Faun founder and owner David Stockwell answered instantly when we asked which job was harder—his first career, as an architect, or this one, running a restaurant? “Oh, this is way harder.”
After years at a prominent New York architecture firm (he worked on the World Trade Center site redesign), David left to pursue what he describes as “a rage of passion.”
You’ll find no rage, only passion here at Faun, an oasis of style and peace on an otherwise busy Vanderbilt street in Prospect Heights. David launched the restaurant with Carla Swickerath, and his former talents are on display throughout the entire space, which is airy and modern, with dark earth tones at its base and light off-whites and grays along the walls and ceilings. It’s not big, but it’s glad not to be; intimacy is its heart. And the real gem is in the back.
Where other restaurant owners would have jammed in as many extra tables as possible, in Faun’s backyard stands a lush and wonderfully overgrown garden, full of a whole host of plants that find their way into the cocktails and food. (Who knew there were five different kinds of basil? And in Brooklyn, no less.) It’s lush and breezy, making you feel like you’re somewhere else—not the city. It’s a real respite. The garden makes the outdoor space, and the outdoor space makes the restaurant. (Although we’re excited to go back to see what winter looks like inside the cozy interior.)
The fare delivers, starting with the cocktails. More than one in our group enjoyed more than one Halo Bender, featuring vodka, crème de violette, contratto bitters, honey and lemon. This drink was truly suited for brunch. There were a few variations on the Bloody Mary available, although I, being a purist, opted for the classic—and I approve.
The first dish to arrive was one of the best—light, sweet, tantalizing popovers. Do not visit Faun and skip them. Next, we decided to share an array of the entrees, giving everyone in our group the chance to chime in.
The carbonara featured perfectly cooked pasta. For the most part, it delivered on the classic bacon, egg, and cheese combination, but was a bit heavy on the pepper.
The buckwheat crepes came with an interesting twist: smoked trout, crème fraiche, and pickled shallots. Definitely not for everyone’s taste buds. The group’s reviews on the sides were mixed, despite a fondness for the crepes.
The shrimp and polenta with cheddar was decadent. Paired with Calabrian chili oil and a poached egg, this entree was described as both silky and warm. It could have used a piece of crusty bread to offset all the creaminess, but no one complained.
The special that day was a fun take on a picnic classic, cold fried chicken, with a delicious buttermilk sauce seasoned with thyme (from the garden, of course).
Everything we ordered could stand on its own. One of our group members remarked, and we all agreed, “It’s not really great for sharing.” Each item’s flavor profiles were so distinct; group ordering definitely takes a bit more planning.
One other interesting twist is that Faun is a no-tipping restaurant; gratuity is included in the pricing. So enjoy.
The Bitches say: Five Flutes. The setting, the staff (everyone was warm and conversational), the story—it all sets Faun apart. It’s worth a visit, and if the weather’s warm, go for the garden.
Faun serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.