The ambiance trumps what’s on the plate. The food lacks flavor, but you’re guaranteed to savor with your eyes what your stomach may lack. However, I can’t think of any scenario that would spark my interest to go back here.
What to order
Anything dipped in olive oil, or perhaps a resit. I, personally, refuse to go here again.
Sunday brunch is a tradition to be shared among family and friends. And while my family and I opted to test out Fig & Olive in D.C., we would have served ourselves well sticking with my old favorite, Blue Duck Tavern, for a better bang for my buck … and for the bottom of my stomach and conscious (the food, aptly sourced, and ambiance at Blue Duck are far superior).
Money Score: Needs Improvement
My dad couldn’t get over paying $14 for a plate full of raw zucchini drizzled with olive oil. And he was right; although they were sliced ultra-thin, almost see-through, carpaccio-like, the price was rather steep. Everything else didn’t seem overkill, yet still, nothing was spectacular here. And a miniscule salmon filet for almost 30 bucks? Next.
Consciousness Score: Needs Improvement
Indescript. Inspired by the dreamy region of Provence in southern France, a crossroads for cultures and olive-oil forward cuisine, Fig & Olive’s story claims to be modern romance to the Mediterranean diet using the “freshest and simplest ingredients to feed the body and mind.”
And as Fig & Olive has locations sprouting across the U.S., they’re steering a little too close to most chain restaurant downfalls. I’m not saying they’re Olive Garden, but they certainly aren’t valorizing the price of their plates through sourcing (no info in sight). Also, Food & Wine caught them sourcing from a freezer a few years back. In case that doesn’t make you think about booking an alternative …
‘All the Feels’ Score: OK
What it lacked in taste, Fig & Olive made up for in aesthetics. The 10,000-square-foot-dining room feels like you’ve stepped into the land of lavender fields just north of the French Riviera. On floor one, an expansive lounge, crostini station and bar. On the upper level, a more formal, private dining room. In spring and summer, an alfresco dining space. The space is super-Instagram friendly with white-topped tables and plates and lots of light. The food, while nothing special on the palate, is certainly pretty to look at. And the waiter must be used to people taking pictures of the food, as she took time to allow my staging set up and tear down (she even brought out a tray!) without raising an eyebrow.
For starters, the Burrata Heirloom Beet ($17) with red apple, radicchio di Treviso, hazelnut and apple cider dressing was exquisitely refreshing, even on a cold day. The crunchy texture of the apple, hazelnut, and radicchio balanced out the creamy, cloud-like burrata and sweet meatiness of the richly colored red-and-yellow beets. Good, but not return-worthy.
A vegetarian-friendly take on beef carpaccio, the Zucchini Carpaccio with lemon, parmesan and pine nut is steep at $14 for raw courgette I could have sliced with my own spiralizer and then thrown parmesan on top myself.
Delicious yet unpredictable, the mushrooms weren’t the dominant ingredient in the Mushroom Croquette ($15) with truffle aioli and parmesan. While not mushroomy as predicted, they were gooey cubes of fried goodness. But they were slightly fragile, almost like cracking the top of a macaron to bite into the airy center, only these fell apart.
The crostini station is one of the star features at Fig & Olive, so naturally, we had to order the Signature Crostini (three for $13). We opted for the goat cheese with caramelized onion and lime on chives on top, which was topped with a marmalade far too sweet for my liking. The burrata (cream-filled cheese and a one-way trip to the cardiologist), tomato, pesto and balsamic one was almost too generous (heaping cheese!)–but really, what’s not to love about that? The one topped with shrimp, avocado, and thinly sliced red-and-green tomatoes was by far the best, but I wasn’t over the moon.
The Paella del Mar ($32) with saffron rice, scallops, black tiger shrimp, calamari, and mussels was over-the-top smoky. While attractive on camera, the shriveled clams and lack of balance couldn’t negate the disregard for harmony in this plate.
The Riviera Salmon ($29) was by far the biggest disappointment. The salmon was tiny. Moreover, the skin was far from flaky. It was served with roasted cauliflower, swiss chard, and piquillo olive caper tapenade. Bleh.
The tasteless Riviera Salmon Burger ($18) comes topped with tomato, avocado, dill-and-caper mayo, mixed greens with fig and balsamic dressing, and “skinny fries.” Truffle Fries (served as a side for an extra $3) with parmesan are solely available on the brunch menu.
For what may lack in the main plates, at least you’ll have an array of olive oils to drizzle it with.
Overall: Needs Improvement
Fig & Olive’s food could certainly stand to improve. It’s not a spot I’m dying to take my friends. There are far better places to pay for overpriced food. If I gave them an OK it would be a slap in the face to other “just OK” restaurants, like Post Coffee, which have vastly higher standards.
CUISINESeasonal Mediterranean fare; flavored olive oils