I can't think of a kitsch 1960s hors d'oeuvre that's been most in need of a makeover as much as fondue, and though I've seen a few versions pop up here and there (and Fondue Cowboy's aren't bad), the modernized one chef David Bazirgan is doing on the new menu at Dirty Habit is especially great. As you may know, the place is newly made over, extremely different incarnation of the Fifth Floor space, and though the food still has the hallmarks of Baz's high-end training, it's certainly a way more casual set of dishes, and dining experience, than it was before.
The menu is cocktail-driven and as such there are more drinks to choose from than dishes. The food includes snack items like Thai-style wings, spiced nuts, and the like, but the best cocktail accompaniment looks to be the "Up in Smoke" fondue. Baz makes it with Cowgirl Creamery's Up In Smoke goat cheese a hickory-smoked chevre that's wrapped in smoked maple leaves that are spritzed with bourbon and serves it with toasted cubes of brioche and an unusual array of grilled and roasted seasonal vegetables, including roasted breakfast radishes, summer squash, purple carrots, fingerling potatoes, and snap peas. It's garnished with an ash made from the burnt leaves that the cheese was wrapped in.
It's a deceptively simple and delicious update to the old Emmantaler-in-a-chafing-dish version, with the freshness of the vegetables making it feel a lot lighter and healthier too. And don't worry that the fondue isn't being kept warm with two or more people there you'll polish off that shallow little portion in mere minutes.
Dirty Habit - Hotel Palomar, Fifth Floor - 12 Fourth Street - Reservations here