By Jan Walsh
Fancy’s on Fifth is Avondale’s newest restaurant. It is located at 416 41st Street South and is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close. And tonight it is packed with those who live in the neighborhood.
The roughhewn restaurant, located directly across the street from Avondale Park, seats 65 inside and more on the covered patio. There is an open kitchen, full bar, and a banquette lining the window with tables surrounding. Touches of whimsy also dot the space. Above the private bar is a neon octopus and an iron octopus chandelier hangs above the booth. A collection of antique swords hangs on the wall near the kitchen. And as an added touch of eclectic, both a Rubik’s Cube and a Magic 8 ball are placed on each table.
Fancy’s on Fifth is owners Paget Pizitz and Harriet Reis’s third venture together. Their first was the Melt food truck, which led to the two opening the Melt restaurant in 2014. The two restaurants, Fancy’s on Fifth and Melt, are located on the same street and on opposite corners from each other. Joey Dickerson is the executive chef at both restaurants. Dave Bell is sous chef at Fancy’s on Fifth. And tonight’s service staff is polite and informative.
This is our first visit to Fancy’s, and we start with the smoked tuna dip and chorizo oysters. A large mound of creamy tuna is accompanied by a half dozen fresh crackers. The tuna is not over smoked, so the freshness shines through. Tonight’s lineup of oysters is Bluepoint, Vavavoom, Sweet Jesus, Rappahannock, and Hollywood. The oysters are baked with chorizo and white cheddar polenta and arrive golden surrounding a serving of salsa verde. Both dishes were delicious, but I would come here just for the tuna dip.
Looking over the burger menu, I notice there is a veggie burger option on a gluten-free bun or lettuce wraps. But we decide on the signature burgers: Fancy’s Burgers and the Ramen Burger. Chef Dickerson also sends out an extra one, the Italian Stallion, the week’s special burger. We failed to notice on the menu that sides do not come with the burgers until ours were served. They are available for an additional charge and options include fries, corn, polenta, or salad.
If you love Krystal burgers but hate to admit it, Fancy’s Burgers are the ones for you. Similar to Krystal burgers in style, they arrive with two slider buns. Filled with beef patties, grilled onions, pickles, American cheese, and mustard, Fancy’s Burgers are small in size but big in flavor. The sushi lover enjoys the Ramen Burger. A ramen noodle “bun” is overfilled with four ounces of seared Ahi tuna, with three slices resting alongside the bun. A delicious ginger remoulade slaw and green onion round out the sandwich. And the Italian Stallion satisfies the carnivore at the table. One look, and we know where the beef is—six ounces of Angus beef, along with layers of bacon, Roma tomatoes, sundried tomato aioli, fried provolone, and arugula pesto. It makes the mouth water at first glance and satisfies the beef lover until last bite.