Fig & Olive
10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022-5308
Upon landing in New York City, I immediately dove into Restaurant Week, a fabulous opportunity for New Yorkers to sample prix fixe menus from some amazing restaurants for a fraction of the usual price. Restaurant Weeks are celebrated in most big cities, so if you get a chance, you should definitely go.
Fig & Olive
Roit and I made reservations for the Fig & Olive conveniently located between 5th Ave and Madison, on a random Friday night, and were surprised that we didn’t actually need one. Most of the tables were empty, and there was a nice subdued ambiance about the restaurant.
Before we even had the chance to review the menu, we were brought delicious focaccia bread and olive oil tasting, comprised of 3 very unique olive oils. For the life of me, I can’t remember the exact names, but I do remember taking a liking to a very fruity, sweet, and vibrant oil imported from Australia. The others had earthy and herbaceous undertones, and all were subtly aromatic. Truth be told, I’ve never been olive oil tasting, but just that opportunity at Fig & Olive made me really appreciate the art of making olive oil.
From the prix fixe dinner menu, we started with the Zucchini Carpaccio and Chicken Samosa. The carpaccio was standard as thinly sliced raw meat goes, but the difference was in the pinenuts and bright olive oil that really brought some zing to the carpaccio. My chicken samosa was distinctly Mediterranean, with a nice herby Greek yogurt dip and harissa (North African hot chili) oil. It was a nice change up from the heavily spiced Indian samosa.
In addition, we also ordered shrimp ceviche off the regular menu, and I’m glad we did! Halved shrimp were bathed in a lemon, scallion, red onion and fennel concoction – the marriage of the sweet shrimp and the tart juice were divine on the toasted buttery crostini. There was crunch and texture, and tons of flavor with every bite.
For the main course, I had the grilled lamb skewers and couscous. The grilled lamb was moist and tender (and not too gamy!!) and because they were speared on a sprig of rosemary, the aroma was to die for! The saltiness of the meat and crunch from the bell pepper and a splash of the yogurt/honey combination – resulted in a feast of flavors in your mouth. As the restaurant is named Fig & Olive, figs and olives were incorporated into several of the dishes, particularly my couscous, which added a bright sweetness to the otherwise bland grains.
Roit ordered the carmelized cod, which was served with a sweet and tangy raspberry balsamic vinegar alongside a bed of sweet garden vegetables, such as baby carrots, artichokes, turnips, and pearl onions. The fillet was flaky and its natural sea salt contrasted nicely with the tart vinegar and sweet vegetables.
For dessert, we had a chocolate pot de creme and fresh berries served on mascarpone cheese on shortbread. The chocolate custard was too rich for my liking, but the crostini was a nice light ending to a good meal.
In creating this menu, I think the head chefs put a lot of effort into creating a well balanced and well rounded meal. Every flavor had it’s complementary foil, and great effort was employed to create a visually and olfactorily pleasing meal.
Despite delicious food and excellent atmosphere, the service here is really terrible. The server forgot our wine, even after we had reminded him a second time. To some, the pace may be a bit slow, but it helps foster a leisurely ambiance that forces conversation and enjoyment of the food. If you are in a rush, Fig & Olive is not for you. Overall though, I really enjoyed my experience, and can’t wait to try the other dishes or even purchase some of their specialty olive oils.
Restaurant Week Summer 2010 just ended in NYC, but that doesn’t mean the end of my New York eats. Until next time!