Sunday, April 26, 2009

FIG

We had a perfect table at FIG last night - center of the patio section over looking the pool with the fire pits beyond, out to a peek of the Santa Monica mountains. We sat down at 7pm prepared to enjoy a beautiful sunset and, hopefully, a good dinner. In the food we were not to be disappointed but, first, a word about the space itself. Meh.

Other reviews have described it as cozy. I don't agree. I understand what they are going for; casual, white walls with a brush of pink in the long banquet, a tiny bit funky (a collection of mirrors over the bar, mixed rather than matching lighting fixtures) but while nothing is really wrong, the space isn't especially comfortable. Dark but not warm lighting and too many hard surfaces. There are no cloths on the too small tables, no cushions on the chairs. It was cold. I was cold in long sleeves. I didn't want to linger. It's unfortunate that FIG doesn't do a brunch service because it would be a great place during the middle of the day with the patio doors opened and the sun streaming in across the pool. Right now it's dinner only Tuesday - Saturday 5-10 SEE UPDATE BELOW

I am loving the still fresh take on cocktails that has been going on all over town for a while - fresh fruit or herbs that are blended ( or smashed or pureed or, my favorite, muddled ) into new or traditional drinks. I started with an Elderflower Royal, FIG's take on a traditional Kir with smashed purple elderflowers floating throughout. It was delicious if a bit messy, I had to throw my head back to finish the second half of the glass because the berries kept getting on my nose. A vodka cocktail had rhubarb in it and I was tempted to try one but two cocktails and I would have been unable to really taste the food. That would have been a shame.

I started with the blistered "little gem" romaine hearts and ordered a fresh goat cheese with lavender honey for the table. Both were terrific, the seared, soft bitterness of the romaine offering a wonderfully original taste. The light, almost fluffy texture of the goat cheese paired well with the not too sweet honey but I was glad to have the baguette offered in place of a bread basket for the table because the cheese didn't come with anything to spread it on. A few crackers, perhaps with a hint of black pepper, would have been a nice addition. One of my companions had the roasted tomato soup which he enjoyed and my husband had the pacific mussels, beautifully presented in a lidded pot and swimming in a white wine and tarragon broth. He said they may have been the best mussels he's ever had.

Two at our table ordered steak frites, one the bavette and the other the entrecote. Both were flavorful, well cooked and he who opted for the peppercorn sauce was pleased. The fries were delicious if a bit heavy on the herbs. I had the vegetable risotto which was really nice - a gorgeous beet-stained red with lovely little red, orange, and white carrots and the perfect amount of creme fraiche, placed along the sides of the bowl rather than smack-dap on top so you don't have to blend it in if you don't want to.

We split three desserts; the FIG bars, too fresh from the oven for their own good as they fell apart when handled. The accompanying Greek yogurt ice cream was a disappointment, full of tiny ice crystals. The Meyer Lemon Tart on Raspberry Meringue was fine. The Chocolate Pot Au Creme was amazing. AMAZING. When I die and if, as I'm pretty much counting on, the afterlife is one long dessert station, here's where you'll find me - floating forever in eternity between the Butterscotch Budino from Mozza and the Chocolate Pot Au Creme from FIG.

As mentioned, the tables are small. When they brought our plates, they whisked away the arugula spread to make room for everything else. Don't let them do this to you, it's yummy.

Service was good. Dinner for 4 with 3 cocktails, 1 bottle of wine ($75), 3 other glasses of wine, 3 desserts and 2 cappuccinos was $410 with tax and tip.

FIG: in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel 101 Wilshire Blvd at the corner of Ocean Blvd, Santa Monica www.figsantamonica.com

UPDATE - I am happy to report that FIG is now serving Breakfast from 7 - 11, Lunch 11-2 and Sunday Brunch from 11-2

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