When I first heard of my 6:30 dinner reservations I thought, why so early. Traffic down to Santa Monica was light and I arrived a little early. When I got to my table the sun was just was starting to take its evening bath. The scene was a perfect way to start our dinner. We were met by a charcuterie plate that offered a nice array of meats and cheeses along with wine grape raisins and Marcona almonds. We also sipped on some delicious strawberry and basil cocktails that set the tone for a wonderful farm to plate dinner. As I looked over the menu I was charmed by the fact that there were headings for strawberries, beets, peas and carrots. Usually you see your standard four legs, two legs and gills categories. I found Fig’s commitment to showcasing local produce refreshing.
The strawberry salad came with dried and fresh berries. At first I found the dried berries a bit curious. I thought of those dehydrated berries in cereals and bristled. Once I bit into the dried strawberry I was pleased by its crispness, it wasn’t dry and chewy as I expected. The salad had a nice light dressing, skinless Marcona almonds and a bright finish with fresh dill and mint. Four small romaine hearts came to the table next and I thought, “Another salad?” You do open yourself to will of the chef. Once I sliced through the crisp and savory grilled lettuce, reggiano and anchovy I thought out loud, “you can bring me salads ALL NIGHT”. If you told me you were thinking of pairing chorizo with clams I might discourage you from going forward. I was stunned by how well Chef Ray Garcia pulled the two ingredients together well with fava beans and mache. As I ate this dish I made sure I got one razor clam, a bit of chorizo and at least two fava beans on my fork. I hope this stays on the menu for a while.
During our dinner we had a visit from Philip McGrath of McGrath Family Farm. He was enjoying the fruits…and vegetables of his labor as they were the star of the show on this night. As a boy I practically grew up on my grandfather’s farm in Western Pennsylvania. Seeing the pride and celebration of a celebrated farmer made me a little nostalgic for those days when I could barely reach the counter in my grandfathers produce stand. The entre arrived, a pappardelle with braised rabbit, carrots and fresh mint. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen rabbit on a menu in Los Angeles. The braised hop along was unbelievably tender and the broth it produced helped the broad, hearty pasta from being as heavy. The portion on this plate was larger than expected and certainly presented value for the price.
The Farm Dinner at Fig is something everyone should try before the changing season demands a change in the menu. As I look over this menu I’m reminded that I need to get back soon myself as there are so many items that I want to try.
101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401-1106