Dr. Boyfriend and I were trying to decide where to book a dinner reservation last week and saw that Fig & Olive has nearly 700 reviews on OpenTable, which is more than everything else we saw by a long shot. After going there on Friday night, I understand why.
The place is just plain meant to appeal to a lot of people. The menu is interesting but not adventurous, the prices are high enough to keep out the riffraff but low enough that you wouldn’t feel bad about taking a date here even knowing she wasn’t going to put out, the lighting is low, the furniture is plush, the service is neutral, and no one’s pretentious.
We both ordered from the prix fixe menu, which is your standard 3 courses for $36. Even after I added a $6 supplement for my filet mignon, I thought it was a great deal. Here’s what we feasted upon:
chicken samosa with cilantro, Greek yogurt, bell pepper, scallion, cumin, and harissa oil
Wikipedia tells me that phyllo dough is sometimes used for samosas in the West, so I’m refrain from calling this dish blasphemous, and even if it was too soft to be the kind of samosa I’m familiar with, it was delicious, and the only thing wrong with it was that there was only one. The harissa oil and yogurt combo was spicy-good that I had to use our leftover bread from the complimentary olive oils they served us to sop it up.
steak tartar of ground filet mignon and NY steak, shallot, caper, parsley, mayonnaise, olive oil toast
My boyfriend’s favorite part of this was the big caper berry on top, which I had never tasted before. I don’t care that much about capers, but caper berries are delightfully pickley.
grilled beef tenderloin, Herbs de Provence olive oil butter, fingerling potatoes, snow peas, onions
We were scheduled to go to a steak house the next night, but after I finished this filet, I said, “I’m not sure I can eat steak without butter now.” The little pat of herbed cow juice melted all over my meat, soaking into it and leaving the herbs behind on the seared exterior. The potatoes and peas were an afterthought, but it didn’t matter. Steak snobs would be aghast at the fact that the server didn’t ask how I wanted it cooked, but it came out perfectly medium, and I sort of like a chef who refuses to cook food anything but the right way.
grilled shrimp and scallop paella in pimentón (Spanish paprika), saffron rice, eggplant tapenade, bell pepper, tomato, garlic
My boyfriend didn’t much care for this paella, to be honest. It was definitely delicious–the paprika-sodden rice alone was mouthwatering–but he expects a paella to be full of all sorts of treasures for the unearthing. This was rice with a few vegetables and sea meats sprinkled on top. The flavors were there, but the portion and presentation were off.
berries pot de crème
This was a very creamy, slightly-vanilla custard with a blanket of strawberries and blueberries cooked down to their sweetest point. A chunk of very crusty cake accompanied it and made for a nice texture addition.
dessert crostini with blueberries mascarpone on shortbread with microbasil
Dr. Boyfriend’s dessert looked a little too simple to me, frankly, and I was secretly glad that I’d been the one to get the pot de crème at first. But simple as it was, it was special. The creamy cheese with the crumbly bread, the syrupy-sweet berries with the savory basil? YUM.
Overall, I wouldn’t say Fig & Olive is a place I’d send my pickiest foodie friends, but it’s great for casual dates, meeting with friends (as nearly everyone there seemed to be doing), and having steak covered in butter. Not a place you’d go if you only had a weekend in NYC but a place you’d go to take a break from the formality of more-expensive restaurants.
Fig & Olive
10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022 (map)
420 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10014 (map)
808 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10021 (map)