Fig & Olive

So here’s the thing:

I’m a bit of a creature of habit.  I know what I like, and I don’t like anybody messing with it.  I’m the type of loon that buys ten of the same tank top in different colors.  (It’s a nice tank top, ok?)  I get anxiety at just the thought of change, and I plan everything meticulously so I know exactly what to expect.  I make a lot of lists, and then revisions of those lists.  I also may need medication.

So new restaurants give me a fair amount of apprehension: what if it isn’t great? What if the people I drag there with me don’t like it?  What if they put shiitake mushrooms in my husband’s lasagna and he dies?  Or– worse– what if we leave godforbid hungry?

But part of my job (that I still don’t get paid for) is to report to you on the new restaurants springing up across this planet, and report and sacrifice I will.  For the good of mankind and foodies everywhere.

Sometimes this great and sacrificial risk pays off, however, and I end up finding a new favorite.  Which is kind of almost what happened with Fig & Olive, a swanky new restaurant in the heart of West Hollywood.  Fig & Olive isn’t exactly new, since there are already four successful locations in NYC, but its newest outpost on Melrose Place (that street really exists, people!) is appropriately fresh and glamified, perfect for the beautiful people of Los Angeles to bump beautiful elbows.

It’s big- 8,000 square feet to be exact– with towering ceilings and a 50-f00t bar, a gorgeous waitstaff, ivory banquets mounded with pillows, walls adorned with bottles of olive oil and wine, rosemary plants permeating the air, and seductive lighting.  Kind of like if Ina Garten and Carrie Bradshaw decided to design a restaurant together.  It’s luxe, it’s hip, and it’s very, very cool.

The Restaurant

Maybe a little too cool.  We arrived on time for our reservation and approached a flock of hosts and hostesses wearing headsets like bouncers at a nightclub, all pouring over a seating chart trying to figure out where to put everybody.  And fair enough– the place was slammed, especially for a Wednesday night.  After a rather strange conversation with one of the hostesses (“We have a reservation under Staite for 8 o’clock, please.”  “Oh! Okay!  Greenburg?”), we were asked to wait at the bar while our table was set up.  And wait we did– for half an hour.  Once a table became available in the lounge area, which was first come-first serve, we decided to snap it up and just get on with it already.

Our adorable and lovely server suggested a few things from the rather extensive menu, so on her suggestion we started with some crostini and scallops to share, and I chose an Albarino to drink, a classic and crisp white wine from Spain I happen to drink like it’s going out of style.  The crostini were great– tender and perfectly cooked shrimp with avocado, cilantro and tomato, mushroom with truffled artichoke and parmesan, and prosciutto with ricotta and fresh figs.  The scallops were equally delicious, seared beautifully on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside, served with more of that truffled artichoke and drizzled with a decadent helping of aged balsamic vinegar and white truffle olive oil.  (New drinking game: how many times can I say the words olive and oil in one blog?? Start your engines!) Bonus points for the complimentary olive oil– drink!– bread and tasting of three olive oils– drink!– for the table, because what’s better in life than bread and olive oil–omg drink–?

The Menu
Crostini
Scallops

Next up were our main courses.  Matt went with the New York strip steak which was deliciously charred and beautifully medium-rare, served with potatoes mashed in olive oil (keep it up), haricot vert, and another drizzle of olive oil, just for good measure.  I gotta tell ya– this steak was pretty darn perfect, and I was beginning to forget about that half an hour wait at the start of this affair.  My lovely and talented friend Celina (you’ll meet her soon) and I shared a lovely plate of penne with grilled mushrooms, parmesan and olive oil, as well as a gorgeous roasted branzino, glazed with a fig balsamic vinegar and served with even more figs on the side.  Fish and figs are madness, you say?  You stand corrected!  I don’t know if it was the balsamic vinegar tying everything together, but it was special and fantastic and interesting and clever… which means me and that dish have a lot in common.  Olive oil!

