It is here that I have decided to include recipes, restaurant reviews, and tasty drinks I come across. I grew up with parents who truly appreciate good food and great atmospheres. I have been lucky to visit many different restaurants of varying levels of anonymity, as well as some world famous ones. You will not find kitchy-themed restaurants here! My family likes the unique ones, the ones that you plan a vacation around, the ones that truly leave you with a memorable experience.
Fig and Olive – LA ¦ Melrose Place
Fig and Olive is a boutique style restaurant with locations in California, New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. The restaurant prides itself on creating intimate seating areas where guests can truly enjoy the food and each other in a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. While there are traditional tables and chairs, there is wicker, outdoor-esque couch seating throughout the bar and the main dining room, lined with white linen blend pillows and cushions.
The entire restaurant is very light and airy with an ever-present scent of rosemary from the rosemary in planters throughout the restaurant. This carries through into the concept behind the food. The menus are seasonal and all the dishes are made with olive-oil instead of butter. The beauty in this is that the dishes are lighter, but they use a variety of olive oils that bring and highlight different aspects of the dishes, and bring fresh flavors alive. If you have never done an olive oil tasting, do one, and then visit this restaurant! You will have such an enlightened respect and appreciation for the artistry of olive oils.
While the atmosphere was very beautiful, the food and drinks were also impressive. I am an avid lover of restaurants and bars that design their own drinks. I like something new and interesting, not just the typical mixed drinks. Fig and Olive left nothing out in the creation of their speciality cocktails. I had the Raspberry Mojito, (yes, rather traditional, but I am a sucker for a mojito with fresh fruit in the summer!), it was a little heavy on the raspberry, but was still delicious. My mother tried the Summer in Provence, a delightful blend of rum, lime and blackberry with a rosemary-thyme syrup to bring a herbal aroma to round off the light and refreshing beverage. My second cocktail was the Mediterranean Mule, a French take on the Moscow Mule. This delightful drink had Grey Goose vodka, fresh ginger, lime, fresh rosemary, rosemary syrup and ginger beer. Again, the herbal notes of the rosemary really rounded out the drink and made it tasty!
To start the table off, they bring freshly baked rosemary focaccia and an olive oil tasting. Ours had three Spanish olive oils that were grassy and peppery in flavor. They were all delightful! The first, the left, was nice and light while the middle one was a pleasant mixture of the grassy flavor with a hint of pepper. The right one was the darkest with a stronger, peppery finish. It was a bit spicy and would be delicious as a finisher on a nice white fish.
We opted for a variety of their crostinis, appetizers and entrees for our table to share. Perhaps my favorite thing was the Crostini selection. My parents tease me that I will eat almost anything on bread, and it is mostly true! I love bread! It is a beautiful thing. We tried about 9 different ones, my favorites were the Manchego, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto. The Manchego was complete with a fig spread and marcona almonds, (Paul Martin’s in Rancho has a similar item on their happy hour menu and it is my weakness!) The Goat Cheese stole the show with caramelized onions, while the Prosciutto was perfectly paired with ricotta, fig and walnut. All of them were delicious though!
We also tried the Sea Scallops, which my sister loved. They were served atop honey roasted carrots with orange segments and two different charmoula sauces. The Salmon Tartar was paired with rosemary crisps to balance the dill and cucumber with the tartar. We also did a Beef Carpaccio topped with arugula and white truffle oil. For the entrees we tried, a Sea Bass, a Salmon and a Truffle Risotto. All were delicious, although the Truffle Risotto was not my favorite. The rest of my family liked it, but I don’t care for truffles and the risotto was very truffle-y. The fish dishes were cooked to perfection. Our waiter actually asked us how we like our salmon prepared! I thought this was excellent because an overcooked or undercooked salmon could be upsetting, depending on how you prefer it done. This ensure the fish was as we like it.
To round out a delicious meal, dessert was no less wonderful. I was torn between a chocolate or and orange dessert. Our waiter recommended the chocolate one, come to find they were actually out of the orange one. Because he had wanted us to try the orange, and we couldn’t, he brought us a cup of their strawberry ice cream for us to try. It was simply delightful! It was atop a thin thyme infused cookie crisp and topped with fresh whipped cream. It was so delicious, I cannot even tell you! The dessert I did order, a beautiful Chocolate Fondant, was a mix between a souffle and a lava cake. It was nice and moist, but also rich. I couldn’t hope to finish it! It was served with a very nice vanilla ice cream with a hint of orange flavor. I enjoyed it with a wonderful cappuccino and a very nice lambrusco, (a sweeter, fizzy chilled wine). My sister had ordered the wine but didn’t care for the sweetness. However, I really enjoyed it.
All in all, it was a great evening with my family. The restaurant does cater to longer, enjoyable meals with conversation and time spent together. It is a very relaxing atmosphere and it is easy to forget you are not the only ones in the restaurant. Our waiter was great, knowledgable on the food and drinks, and attentive. I am looking forward to going again soon! I am looking forward to their fall menu.
Barton G – Los Angeles
A little background information, Barton G. Weiss is a world renowned event planner extraordinaire. His first restaurant open in Miami, Florida, and his second in Los Angeles, California. The LA location is the one I had the pleasure of visiting.
The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated. Weiss incorporates glass walls with mini flower holders featuring fresh orchids. There are gorgeous satin drapes used to enclose the couch like booths for a more private dining experience. Intricately carved moldings are used in a picture frame like fashion to outline the back booths in an alcove full of fluffy cushions and a bench seat style booth.
The room is breathtaking in its beauty. All in what appears to be a champagne and metallic color scheme bringing light, life and movement into the dimly lit space. Chandeliers provide most of the lighting in the room as well as some other decorative light fixtures.
The menu includes many interesting and tasty items but it is the way the items are served that really make Barton G.’s a must visit. I have included items from our meal in the following pictures.