Fig & Olive Restaurant: The Bottom Line
Located on the beautiful, charming Melrose Place, this chic split-level restaurant features cuisine from the French and Italian Rivieras and Spain--with an emphasis on olive oil. Hand-selected ingredients make up the delicious dishes, which are served up in a fashionable 'private club' atmosphere.
Fig & Olive History and Location
Frequent travelers and bi-coastal Angelinos may recognize the name Fig & Olive, as the restaurant has its roots in New York (with three locations in Manhattan and one in Westchester).
The LA branch of Fig & Olive, launched in 2011 by founder Laurent Halasz, is not only its West Coast flagship, but is also housed in a rather unique location.
Situated on the corner of La Cienega and exclusive Melrose Place (my favorite street in Los Angeles), Fig & Olive is housed in a massive 8,000 square foot split-level structure. The decor and ambiance is sophisticated, open and airy, and has the feel of a European private members club.
Upon entry into the eatery, you are faced with a casual, communal dining area to the right, and the main dining room to the left. In the back, there is a glass-encased dining space which can be reserved for special events. On the restaurant's opening night, for instance, the enclosed dining room became the VIP area, and was filled with diplomats and big whigs. In a similar vein, President Obama rented out the entire restaurant for his fundraising efforts when he was in town in 2011.
The upstairs section of Fig & Olive has a lounge sensibility and seems ideal for intimate date nights. It's perfect for sharing that bottle of Alto Moncayo Garnacha Veraton from Spain, while enjoying the theatrical overlook of the main dining room.
Cuisine at Fig & Olive
Fig & Olive's menu is completely in-line with my own eating philosophy. It is at once healthy (all butter is substituted with olive oil--which they also sell on-site) and gourmand.
My all-time favorite appetizer can be found in the Carpaccio section of their menu: the simple but heavenly beef carpaccio made of filet mignon, served in 18-year-old balsamic vinegar, and accompanied by baby arugula, tomato, parmesan, and doused in the proverbial 'cherry on top': truffle olive oil.
If you've ever been the French Riviera and had a seafood salad (and wished you could take it home with you), you'll want to sample their Riviera salad of tiger shrimp, salmon ceviche marinated with fresh cilantro, citrus and olive oil, arugula, shaved fennel avocado, tomato, and scallion warm toast with ricotta, in citrus and cilantro olive oil dressing.
Other classic Southern French dishes include the North African inspired Fig & Olive Tajine, and grilled steak skewers and couscous.
A dish I would highly recommend with exclamation marks is the striped bass papillote whose ingredients are zucchini, eggplant, fennel, tomato, thyme, scallion, and saffron served with olive oil mashed potato and chives.
As you might imagine, Fig & Olive is a foodie Valhalla. As its name implies, it's committed to teaching Angelinos about the flavorful joys and health benefits of olive oil. One look at their menu tells that story; listed next to each dish is the exact type of olive oil it has been cooked in.
The fabulous menu was designed by Executive Chef Pascal Lorange, who is a native of the Southern French region of Mougins (also home to the Les Étoiles de Mougins food festival). Take it from someone who is obsessed with Mediterranean food and has been to Mougins; Lorange leaves no stone unturned in his presentation of his regional cuisine to Angelinos.
However, don't just take it from me. Ask Julio Iglesias, for whom Lorange served as a private chef. He also delighted the palates of dignitaries like Bill Clinton and Princess Stephanie of Monaco.
Lorange's aim: to bring "...refined and authentic, yet uncomplicated flavors to our guests—-giving them a taste of some of the best cuisine from one of the most beautiful region of of the world: the Rivieras of the Mediterranean." He achieves this by traveling, creating and discovering top ingredients and producers.
His words and the whole philosophy of Fig & Olive make it my favorite new restaurant in LA, as it espouses all of my own aesthetic and culinary passions.
There are so many restaurants in LA that do Italian and French food well but still fail to excel beyond our local standards, extending onto an international sphere. Fig & Olive is one of the rare few that does so elegantly while making all the hard work seem effortless.
Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Place
Los Angeles, CA 90069