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Fig & Olive

January 22, 2013

Last year, my husband went to a business dinner at a new trendy, and hip Los Angeles restaurant.  He came home that night and raved over the experience.  The food, the presentation, and the setting were amazing, he said, oh, and sitting at a table that was situated in between tables with celebrities on either side of their table didn’t hurt either.  He’s been raving about the restaurant for months and has been saying that I need to go and try the restaurant for myself.  As my birthday was recently came and went, he suggested that for my birthday meal we go out to eat at this particular restaurant.  After having listened to him go on and on about this restaurant, I needed to try it for myself to see what the big deal was!

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Fig & Olive Restaurant is actually a New York-based restaurant that has recently expanded to include a restaurant on Melrose Place in Los Angeles, and soon-t0-be a new location in the trendy Fashion Island Mall in Orange County.  The restaurant’s founder, Laurent Halasz grew up in Mougins, in the South of France, in an area known as the “Cuisine of the Sun.”  It is from these origins that he created a restaurant with the philosophy of using genuine ingredients which respect the flavors of the cuisine.  Along with Executive Chef Pascal Lorange, Fig & Olive brings together the “best olive oils, flavors and cuisine from the Riviera & Coastal regions of the South of France, Italy and Spain.”

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The restaurant features a very large, and fully stocked bar and lounge area where the bar is actually a long communal table and tasting bar which encourages informal gatherings with dishes specifically crafted to be shared among friends in a family-style setting.  Upon entering the restaurant, you’re greeted with light and bright decor which helps to bring in the influence of the Mediterranean.

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The dining room is clean, modern and casual, punctuated by an olive tree that grows in the middle of the dining room, and an open kitchen which is illuminated by shelves filled with the restaurant’s own olive oil.  The seating includes plush, cushion-filled, bench-style seating to and rows of fresh rosemary bushes to help infuse the feeling of sitting in a restaurant on the Mediterranean coast.  This was going to be good!

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Fig & Olive has an extensive menu of starters, charcuterie, cheeses, soups, salads and entrees, all of which feature a different kind of extra virgin olive oil which helps to accentuate the flavors of the ingredients.  It all sounded so good I didn’t know where to begin or what to order!

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Before we get to dinner, I have to mention something unique about the drink I ordered at Fig & Olive.  Now, before you get ahead of yourselves thinking it’s some frou frou cocktail, it wasn’t.  And if you wonder why, when I speak of drinks you never see me describe a cocktail or wine or any other kind of alcoholic drink, I should mention that I don’t actually drink.  So, all you’ll ever see out of me is plain Jane drinks.  Anyhow, I ordered a Shirley Temple to go with my meal and when the glass came to the table I thought it was really cute that they put olives in the drink so that it was like a cocktail.  I guess after all, this is Fig & Olive, olives are in their name, might as well put it in the drink!008

After we had ordered, the waiter brought to our table a bread and olive oil tasting plate.  The bread is the restaurant’s own home-made rosemary bread, which as our waiter said is fantastic on its own.  The olive oil tasting was a sample of three different types of olive oil from three different countries, all with very distinctive flavors.  On the far right was a very full flavored olive oil from California that had hints of artichoke and olives.  This was, by far, my favorite of the three olive oils with its bold flavor.  The olive oil in the middle a bit milder with more of an almond note from Italy.  This was my husband’s favorite olive oil of the three.  Finally, the olive oil on the left was a fruity, floral flavored olive oil from Spain.  We both agreed that this one was our least favorite olive oil.

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To start off our meal, my husband ordered crostinis.  My husband had tried a selection of their crostinis the first time he was here and I remember him coming home and raving to me about how amazing the crostinis were.  The restaurant features a selection of 9 different crostinis which highlights the use of figs and olive oil.  We chose an order of 3 different crostinis – beet with ricotta thyme, orange and raspberry; prosciutto ricotta fig, olive and walnuts; and salmon with ricotta, citrus and cilantro.  I loved the salmon crostini.  The salmon was so tender and moist and melt-in-your-mouth and the citrus was bold and fresh with the creamy ricotta and the cilantro.  It was delicious.  I also tried the prosciutto, which I liked but not as much as the salmon.  But, then again, I am not a big fig or olive fan, which is ironic since this restaurant is called Fig & Olive.  My husband said he’d never had the beet crostini before and really liked it for its brightness.  In asking him to choose his favorite, my husband said that he liked all three of them and didn’t have a favorite.

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Before we headed to the restaurant, I was reading some reviews online, and I had seen particular mention of the appetizer that I chose to order.  In fact, one reviewer mentioned it as the best serving of this particular dish he had ever been served at any restaurant.  The dish was the beef carpaccio.  The beef carpaccio was served with 18 year balsamic, tomato, parmesan and white truffle oil.  The dish looked like a work of art when it was presented at the table.  One bite of the carpaccio and I was in heaven.  I’ve tried a lot of carpaccio lately, and this may have been the best that I’ve tasted.  The 18 year balsamic was completely over-the-top ridiculously, outrageously good.  I was in love.  The tomatoes were just tart enough to cut through the sweetness of the beef carpaccio and the balsamic.  And the shaved parmesan added the perfect salty taste to balance the peppery taste of the arugula.  This dish was awesome!  I was so excited about the rest of the meal.

