10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 319-2002

Fig & Olive sits centered at the crossroads of between the midtown corporate district and the midtown hotel district, perfectly located to grab both sets of people looking to spend money, but maybe not go nuts about it. (There are two other locations in NYC, both also in midtown, also located to grab the same clientele.) Since I work in midtown and had relatives coming into town for a few days. This seemed like the perfect place to meet.

Fig & Olive could probably be put in the "Mediterranean Fusion" category, if such a category existed. Think of it as a random assortment of all that is Mediterranean but with a modern twist. Their theme, if one could call it a theme since it's really more of a gimmick, is that they use olive oil in everything that they make. This isn't quite the feat it might appear since I'm pretty sure that all Mediterranean food is required by law to use olive oil in one way or another. Hell, at L'arte de Gelato I've had olive oil gelato (fantastic) and the ancient Romans used olive oil instead of soap. Olive oil is a far from rare ingredient in the cultures surrounding that body of water. The real trick would have been to use figs in every dish. But I digress.

Fig & Olive is two large floors and it needs all the space it can get if the day we ate there is any indication. This particular Thursday they were packing them in, though they had thinned out by the time we had all left. The customers were from a healthy variety across the age spectrum; groups (plural) of 20-something girls, families with little kids, elderly couples. I went with the 'Rents, no spring chickens, one of my cousins and my aunt. An electronica-thumping party zone restaurant like the Spice near Union Square would not have been their cup of tea.

The prix-fix menu was what we all - except my aunt - ordered from. It came with an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. Since all of the prix-fix dinners were from the regular menu anyway, it made the most sense, financialy. At $38 per person, you basically get dessert free.

My appetizer was the Beef Carpaccio, very thinly sliced raw beef. Fig & Olive drizzled it with a thick balsamic reduction and covered it in shaved Parmesan. Carpaccio is a very light flavor and the bite of the vinegar coupled with the bitterness of the cheese meant that most of its flavor was bullied out of the room. This will disappoint many, however, if you're like Shrink and find the concept of eating uncooked meat troubling, you may prefer it this way. I'd have them halve the toppings though. Shrink ordered the Mediterranean Chicken Samosas. If there was any concern that this would be a spicy dish, one bite put that concern to bed. Mellow versions of Mediterranean food, served with artistic flair is the name of the game at Fig & Olive. So the samosas, while actually very good, were also extremely light. The only way that they could burn your mouth is if you lit them on fire. Dudeman and my cousin ordered soup. She ordered the Provincial Carrot and Thyme Soup, which I did not try but which she said was good and not over-carroty. He got the Northern Italian Mushroom and Truffle Soup, which we agreed was also light (a common theme). While he liked how the mushroom was less a dominant flavor than a partner, I thought it seemed thin, especially since there was nothing partnered with it.

Myself and Shrink both ordered the Grilled Lamb Skewers and Couscous, lamb cubes skewered on rosemary branches and served with yogurt and a side of couscous. Medium rare. The lamb and accompanying vegetables were perfectly tender, perfectly spiced and perfect-tasting. Sadly, the couscous was mediocre and barely worth the effort of eating. My cousin ordered the Grilled Truffle Chicken Palliard, a free-range chicken breast with herbs and spices and served with a mashed potato and leek confit. Again, I didn't stick my fork onto her plate (maybe next time), but she liked it a lot and recommended it. The Salmon a la Andalucia, seared salmon served with zucchini, fennel, tomato and chic peas that my aunt ordered was the best entree of the bunch. It lacked any and all fishiness, was as tender as gelatin and practically dissolved when it hit your tongue. It was what salmon is supposed to be. Dudeman went with the Shrimp and Scallop Paella and found, despite liking the dish as a whole, the portion lacking. Granted, he's probably better off without Applebye's-sized buckets of seasoned rice, but in his defense, two shrimp and two scallops seems somewhat chintzy for what would normally be a $30 entree. I thought it was decent, but it wasn't anything to write home about, either. I think I'm going to stick to my philosophy of only ordering paella in Spanish restaurants (I know, Spain is on the Med).

We tried two different desserts between the five of us, the Dessert Crostini was interesting but unimpressive. A row of shortbread crackers topped with mascarpone, cherry and pistachio couldn't hold a candle to the Chocolate Pot de Creme, which was like having a chocolate bar covered in cream and soft enough to be eaten with a spoon. It was a delicious and an unexpected (but welcome) surprise.

I was disappointed with the service. Normally, I find myself irritated at a waiter's constant attention. In this case though, the staff would vanish into the clear blue sky for a half an hour at a time. On multiple occasions after waiting and waiting I just decided to ask a busboy to hunt our waitress down. But this is a staff issue, not a kitchen one. The food all arrived promptly and at the same time.

Four prix-fix dinners an entree, drinks, and coffees came to $330 after tax and tip.

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