A long time ago, when I first started dating my boyfriend, we made a promise that every time we went out for dinner we would go somewhere different. In a city like LA, with constant new restaurant openings and a plethora of dining options, why would one not chose to try something new every night? It’s easy to stick to exploratory motives, until you encounter a place that you just can’t wait to go back to, like Fig & Olive.
Upon approaching the entrance, a glimpse of two chipper chefs through the window, preparing what will surely be the most scrumptious tortes and freshly baked olive oil bread this side of the hemisphere, make a great first impression, even before one is inside. While the restaurant is nestled on the corner of the discreetly fabulous Melrose Place at La Cienega, stepping inside feels like an instant vacation (without the long flight) to the coast of the Mediterranean. Limestone stucco walls, high terra-cotta ceiling, and green rosemary and olive trees: what more could one want from a dining experience? Well, except for extraordinary food.
When catching up with a good friend over dinner, it can often be difficult to make menu decisions in a timely matter, especially when everything on the menu sounds extremely delightful. My companion and I, being the gabbing girls that we are, decided to put our trust in sensational service director, Janine Geisick, and let her plan our entire tasting. And boy, what a great decision that was.
First, delivered to our table by a creative mixologist named Michael, were sparkling citrus cocktails that we were informed, were not even on the menu yet. A perfect prelude to what was to come.
Brought to our table was a ceviche sampler that, for lack of a better word on earth, was heavenly. I can actually picture cherubs devouring it. Salmon Ceviche prepared with orange, grapefruit, lemon, and cilantro, Branzino ceviche prepared with red onion, tomatio, fennel, and dill, Sesame Tuna Tartar ceviche, and shrimp ceviche was enough to make my taste buds sing. This starter, paired with a sampler of the crostinis (Mushroom, Truffled Artichoke, Parmesan, Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond, and Prosciutto, Ricotta, Fig, Olive, Walnut) had us off to a grand start.
A sampling of three distinct oils, two from Australia and one from Spain, made for an exquisite dipping experience when absorbed with house-made olive oil bread. The restaurant carries over 30 different types of extra virgin olive oil ranging from a fruity and delicate varietal from Chateau Leoube in Provence to a buttery Arbequina from Melgarejo in Andalucía, Spain, a green fruit olive oil from Marquez de Grinon, Spain, and a peppery Tuscan olive oil from Villa Lucia. These are thoughtful gifts for the holidays, or perfect additions for every day cooking. Giesick, Zoubi (my dining partner), and I had a discussion about how great oils can really make the dish, especially in a salad. I myself have been purchasing mixed greens from the Hollywood farmer’s market, and can’t wait to try them with some of Fig & Olive’s special oils.
Back to the dinner! Seared sea scallops served with truffle artichoke, arugula, pine nuts with aged balsamic, and White Truffle olive oil. Yellow fin tuna carpaccio prepared with balsamic vinegar, cilantro, arugula, tomato, marcona almond, and a Jamon Serrano carpaccio with fig, warm goat cheese, chives, sherry vinegar, and Arbequina Olive Oil had both Haya and I rolling the eyes of our taste buds back in ecstasy. These courses paired with raspberry mojitos made for quite a divine tasting occurrence, definitely one for the record books.
The grand finale in the savory department was Mediterranean Branzino with fig and 18-year old balsamic, prepared with snow peas and figs in Koroneiki olive oil. The skin of the fish was crisp and light, and the meat scrumptious and tender. I highly recommend this dish.
Dessert was quite the surprise, because, as we started to reach our peak of sublime fullness, our place-settings were cleared and new ones set in their place, and we knew what to expect. While I learned that Haya is not too keen on tortes, that meant I got to eat almost all of it! The warm, crisp, apple pastry topped with a superb vanilla ice cream, was what I believe I saw being prepared in the window upon my arrival. Giesick brought us a sampling of an amazing port to pair with the dessert. In all honesty, it was so delicious that I literally knocked my drink over!
One may try as one will to visit a different restaurant every night of the week and experience something new and wonderful, but, once you find something that is almost too good to be true, it’s definitely worth a repeat visit. Or a hundred repeat visits. So, I’ll see you at Fig & Olive tonight, tomorrow, and sometime this weekend! And don’t forget to take Ms. Giesick’s recommendations.
Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Pl
@ La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069