I make plans to meet Charity in the meatpacking district. Remembering that Paradou is close, my foie sense starts tingling. Might be time to give that homemade foie tasting a second chance.
Hmmm, but isn’t Charity just coming off a raw diet? Does she really want to sit across a thoughtless mook with five choices of foie at his disposal?
Referencing a Google Map of go-to restaurants I’ve maintained for years, nothing fit the bill. Then I did what you’d do; I Yelped, OpenTabled, and MenuPaged my way to Fig & Olive.
With expectations low, I rode the F to the C and walked west into the frigid wind on 13th street. Not the most welcoming of hoods on a 17 degree night in February.
Charity is woefully under-dressed for the weather – enjoying a sneaky cigarette outside in a denim skirt. At 5:30, Fig & Olive is relatively empty, which is cool with me. I’m a hipster, not a scenester. Big place, lots of seats, sprawled out, beautifully lit with some light refracted through a wall of olive oil bottles.
“So, Char; anything you say tonight may be used in my new blog,” I say.
“No it won’t,” she smiles.
Charity spots an acquaintance, and while the two ladies chat I read through the menu. Crostinos look good. Maybe the truffle risotto.
“Sparking, mineral or…”
“Tap is fine,” I say, and make my usual mental note to one day lithograph that phrase onto a shirt. Then I’m wondering should I get a drink? Hmmm.
“Would you like any wine, or anything else to drink tonight?”
“No, we’re good, thanks.”
I take the temperature of the moment and it’s clear Charity is outmatched by me in the “I can eat way too many appetizers” department. I’m gonna have to rejigger my overall over-eating plan, maybe even make some fishy concessions.
But first, some soft bread with a selection of olive oils – one smokier than the next. I’m a sucker for that kind stuff. One of those olive oils had a nice kick.
“Would you like any wine, or anything to drink tonight?” asks another server, again.
“No, we’re still good, thanks,” I say, thinking maybe I could use a drink.
The waitress realizes we have lunch menus, replaces them and we start again. Charity is thinking salmon, but we are convinced to share the bronzino. I had a good bronzino experience at Brucie a year ago, so what the hell.
The apps hit the table. Tasty half-dollar sized crab cakes with nice hints of horseradish on a paprika aoli. An above average aoili, for sure, maybe not the kind of magic aoli you find at a place like Traif in Williamsburg.
The truffle mushroom croquettes were the belle of the ball – visually like tiny (and I mean tiny) tator tots but packed full of flavor. Cremini mushroom, parmesan, truffle oil, a little crunch, soft on the inside. I can imagine they’d follow a few martinis like a champion. Maybe I should have a drink.
“We should order seven more of these,” I say.
“Can you look away while I lick that plate?” she asks.
We’re introduced to the roasted bronzino and it’s filleted just behind me. It was a bad angle – I couldn’t really watch. It only just occurs to me that I should have tried harder, maybe even taken a picture. Not one picture the entire night. I stole that pic above from the Fig & Olive website. I’m failing at food blogging already.
Plated, it’s a pretty standard fish fillet in lemon sauce with Koroneiki olive oil. Near perfectly cooked, I’d say. And they split the tiny cheeks between us.
“Just be careful of the bones in that cheek,” the carver suggests. “And here are your sides; olive oil chive mashed potatoes, and roasted beets with caramelized onion and almond. Bon Appétit.”
Charity seemed to dig the bronzino. I think she said it was perfect. Mine is good, but I’m not a connoisseur (why are you writing a food blog?). It was a touch olive-oily but that’s their thing here. It’s a whitefish, so none too offensive to my unsophisticated palate. The crispy skin was nice. And yeah, eventually I’m picking tiny translucent cheek bones from my teeth. Smexy.
The olive oil mashed potatoes look like chives suspended in play-dough. Tasted better than that. They’d be an appropriate side for a decadent picnic charcuterie but I can’t help comparing all mashed potatoes to Joel Robuchon’s. I may never love another.
The beets were pretty good. I like beets more and more as I get older. What the hell is that about? Simple preparation here and some nice olive oil involved.
“You ever notice how weird the word calm is?” Charity asks, then repeats “Calm.”
“Calm,” I say.
“Calm,” she says, stressing the L.
“Calm,” I repeat. “Calm.”
She gives me that “you made me eat too much” look I’m so accustomed to getting from tablemates just as the dessert menu arrives. It’s obvious we’re both full, so I order the four piece dessert sampler.
And how adorable they are; a dessert crostini, chocolate pot de crème, crunchy praline and a raspberry sorbet. Dessert was certainly a highlight, specifically that crostini. Amarena cherries and mascarpone on pistachio shortbread with micro basil? Just take my money.
“Thanks for forcing me to eat that,” Charity said.
The crunchy praline was infinitesimal but tasty. I’ve had better chocolate pot de crème, I must say, but the raspberry sorbet was sweet and surprising.
I usually judge a restaurant on whether I’d go back – and while I wouldn’t rush back, I certainly leave curious about what their savory crostinos might be like. And maybe that truffle risotto. And nine more plates of those truffle mushroom croquettes.
Only next time I’m having a few drinks.