So far during the summer of 2014, Fig & Olive has emerged as the unofficial headquarters for Chicago’s beautiful people. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the Gold Coast outpost of the national chain delivers innovative food, delicious drinks, and a stylish, upscale atmosphere that’s ideal for both date night and gatherings of good friends.
Weekends tend to be best for the latter, as the place becomes a lively, loud paradise for people-watching. The aisles can resemble a catwalk for both patrons and servers, so call your most stylish pals, wear something you feel great in, and arrive fashionably late. Time it right and you’ll be finishing your last bites as a deejay starts spinning those hot hits that always make you want to shake a tail feather.
But first, the food. Fig & Olive’s menu draws inspiration from the Mediterrean region. That means, of course, plenty of olive oil. Start with a tasting of three distinct extra virgin olive oils paired with the signature, freshly baked rosemary olive oil fougasse bread. The fragrant aromas will have your mouth watering, so keep the starters coming with shareable plates of cured meats and seafood. A heaping mound of Jamon Iberico and the trio crudo tasting (salmon, tuna, beef tartare) arrive with drizzles of imported olive oil and olives.
If you’re still in a sharing mood, several of the main courses should be perfect for the table. A homey paella overflows with black tiger shrimp, scallops, mussels, chicken, and green peas, while the signature risotto is extra creamy and topped with black trumpet mushroom scallions and white truffle olive oil.
But if you’re a true connoisseur of Mediterranean-style seafood, order the whole branzino. Marinated with lemon, rosemary, bay leaves, and garlic, it’s the most delicately delicious fish you’ve ever tasted, and it’s prepared tableside (no fighting with fish bones) and served with your choice of side dishes, including sauteed baby kale and shallot and olive oil chive mashed potato.
Yep, that’s a lot of hearty, rich fare. All the more reason to hit the dance floor to work it all off in the most enjoyable way.