Hi. Donna Monaco Olsen here. Nine friends decided to give this popular restaurant a try on a Monday night.
FIG & OLIVE overall is an interesting restaurant in the middle of “triple A” tenants row, including The Gap, and Lord & Taylor in Scarsdale. The space most recently was a Smith & Hawkin and is in the shopping center of the old Alex & Henry’s.
The outside is both sleek and attractive. We were asked to wait in the front area in a comfy spot where patrons were munching on several interesting crostini offerings and olives with a glass of wine. The area is comprised of cushioned couches and chairs with large glass windows, enabling you to look for a friend scurrying in from the cold.
The atmosphere was “chic Manhattan” (as they have other locations in the city), with seemingly endless floor to ceiling shelves of wine bottles, representing hues of light green, pink and burgundy accenting the rest of the color palette within.
(Fig & Olive photo)
As we were a large party, we were seated at one of the three fifteen foot counter-like tables that they have dubbed “the tasting bar and communal table” with high backed stools. Given the choice, a table would be preferred if we were a smaller group but it did give us the vantage point to see the action taking place in the kitchen. The restaurant was humming for a Monday night and the kitchen although very busy was cleverly hidden by an open wall comprised of tall thin olive oil bottles. The display was beautiful in its simplicity and very effective in disguising the hubbub of the kitchen.
FIG & OLIVE’s culture is touted as cuisine from the Mediterranean region. Some of the menu reflects this but we found it in many ways to also touch on Asian and Indian influences almost in fusion. The freshly baked Olive Oil Fougasse bread was infused with rosemary. It was served with a trio of olive oils, which we later learned were three different types of oil. We did not detect the differences, although they were all very good olive oil offerings.
Out of the nine of us dining on this occasion, only two of the HVRW offerings were not chosen. We did spy them whizzing by and they were nicely plated. These were the Tuna Tartar appetizer and the Grilled Lamb skewers entree. We were informed that all soups are vegan in preparation as they do not use dairy, making for light tasting soups.
All three offerings were enjoyed; Carrot & Thyme, Italian Mushroom and Spanish Lentil (not Vegan as it contains spicy Chorizo). Hands down one of our favorites for the night was a beautifully displayed Zucchini Carpaccio.
The round thin slices were plated raw lining a rectangular plate, then drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, and shaved parmesan. It was so refreshing all in a clean, sleek presentation. I made some at home the next evening as I was wishing for the taste of springtime again.
The Chicken Samosa was also a favored dish although we found it to touch on Indian flavorings rather than Mediterranean. It had an interesting topping that none of us had seen before, dry chili threads. In all a nice presentation of two samosa atop yogurt infused with cilantro and a Harissa olive oil. The appetizers were the star of the show and maybe this is indicative of the small sharing-plates philosophy.
The wine list includes over thirty varieties from several regions in Europe and is offered by the glass. Some of our guests partook in a glass or two but all agreed that for a “small pour” a bit pricey at $14 a glass. An offering in line with the restaurant week program would have been welcomed.
Many of us enjoyed the Grilled Branzino glazed with a Fig and Balsamic vinegar. We found the pairing of snow pea pods to be an odd vegetable choice as it evoked an Asian twist. We would have welcomed a starch such as farro as there were only three small pieces of fish, a stewed fig and a few pea pods but the taste was very appealing.
Several chose the Shrimp & Scallop Paella marinated with pimento and served on saffron rice, eggplant tapenade, bell pepper, tomato, garlic.
All finished their plate and wished for more rice as the accompaniments were the dominant flavors.
Not the favored dish among these diners was the Grilled Truffle Chicken Paillard. It was a bit dry although the taste of the marinade was good. It was served with a truffle mashed potato that was somewhat grey in color due to the truffles. It was a strong woodsy flavor and most left this along with the undercooked leek confit.
One of the hits at the table, although a bit salty, was the Penne Funghi Tartufo comprised of mini Cremini mushrooms, parmesan, black truffle paste, fresh parsley and an abundance of scallions.
Again, the scallions confused us into being more of an Asian ingredient but were an interesting element to the dish. Only one of us ordered this but it was passed for all to try as it was a more generous portion.
Both desserts were beautifully plated and a mildly sweet ending to dinner. The Chocolate Pot De Crème with a Crunchy praline, a fudge-like mini square served with vanilla cream was the more decadent dessert choice.
It was denser then a mousse but similar in taste. The favored sweet offering of the two was the Crostini of Amarena cherry, mascarpone, pistachio nuts, on shortbread with micro-basil.
The cherries were sour-sweet and delicious. Although attractively placed atop the crostini in decor we found the micro basil to be not enough of the punch we were looking for to read as basil flavor. On the regular menu is a dessert crafted by Pastry Chef Andrew LeStourgeon. It is a warm Marzipan Cake served with an Olive Oil Gelato. This alone calls me back to this wonderfully refreshing spot as it sounds amazing.
As this restaurant has recently opened in this location, Westchester commends them for joining in the fabulous HVRW program so soon after launching. The wait staff is in constant motion and mentioned that currently they are booked with reservations 5 weeks out on the weekends. Give it a try if you can get in!
The 411 on Fig & Olive is coming. Til then: Vernon Hills Shopping Center, 696 White Plains Road, Scarsdale 914 725 2900, figandolive.com