The only miss in this series of hits was a spaghetti mediterraneo, a bland bowl of noodles and shrimp dressed with a bit of garlic and cilantro that just didn’t belong on a menu full of such powerhouse ingredients and flavors.  But then our server brought us out another plate of those delectable scallops on the house, “just ’cause you guys are awesome!”, and that spaghetti was forgotten about faster than you can say olive oil.

the Steak
the Branzino
Scallops are hilarious!

We ended the meal with the tropezienne, a ridiculously gorgeous brioche sandwich filled with mascarpone cheese and served with a side of strawberries glazed with a meyer lemon syrup.  Yes, this was as good as it sounds.  Even without the olive oil.  (It’s just fun for me now.)

Dessert

In all, it was a pretty great evening… even when our server chased us down the street waving our bill in the air because she didn’t count the money we left her properly and thought we’d shafted her.  Adorable!  This place does have a few kinks to work out, as most new restaurants do, but it sure is pretty.  And let’s be honest: nobody likes the pretty girl who’s completely perfect on the inside too, anyway.  It’s annoying.  So the next time the mood strikes us to get all dolled up and mingle with West Hollywood’s in-crowd, will we be back?  You bet your brioche we will.

Fig & Olive

31 Comments Add yours

  1. azdisciplenc says:

    There’s enough room on Melrose Place for an 8,000 square foot restaurant?
    Hmmm. I guess I’ll have to go back to L.A. someday and try this place, because it actually sounds pretty good. Buuut… when you live in North Carolina and don’t work literally three minutes walk from Melrose & La Cienega anymore… it’s a little difficult.

  2. Shannon says:

    Sounds great, Jewel! Bet you wish she was chasing you down for an autograph though.

    I love your reviews, maybe someday you might go to Minneapolis then I would be in the vicinity to visit a restaurant you wrote about. Your reviews provide the humor I need when a new episode of “Chuck” is not available.

  3. Meg says:

    Hey Jewel,

    For what it’s worth, the fact that I don’t know you (on a personal level, that is – I know enough of your work to know that I like you as an actress) and you don’t know me may stand in the way of what I have to say. Disclaimer aside, I really enjoyed this blog post.

    I admit, this is the first post of yours I’ve read as time & forgetfulness often divert me from reading a lot of what I find on Twitter. You have, however, converted me. I think your straight-forward, down-to-earth perspective of the fine-dining experience is both witty and well-written, which is not an easy feat. I applaud you whole-heartedly.

    Having grown up with a father in the hospitality business (he spent several years managing high-end boutique restaurants in NYC) I have a lot of respect for those who recognize the high – and low – points of the industry. Your ability to balance the “admiring spectator” and “discerning critic” shows that you could have a future in restaurant reviews, should you decide to pursue it.

    So, in conclusion to this rambling comment by one of your many unnamed fans, keep up the fantastic work – both on and off-camera – and know that you’ve gained a loyal reader in me. I’m planning for a trip to LA in the autumn – I may be following your advice on where to eat!

    All the best,

    Meg

  4. Daniel says:

    Wait you have a husband? Well that ruins all my fantasies… 🙁

  5. Suzi says:

    I love the way you write Jewel! You def should be getting paid to do this! For this small town housewife/mom, I liked that you added the link to the place, which came with a menu with the prices. Thanks! I’m a horrible cook, and would just as soon eat fast food, but my daughter his introducing me to some wonderful foods that I’d never have dreamed I’d have liked…so this ‘good food’ concept intrigues me. heh.

  6. Wes says:

    For the next week or so, I think I’ll say “Greenburg” whenever I want to be incomprehensible.

    the new restaurants springing up across this planet

    Planet, you say? I hope that includes Austin. You’re way behind covering this market.

    And it’s not like I can trust Sandy Bullock.

  7. Pip says:

    Seriously, there is NO way to overstate, or mention, olive oil (the food of the Gods). Colavita is the spiciest oil I’ve found in regular stores. Awesome. I agree w/ the ‘drink’. *L*

  8. Maria says:

    Re the tank tops – did you watch ‘What not to wear’? That’s what did me in. So, yes, I wear only v-neck knit shirts (flattering and no ironing or dry cleaning!) and only a certain cut of trouser for work. Me, me, me and my OCD!

