I’ve been trying to go to Fig & Olive for the last two weeks, but scheduling conflicts with my planned eating partner kept us from keeping any plans we made. As the adage says, “What does God do when you make plans?” The answer is “She laughs.” When the latest plans to lunch did not work out, I decided to go alone and take advantage of the Dine LA lunch menu for $28. Since the prix fixe menu was the same price as the bouillabaise alone, it made no sense to order a la carte.

The entrance is spacious and open with natural light streaming in from the skylights, making it feel as if you are in an enclosed outdoor patio. There are selections of olive oils from around the world and aged balsamic vinegar with different infusions available for sale at very reasonable prices. A bottle of 18 year old balsamic was $16 for 16.9 ounces, so at about a dollar an ounce, it’s a good deal. If you can’t come in for a meal, or simply want to make your own, you can order their products online.

The welcome basket of rosemary focaccia included olive oil selections from Australia, California, and Tunisia, and flavors ranging from fruity to herbaceous. My favorite was the Manzanillo  (the one on the right), the light and fruity one from California.

For my appetizer, I ordered the beef carpaccio, made with filet mignon, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, baby arugula, tomato, parmesan, and truffle olive oil. It was a magnificent version of this classic dish. The aged balsamic and the truffle olive oil added depth and complexity to this simple dish; I could have easily eaten two or three of these as my main course.

For my main course, I chose the trio de la mer bouillabaisse, made with grilled scallop, lemon sole, striped bass, shaved fennel, garlic infused olive oil, and served with a saffron aioli and olive oil crackers. Having eaten this dish in the South of France, I was a bit skeptical of whether a restaurant in Los Angeles could accomplish a decent, much less great version. I applaud the chef for this dish, the soup was fragrant with flavors of the sea, garlic, and fennel. There was a slight kitchen misstep with the striped bass and scallop; both arrived sushi style (raw) and I had to have them cook both pieces again. The waitress and manager were both very apologetic and immediately fixed the problem, going so far as to bring out another serving of the soup in addition to my two undercooked pieces.

The saffron aioli was spectacular. A small bit of it went a long way to enhance the flavor of the soup. Spreading it on the olive oil cracker before dunking it in the bowl made it a mouth watering highlight. It was so addictive that I ended up dipping the foccacia into it also!   

For my dessert, I wanted to try the “crostini” made with Amarena cherries, marscarpone, and pistachios on shortbread served on a plate of micro basil. The tart candied cherries, creamy mascarpone, and crunchy pistachios worked well together. I could have eaten the shortbread on its own, but the topping made this a decadent dessert for a non dessert eater like me.

A fine meal at Fig & Olive, to be repeated as soon as I can coordinate my schedule with someone else!
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