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Since we were there celebrating a special occasion, we decided to splurge a bit and ordered another small appetizer that we could share – crab cakes.  We have a hard time resisting crab cakes.  These crab cakes were served with bell pepper, shallot, horseradish, lemon, cilantro and sweet pimenton aioli.  To the table came three small bite-sized crab cakes.  The outside of the crab cake was perfectly cooked crispy and the inside was packed with crab meat and very little filler, though the flavor of the bell pepper did come through.  The sweet pimenton aioli was the perfect accompaniment to this dish; in fact, it made the dish.  My husband said that these crab cakes weren’t anything special compared to crab cakes elsewhere, but that the aioli was the best part of the dish, and this is from someone who rarely likes sauce of any kind on his food.

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For my entrée, I ordered the filet mignon.  The filet is a Painted Hills Farms grass-fed filet marinated with rosemary, thyme, garlic, haricot vert, caramelized shallot, and olive oil chive mashed potatoes.  The filet would also be served with a side of Arbequina olive oil bernaise.  The filet was tender and cooked a perfect medium rare.  You could really taste the herbs in the file and the caramelized shallots were so good.  The olive oil chive mashed potatoes were a great accompaniment to the dish.  I tried the olive oil bernaise sauce, but felt that the filet was tastier without the bernaise sauce, so I didn’t really touch it.

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My husband knew before we went to the restaurant what he would order for his entrée, it was the same entrée he ordered when he went for his business dinner at the restaurant.  It was a meal that he couldn’t stop talking about.  My husband ordered the mediterranean branzino which was glazed in fig and 18 year old balsamic vinegar, snow pea, fig, and olive oil mashed potatoes and finished with Koroneiki olive oil.  The fish was so perfectly cooked.  The fish skin was crispy and glazed so deliciously, and the branzino meat was tender and moist and full of flavor.  It was some of the most amazing fish I’d ever tasted, and it wasn’t even my meal.  I already knew my husband loved it, and he loved the accompaniments of the snowpeas and the figs, both of which were fresh and perfectly cooked.  My husband says that he could go back to Fig & Olive ten times and he’d order the same entrée, he likes it that much.

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For dessert, I was torn between two of their dessert items.  After going back and forth, my husband told me to order one of them, and then he’d order a dessert sampler plate that included a small sample of the other dish I was looking at and this way I could try it from his dessert.  My husband ordered Andrew’s sharing & tasting plate which came with 4 bite-sized desserts of dessert crostini, mango sorbet, chocolate pot de creme and miniature marzipan cake.  The dessert crostini is a mini pistachio shortbread with mascarpone, micro basil and amarena cherry.  My husband liked the dessert crostini and said that the cherry was really tasty.  Next up was the mango sorbet which was incredibly fresh and rich with mango flavor, but without tasting too sweet or artificial.  The third dessert was the one I was torn between ordering, the chocolate pot de creme.  The pot de creme was topped with crunchy praline financiers, which really were very crunchy, and vanilla creme.  The pot de creme was very well done, velvety smooth and light without being too bittersweet or over the top.

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Of the four desserts, my husband’s favorite was the marzipan cake served with olive oil gelato and candied orange olive oil on the side which you drizzle over the cake.  You can see the candied orange olive oil in the mini carafe on the side.  It only takes a little bit to get the full effect.  I’m not a huge fan of marzipan, but I certainly thought that this dessert was outstanding.  The flavor of the cake was robust and almond-y.  But the cake itself was moist and chewy.  The candied orange olive oil was over the top and fantastic.  My husband absolutely loved it, and our waiter had said that this was his favorite dessert as well.

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For my dessert, I ordered the warm chocolate souffle with candied orange and vanilla ice cream.  Served piping hot to the table in a ramekin straight out of the oven, this souffle was rich, lucious and decadent.  Perfectly baked on the outside, and yet still melty and rich on the other side.  The souffle was filled with incredible chocolate ganache inside as well as bits of candied oranges.  The candied oranges were a terrific touch.  The candied orange added texture to the souffle, but also helped to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate ganache.  There was just the right amount of candied orange to the souffle and I think it really made the souffle.  It was definitely something I’d never seen in a souffle before.  The souffle was topped by a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream which quickly began to melt as soon as it was scooped atop the hot souffle.  This dessert definitely had the wow factor!

I loved Fig & Olive.  The atmosphere of the restaurant is the perfect mix of stylish, comfortable, cozy and romantic.  The food is terrific.  Everything I tried, I loved.  I would definitely come back to the restaurant in a heartbeat.  You can’t beat quality food with fresh ingredients and made with a level of sophistication that you don’t find at many restaurants.  This was a terrific birthday celebration.  I think my husband did a good job in picking this one out!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2013 5:57 am

    It sounds like you had an outstanding meal.

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  1. Brunch at Fig & Olive | Ducky's Always Hungry

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