  9. Sounds like a great place. I’ll have to check it out the next time I venture out of Orange County!

  10. Gillian says:

    Yum yum yum. Another delicious post, good enough to eat!

  11. Robert Mejia says:

    What an excellent description of a great resturant by an even greater person. Love you jewel.

  12. erinamelia says:

    Ooh, thanks for the heads up on the Albarino! I’ll have to try some.

    Rec swap: If you’re ever looking for a great summer red my current passion is French Malbecs. (not the Argentinian ones. French Malbec, ideally Cahors AOC)

  13. Tallulah says:

    Olive oil.

  14. Vero says:

    Ironically, your blog posts inspire me to go to the gym. Just looking at those pictures is making me gain weight. (Hooray!)

  15. baldswede says:

    The desert kinda looks like a Swedish delicacy called Semla: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semla

  16. Pennyandrusty says:

    So I just had to ask… Is your husband allergic to shitake mushrooms or is it he just doesn’t like them in his lasagne?

  17. Steve says:

    Great writing as usual. 🙂
    Hope you visit London soon so us UK residents can get some tips on good eateries nearer to home. 😎

  18. slamaina says:

    I so wish I still lived in LA so I could try all these restaurants immediately. But this blog will definitely com in handy when I am visiting.

    My 7 year old daughter decided to take pictures of her meal and the kids menu so she could start posting a food blog for kids. Kids are so funny. The only kids that would follow her blog would be ones who like Kraft macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, or french fries because that is all she will order when we eat out (unless it is fast food). It’s not like she will vary off of those choices by getting say grill cheese on rye…

    Slam

  19. slamaina says:

    I am still updating that Google map I made with all the restaurants and bars you mention with links back to you reviews of them.

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=216099384609751152824.00049f5532a6a5dca7d57&ll=57.891497,-70.839844&spn=45.348388,173.144531&z=3

    or

    http://bit.ly/hUJ2Ln

    Slam

  20. Martin says:

    Great post, as usual. But (and this is a big butt,) what’s the deal with the disappearance of the Animal review and my getting repeated emails from this Animal place? Kinda freaking me out…

  21. Dangerboy says:

    Sounds fantastic. Also, the repetitive Olive Oil’s didn’t make me drunk, since I read this at work. It did, however, fill my brain with images of the Popeye cartoons. Skibby-de-bop-de-bo.

  22. Creseleg says:

    Hey Jewel it’s not much of a payment, but it’s all I can offer, you have my heartfelt thanks for all the enjoyment I get from reading each and every blog post of yours. I may not live anywhere near the area or ever get a chance to go to any of these restaurants but I can still enjoy reading of them!

  23. Patriettegirl says:

    I have to stop reading your blog before I eat breakfast, otherwise I will spend all day wishing that was going to be my dinner. You are an awesome writer, you should definitely be paid to do it.

  24. pinha says:

    Miss Staite, if you like the Spanish Albariño you should try the Portuguese one (Alvarinho) from the Monção region. Very good! 🙂

  25. Aaron says:

    Love reading your stuff Jewels, I get alot of cooking inspiration from the way food is used in California. And to think that people only used to fill their oil lamps with olive oil.
    keep on writing gorgeous lady, its good stuff your doing, although I’m also keeping my fingers crossed to see your in some more SiFi one day in the not to distant future.

    A big fan.. x

  26. John says:

    Sounds pretty darn tasty all around. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Sydney says:

    I’m thinking of trying olive oil on my oatmeal now.

  28. Mandie says:

    -hic- Olive -hic- oil.

  29. Harlan says:

    Mmmmm Olive Oil!

  30. Terry says:

    Hi Jewel,Well girl you have come a long way since I thought the best fish and chips I tasted was at Trolls in White Rock…….lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.