“We were trying to figure out a composed cheese plate,” says chef Brian Leth of his purposefully concise dessert menu at Faun, the now-month-old Italian restaurant in Prospect Heights. “It was my sous-chef’s idea — let’s put some sprinkles on it.” It’s an outlier on the Faun menu, which otherwise plays it totally straight: A delicate sheet of pasta tops warm tomatoes and stracciatella cheese. Pork ribs are as tender and meaty as you could ever hope. And for dessert, the panna cotta that’s basically required to be on the menu at a charming little neighborhood restaurant like this has the ideal amount of wobble, along with some barely cooked blueberries on the side.
So sprinkles were not exactly a menu must-have, but they decided to try sous-chef Jordan Heissenberger’s idea anyway. A staffer was dispatched to the local Met market down the street, and the sprinkles were indeed applied to some gorgonzola piccante, the buttery deeply veined Italian blue cheese, even though the only sprinkles they could find were red and green. “First night,” Leth says, “it was like the Christmas special.”
Needless to say, a rainbow pack has since been procured for the version that’s currently on the menu, which also includes toasted walnuts and apricots soaked in Cocchi Americano. The actual menu, though, gives no indication sprinkles will be involved, so the first thing you think when it hits the table is “Huh?” It’s like it got sent out on a dare. A server, realizing this is probably not what you were expecting, just offers a “Surprise.”
It works, though. The sprinkles don’t really have any flavor beyond sugar, so they mostly amplify the cheese’s natural sweetness. Same effect as a nice plum compote or whatever, but the junky version. Still, it’s … odd. “There’s a lot of humor in the food that I do,” Leth says, when asked about keeping it on the menu. “That’s one the more obviously funny things.”
It’s also obvious Instagram bait, and part of me still thinks it could possibly be some kind of elaborate prank. But there’s definitely a joke in there about the twee artisanalism that came to define Brooklyn dining over the last decade. “I don’t think we’ll be doing too much else in the way of sprinkles,” Leth admits. “We can get away with it, I hope, since the rest of the food is being made in-house. I guess we figured, on one dish, we can go buy rainbow sprinkles.”