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Fig + Olive Meatpacking Fails to Deliver


Fig & Olive Meatpacking Fails to Deliver


Sery Kim

With eight restaurants, including the location opened last week in Washington, D.C., Fig + Olive has accomplished what 99% of diners (and restaurant reviewers) have not: created a multi-million dollar business in the grueling restaurant industry. However, after spending an uncomfortable dinner at Fig + Olive Meatpacking, I am confounded at their success.

To start with, despite a surprisingly cavernous dining room, each table was an annoyingly cramped space behooving the nearly $15-21 appetizers and $26-42 entree. The money clearly did not go to furniture nor was table size remotely considered when purchasing plating since a single dish spanned the length of the table, while two dishes at this “small plate” establishment meant precarious balancing beyond the edge of the table.

This hodgepodge of spatial dexterity could have been forgiven if either the food or cocktails were a symphony of balanced flavors. After all, Parisian bistros have very small tables. Unfortunately, everything more closely resembled a train wreck rather than the bliss of life in France.

The suggested cocktail Cucumber Cosmo arrived without a sliver of the elderflower liqueur or cucumber puree. Instead, this “organic cucumber vodka” with fresh lime juice was served straight up with a quadruple portion of lime. The hideous ensuing bitterness of this essentially lime juice with alcohol was not erased by the more measured glass of Domaine de Tonnellerie Sancerre 2013.

Additionally, any helpfulness of the peachy minerality of the Sancerre was deterred with the slow and intermittent service. Fifteen minutes went by before we were greeted; the water glasses remained mostly unfilled; and a lack of interest in taking the food order merely added to what was quickly descending into a farcical dinner.

As for the food at this Mediterranean themed menu, as someone who has just returned from Italy and was dining with a French born chef, the tastes of Fig + Olive’s presentation was a pale imitation of the sourced countries of Spain, France and Italy.

The popular Crostini’s (3 for 12, 6 for 21) had a stale crunchiness of bread which felt as though they had been sitting out uncovered for days. None of the ingredients laid on top helped the base. Then the pleasantness of the Spanish Jamon Iberico (28) was overdone. The beauty of this four to six week curing process is the lack of any garnishes.

Same complaint for the entree of Rosemary Lamb Chops (39). Overcooked with too much salt, Fig + Olive should have used sweet potato gnocchi with a puree of eggplant instead of the too pungent goat cheese & chive gnocchi and braised eggplant with honey & thyme. As presented, the dish felt like the chef was desperately trying to pimp the food with as many tastes as they could get in rather than letting one element blossom as the focal point.

In fact, all the appetizers, could have used more of the beautiful simplicity of Fig + Olive’s olive oil, which was presented in a small, triple platter dish for dipping. Particularly, the Arbequina Olive Oil blossomed with an initially sharp tang before melting into a subtly fresh finish. You will be sorely tempted to purchase a bottle of it on the spot. Additionally, the accompanying bread was fresh and lively with an easy depth for soaking the olive oil. Simple and elegant, the olive oil dish (which was not ordered but comes to every table complimentary) was the best thing you will try at Fig + Olive.

If, after all of this, you still desire dessert, pay your bill and walk out of the restaurant to the nearest frozen yogurt shop. All the desserts lack the same sweetness missing from the cocktails.

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