Light filters through the silvery leaves of an olive tree, warming the rosemary underneath and releasing its resinous scent. This pastoral scene may originate in the South of France, but you can also find it in Fig & Olive’s dining room, where chef Pascal Lorange’s dishes are served in the delicate shade of a real olive tree. Today’s Reserve selection invites you to taste the difference artisanal olive oil can make with a four-course dinner for two or four on Sunday–Friday. Dinner includes the following selections from the menu:
Dinner for two:
- Three crostini
- Two appetizers or salads
- Two entrees
- One dessert
- Two glasses of house wine or two signature cocktails<p>
Dinner for four:
- Six crostini
- Four appetizers or salads
- Four entrees
- Two desserts
- One select bottle of wine or four Fig & Olive signature cocktails<p>
Meals revolve around the kitchen’s library of over 30 kinds of extra-virgin olive oil. The olive oil in the recipes helps “emphasize each flavor,” says marketing director Ludovic Barras, and preserves the freshness of the locally sourced ingredients. For each entree, Executive Chef Lorange finds an appropriately fruity, peppery, or buttery olive oil to match. That means that the lamb chop’s infused oil is wholly different from that of the grilled branzino, an astringent Koroneiki variety that offsets a fig and aged-balsamic glaze.
Even the dessert menu draws on this Mediterranean nectar—it has to, since the kitchen uses no butter or other heavy fats. The sweetness of the crème-brûlée cheesecake, for instance, contrasts with the aromatic flavors of olive-oil crisp, thyme, and macerated fig. About the only place olive-oil doesn’t show up is the cocktail list, although there is a dirty martini with house-cured olives among fresh, fruity renditions of cosmopolitans, mojitos, and juleps.
The team at Fig & Olive works hard to evoke the Mediterranean, but it has a little assistance—in fact, as Barras notes, Southern California and the South of France share a light-filled, coastal climate that makes the restaurant’s concept a natural transplant. To help the ambiance take deeper root, decorators have added terra-cotta accents, thriving rosemary bushes, and wrought-iron olive branches to the dining room’s living centerpiece. Casual divan-style seating and a 50-foot communal table create a laid-back dinner atmosphere—says Barras, “there’s no pressure to feel like it’s going to be too formal.” The flexible atmosphere has attracted a host of high-profile events and celebrity sightings, including a fundraiser for President Obama, private dinners for Robert Downey, Jr., and Amanda Seyfried, and appearances in The Hangover 3 and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Fig & Olive - Melrose Place
Each meal at Fig & Olive begins with a tasting, but it's not the kind you might expect. Servers deliver three kinds of olive oil to the table, which guests sample by snacking on freshly baked bread.
This olive-oil trio is but a small selection from a vast library: Fig & Olive sells more than 30 varieties, and displays them at the entrance of every restaurant location. What's more, olive oil is incorporated into almost every Mediterranean-inspired dish on the menu. For example:
Mediterranean branzino: a delicately flavored fish glazed with fig and 18-year-old balsamic vinegar, paired with olive oil mashed potato. It's served tableside and finished with Koroneiki olive oil—a good match because of its herbaceous flavor.
Veal milanese: breaded veal escalopine, roasted tomato, and garlic-sautéed broccolini adorn pesto fettucine, served with tomato mascarpone sauce.
Caramelized cheesecake: a decadent dessert made with caramelized peaches from Scholl Orchards. Even this dish benefits from olive oil, this time in the form of a crisp on top.
These creations are the brainchildren of founder Laurent Halasz and his distinguished kitchen team. It was Halasz's upbringing in southern France that imbued him with a knack for Mediterranean cooking and a passion for olive oil's many subtleties. To better emulate the feel of his home region, he's decorated Fig & Olive with coastal touches, including natural limestone and white stucco walls out in the open-air garden terrace.