Monday, March 17, 2014

Beautiful and Flavorful: Fig & Olive (Restaurant Week)

TL;DR: ★★★★☆

Great Restaurant Week deal; would come back for regular lunch.

Food: ★★★★☆
Ambiance: ★★★★★
Staff: ★★★★☆

Number of visits: 1

13th St. Between 9th & 10th Aves. (among other locations)

Eeeek, so I'm a little late on reviewing this since we were here for Restaurant Week (which ended a couple weeks ago — but will be back in August!), but better late than never, right? Right.

Anyway, in honor of Restaurant Week and the visit of my friend's sister, we decided to check out Fig & Olive's RW lunch special. On a very cold Monday afternoon, we came in around 1 p.m. and were immediately mesmerized by how stunning the venue was. The lighting was absolutely perfect, the decor was gorgeous and well-arranged, and the restaurant itself was spotless. It gave kind of a modern-rustic feel, with a fancy-but-not-snooty vibe.

Bar seating

We were seated promptly as it was not busy at all (but also not completely empty), and after a quick glance, we ordered our RW specials: a 3-course meal for $25 with several options to choose from for appetizer, entree and dessert.

RW and regular lunch menus

Olive bread with olive oil

I'll start with the bread. These were stupidly good — we asked for more like three times, I think. They were very simple pieces of olive bread, but they were perfectly plush and soft, and the hint of the savory olive flavor was so delicious. The olive oil that came with it was a great accompaniment, though the bread was good to eat on its own too. 

Beef carpaccio with 18-year balsamic, tomato, parmesan (opted out), white truffle oil

For my appetizer, I decided to go with the beef carpaccio as I had never tried it before. And I have to say, I was not impressed. I knew ordering this would be a bit of a gamble for me, but I didn't think I'd dislike it as much as I did. Now, I've had raw meat before — granted, it was the Korean version Yook Hwe (육회), which is quite different from this carpaccio — so it's not that I was repulsed by the concept of uncooked meat. But rather, this carpaccio was far too drenched in white truffle oil, making the entire dish overly greasy and unsettling. The thin slices of beef were fine, but the pairing of raw, almost completely unseasoned beef with a pool of heavy, full-bodied oil was too much for me. My friend really liked it though, so maybe I'm just being too picky.

Chicken tajine with fig, apricot, various veggies, almond, couscous and sauces

Though disappointing me a bit with the carpaccio, Fig & Olive instantly redeemed itself with the chicken tajine. My goodness, was this a beautifully executed dish; the chicken, which seemed like chicken thighs, were outstandingly tender, soft and so, so flavorful. The meat fell off the bone very easily, and the seasoning was done perfectly. 

Close up of the chicken

The fruit and veggies accompanying the meat were also great — I loved the addition of the apricots! The couscous was also good, though nothing mind-blowing. And lastly, the side sauces, cilantro and harissa (a type of chili pepper), were divine. 

Close up of cousous, toasted almonds, condiments

This dish was a huge medley of various flavors, all of which worked incredibly well together, making it probably one of the best Mediterranean entrees I've ever had. Seriously, kudos to the chef on this one.

Chocolate pot de creme with praline financier and vanilla cream

And last but not least was the dessert. There were two choices, the chocolate pot de creme or a dessert crostini, but with me being such a chocolate fiend, it was a no-brainer that I go for the pot de creme. And of course, this was a great decision. The chocolate pudding-like dessert was insanely rich and decadent; every bite had me falling out of my seat. Also, the ever-so-slightly whipped cream on top was just sweet and milky enough to balance off the strong chocolate flavor of the custard underneath.

And OH. MY. GOD. This praline financier. HNNNNGGGG. It was one of the best things I'd put in my mouth in a long time. The delicate hazelnut-flavored cookie/wafer was seriously amazing — I would buy boxes and boxes full of it if I could.

OK, so now that I've sufficiently raved about the food, I just want to quickly make a note of the service. While the server and host were definitely friendly and polite, I had to take a star off for the speed (or lack thereof). Maybe it was because we came here during odd hours, but our server and chefs seriously seemed to be taking their sweet, sweet time. We were here for about an hour and 40 minutes not because we were chatting up a storm between bites — it just took them this long to get all of our food to us. It was a good thing that we had met up a couple hours before we had to go to work/other engagements, but had we been here for a 1-hour lunch break, we would not have been happy with the slow service.

Nonetheless, the three of us thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Fig & Olive. I would certainly come back here for their regular menu, though the dinner menu does get a bit pricey (but lunch isn't so bad!). Maybe I'll pay another visit once the weather is nice (and stays nice for once) and try out their patio seating.

P.S. Check out their bathrooms. Their paper towels are so unbelievably soft that you'll be tempted to take some home.


  1. I have to say, your description of the dessert is definitely food porn by itself. And I think I agree with you that truffle oil, if used at all, should be used sparingly. Excellent review! Time to drop by and steal some paper towels ;)

    1. I'd be down to go back just for the pot de creme (and the towels). I'm mouthgasming all over again just thinking about it, mmmmmm

  2. Yeah, I had lunch at this restaurant with my family. We have got best boozy brunch nyc there, and we all had enjoyed it, as it was delicious. I will highly recommend all to go there once, and hey, we got discounts too!!