blends grown-up décor and playful children’s accents with surprising ease. “We tried to create a feeling of being at your friend’s home. [It’s] a place you can relax, have great, safe food and drinks, and enjoy your life,” explains Stanley. “We wanted to create a place that you felt like you could just chill.”
Perhaps the most talked about feature of Biel’s unique new venue is the creative space, a multipurpose playroom that looks like a kid’s dream. Designing a space that’s both functional, fun, and chic is no small feat. The key? Not being too precious.
“We made all of the areas where both adults and kids ate or hung out not precious,” says Stanley. “The more worn, the better!” Vintage wooden chairs and mismatched stools give the café space an unpretentious air, while the creative space is bursting with games and wooden toys ready for use.
Brimming with Dr. Seuss books, toy trains, and chalkboards, you might have a hard time trying to get your child to leave Au Fudge’s playroom. In addition to toys and games, there’s also a roster of ever-changing events and activities. Coming up on the calendar is a stencil workshop, high tea, movie night, kids’ yoga, and a Pilates class.
While it’s naturally appealing to families with young children, actress/new mum/co-founder Jessica Biel admits she was conscious of creating a space for those without kids, too.
“My journey with Au Fudge began long before I became a mother. I approached this business from the perspective of what someone without kids would want in their favourite restaurant,” she explains. “[I want it to be] a place where you can go—regardless of being single, married, or having a family in tow.”
Oozing relaxed Californian cool as well as a distinct Parisian vibe, the restaurant décor provides the perfect setting to serve Au Fudge’s signature comfort food with a gourmet spin. Due to being in Los Angeles, there’s naturally a variety of healthy dishes on hand, but the true heroes are the slightly naughtier dishes, like chicken nuggets with spicy ranch, grilled truffle cheese sticks, and rainbow pasta with “magical butter sauce” for the little ones.
It’s no secret which part of this multiuse space is Stanley’s favourite: “I love the bar! As much as we love the fact that we are focused on families, parents also need their time away from home to have delicious food and heavenly cocktails,” she tells MyDomaine. “We wanted our community clubhouse [to appeal] to everyone.”
Perfecting the refined décor was only half the challenge of creating the charming bar. After sourcing the perfect drop-pendant lanterns, Carrara marble countertops, and elegant café-style stools, all attention went to the menu.
“We spent quite some time really curating our cocktail menu and what alcohol, wine, and champagnes we wanted to carry,” says Stanley. Touting tongue-in-cheek names, cocktails include the MILF, a low-calorie tequila concoction, and The Hound Dog, a vodka grapefruit mixer with a descriptor, Quit crying and drink this.”
Peppered with an array of local artisan fare and gorgeous French toys, the marketplace is clearly a passion project for its founders. Among the delights on offer are truffle potato chips from Spain, candy necklaces from Le Bonbon au Palais in Paris, and handmade dolls by Brooklyn brand Tiny Little Dreams. Not a L.A. local? The Au Fudge team are in the midst of creating an online store, which will launch in coming months (yes, those truffle chips will soon be yours).
It hasn’t been long since Au Fudge flung open its doors, but it’s clear that Angelenos can’t get enough of its unique offering. While we’re still grappling with a way to describe this one-of-a-kind hub, one thing’s for sure: With a killer cocktail menu, lip-smacking entrees, and ever-buzzing kids’ space, there are enough reasons to spend a whole weekend at Au Fudge. It’s finding a reason to leave that’s the hard part.
Have you visited Au Fudge? Tell us about it below.