Fig and Olive- Meatpacking District
August 27, 2015
The Meatpacking District is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC because of how trendy it is and how it's packed with steel and glass lofts, with the sun pouring through their oversized windows. It always gives me an electric feeling walking around the cobblestone streets, looking at the Chelsea Market, and walking the High Line. All of that sprightliness is encapsulated perfectly into the Fig and Olive. It has floor to ceiling windows, that let rays stream in, reinforced by industrial steal, framing the beautiful neighborhood its located in. The loft-like space of the restaurant has many rugged aspects like the hanging warehouse pendant lights and the metallic components throughout, however Fig and Olive also has a calm Mediterranean feel to its decor. The industrial aspects are balanced out by their clay walls, sky lights, and olive plants scattered around the restaurant. There are also modern characteristics woven into the restaurant's design, with aspects like their full wall shelves of wine and olive oil. Those olive oils are Fig and Olive's own brand that offers many high quality varieties of oil and they are shown off abundantly throughout the dishes on their menu. For seating, you can sit at the comfortable tables arranged around the vast space or you can sit at the long marble communal tables. The cuisine that Fig and Olive specializes in are classic recipes from around the Mediterranean that they give their own modern twist. They make their Spanish and Italian recipes with just-out-of-the-water seafood, local vegetables at the absolute peak of freshness, and tons of their aromatic olive oils. The food at Fig and Olive, like the restaurant, is clean, simple, and incredible.
For appetizers, their famous truffle mushroom croquettes are always going to be a great choice. They were so incredibly perfect. The amazingly crispy coating to the croquettes just crack under the pressure of your bite to seep out a filling of an impossibly umami béchamel of cremini mushroom and Parmesan cheese. The filling is so creamy and rich with a pungent mushroom flavor that is accented with the Parmesan. If that wasn't enough of a savory mushroom explosion, the croquettes are sprinkled with a rich truffle olive oil aioli. If you don't understand the concept of umami, you need to try this. Every component of this dish is so filled with the meaty, addictive flavor.
Another great option for an appetizer is the octopus a la gallega, their great adaptation of the traditional Spanish dish, Pulpo A La Gallega. They have made a more sophisticated and refined version of the usually rustic octopus dish. The properly cooked octopus a la gallega at Fig and Olive is sliced paper thin making it outstandingly tender. It is also topped with ingredients that complement the octopus. The marinated bell peppers have sour and briny flavor that tastes that enhances the flavor of the seafood. The heirloom potatoes are cooked perfectly and are soft and creamy, though I thought it was strange paring with octopus. The micro-arugula has that well loved peppery flavor without any of the grassy flavor that its fully grown counterpart has. The pepperiness cuts the briny, sourness of the lemon dressing. This dish is perfect for the summer because it is light and refreshing.
For entrees, the rosemary lamb is a dish that utilizes Greek flavors and ingredients. The chunks of lamb are skewered onto a sprig of rosemary, which is a genius idea, except for the fact that the lamb lacked any kind of flavor. The Greek yogurt sauce was added a good tang that cut the richness of the lamb and added a creamy, yet light aspect to the dish making it more cohesive. The couscous was was well cooked and chock full of fresh, fragrant vegetables like onions that add a spice, bell peppers that add a sweetness, and scallions that add a herbaceousness. The vegetable added great flavor, though they were chopped a little too chunky for my liking, making it hard to bind it all together, Overall the lamb was not my favorite dish, but was still made and thought out well.
The Penne Funghi Tartufo is the second part of a truffle marathon. The penne was cooked perfectly al dente, with just a slight chew to add a heft to the dish. The same ingredients that were in the croquets are represented here too. Now instead of being blended into a sauce, the cremini mushrooms are displayed proudly, folded into the pasta. This is again sprinkled with a generous portion of white truffle olive oil and if that isn't rich enough, they add giant shavings of some of the best Parmesan that I have ever had, just slowly softening into the hot penne. In this dish, the copious amounts of rich mushrooms are balanced ingenious with the addition of some parsley.
The Summer Vegetable Fettuccine exhibits so many of the local fresh vegetables that are grown in New York and the surrounding area. The fresh tomatoes, snow peas, and the baby kale are minimally messed with because they are already so perfect. They are just tossed into the fettuccine and accented with goat cheese and pesto. This is another one of Fig and Olive's classic delicious, bright dish.
The chocolate pot de creme at Fig and Olive is made differently than the normal preparation. Usually a pot de creme is chocolate or vanilla whipped with egg whites into an airy custard, but at Fig and Olive they make an intangibly light vanilla cream and into this cream, a dollop of thick, rich dark chocolate. The juxtaposition of the cool, etherial vanilla custard, with the warm, gloopy heap of thick, bitter chocolate is brilliantly harmonious. Accompanied with the pot de creme is a crunchy praline financiers that is at the brink of being too hard, but when used to scoop up the luscious chocolate it is loosened slightly to add a great texture and toasted flavor. This is a flawlessly constructed dessert.
Another great option for the summer is a refreshing, almost revitalizing raspberry sorbet that rounds out the meal. The raspberry sorbet is made with in season raspberries that are tart and sweet. The thick, icy cold sorbet is counterbalanced that with a light whipped cream and a crunchy meringue that adds a different consistency. The meringue is crisp and once you take a bite it dissolves on your tongue. The sorbet is a stunning dish where the white meringue and whipped cream makes the deep crimson of the raspberries pop. This dish, like many others at Fig and Olive, are thought out impeccably and composed with the utmost attention to details.
Fig and Olive is a beautiful restaurant in the heart of the Meatpacking district that serves their own creations that are inspired by classic Mediterranean cuisine. The food is comforting and refreshing, using superior in season produce.