Fig and Olive – The Whole Shebang

What’s the last time that you ordered everything off the menu? That you just gave into all of your gustatory whims with reckless abandon and tried every damn thing that struck your fancy?
The last time I did that was at brunch at Fig and Olive.
 The casually upscale mini chain, with several NYC outposts, features a Mediterranean menu with a plethora of appetizers, main courses and tasting plates.
 The large Meatpacking branch of the restaurant was elegantly decorated, classic and inviting enough for bunch with my parents but also classy enough for drinks with a coworker.
 Bread Basket
This really should come gratis to every table. When you are at a nice restaurant, you should just get a basket of bread. I’m not asking for a slab of pate or an escargot amuse bouche, but a nicely made loaf of sourdough? That isn’t asking too much. 
 This was certainly a delicious bread basket, with crusty French bread, tangy country bread and crispy-doughy croissants among other tasty treats. The sweet whipped butter, tangy marmalade and homemade fig spread were tasty as well, but to charge for a bread basket at brunch? That was a little pretentious. I mean, they know all brunch customers are hungover. They KNOW we need carbs, stat!
 Every Crostini on the Menu
That’s right. My father and I decided to share every crostini on the menu. Soft prosciutto, tangy yogurt, nutty cheeses and a plethora of other ingredients topped these crunchy breads. Though they were all delicious – really, every SINGLE one was fresh, vibrant and light – there were a few standouts:
Crab, Avocado, Cilantro, Pine Nuts – the most fragrant, intoxicating crab I have had in recent memories. Crab is so often sweet, but here it was earthy and savory. A heavy hand with garlic and cilantro grounded the crab, making it meaty and breaking up its inherent richness. The avocado echoed the buttery texture of the crab while adding a decadent, fatty texture. It was perhaps my favorite crostini.
Crushed Tomato and Olive Oil – everything I hoped the Pan con Tomate at Socarrat Paella Bar would embody. The crisp crostini was rubbed with a garlic clove, it’s pungent taste mingling with the wheaty bread and the sweet, acidic tomatoes. The olive oil mellowed the strong flavors of the garlic and the brightness of the tomatoes – it was an entirely cohesive dish. 
Roasted Bell Pepper, Ricotta, Capers – the bell peppers were heavy with sweetness, velvety and thick. The capers added bursts of salt and the ricotta enveloped the whole dish with its mild sweetness. The strength of all the ingredients worked well, playing off each other. 
Salmon, Ricotta, Citrus, Cilantro – I would NEVER have put these ingredients together, but hey worked so well! The salmon was done ceviche style – cured with lime and lemon, so the outside was barely “cooked”, adding a slight snap to the bite outside the silky, decadently fatty fish within. The predominant tastes here are sour and fragrant, with the cilantro providing a grassy, spicy punch. The ricotta acts as a backdrop, not as greasy or rich as mayonnaise, but creamy enough to temper the citrus. This was out of this world. 
Every Single Ceviche and Tartare on the Menu
I love ceviche – fish that is “cooked” by marinating it in lime juice until the fish’s flesh is cooked on the outside and still incredibly rare within. It is Peruvian in origins, but here there is a decidedly Mediterranean flare. Tartare is just something served raw. Two of the ceviches/tartare – the salmon and the crab – made an appearance on the crostinis, and were huge hits. The other two were:
Sesame Tuna Tartare with Chive, Shallot and Cucumber – this was the most Asian influenced dish of those that we tried, and while it was good, it was not outstanding. The tuna was fresh and tender, but not mushy, well accented by biting shallots, mild cucumber and salty soy. Unfortunately, the sesame flavor was not prebalent enough, and the dish felt a bit one dimensional – all bite and salt, with no lush or nutty notes. It was good, but not a must order. 
Branzino Lemon Ceviche with Red Onoin, Tomato, Fennel and Dill – the BEST dish on the table – and, as you see, we ordered quite a few dishes. The branzino, cut into large but not unwieldy slices, was saturated with the fresh taste of lemon, verdant dill, pungent red onion and sweet fennel. The branzino itself was tender and pleasantly salty – it tasted incredibly fresh and bright. The tomatoes were added in right before we got the dish, so it was not mushy or mealy. The fennel added a crunchy texture and the marinade itself was so fresh and mouthwatering that I was spooning it into my mouth like soup. This was remarkable. 
The whole brunch was pretty remarkable. The ambiance was lovely, the prices were fair and the food was inventive and flavorful. Plus, I got to fulfil my lifelong dream of ordering everything off at least one section of the menu.
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  1. I remember eating at a restaurant on the Upper East Side a few years back and wanting to share dessert with my friend. The waiter haughtily explained that we could share the same spoon and there would be no extra charge, but if I wanted my own spoon it would be a six dollar charge. (This was after our party of five had five entrees and three bottles of wine; our bill was already very high.)

    So charging you for bread at brunch is lame, but not the least bit surprising to me.

  2. Only you (or I) would order every single menu item. LOVE!