Even on the coldest or gloomiest of days, a visit to FIG & OLIVE will lift your spirits, enliven your taste buds, and remind you that warm weather is just around the corner. The three-level sunlit space with an open kitchen, active main bar, and outdoor terrace serves upscale Mediterranean fare on the posh Oak Street, surrounded by such stores as Christian Louboutin, Carolina Herrera, and Tom Ford. Taking its cues from the South of France, Italy, and Spain, the 10,000 square foot space captures the essence of the French Riviera, both in ambiance and in taste. With locations in New York and California, the Oak Street iteration is FIG & OLIVE’s first in the Midwest.
I have visited FIG & OLIVE for both lunch and dinner, and am also a fan of sitting at the lovely, open bar for a cocktail after work. The crowd is sophisticated and lively, and the ambiance provides excellent people watching.
As its moniker may suggest, FIG & OLIVE is all about incorporating the best olive oils from France, Italy and Spain. Not a trace of butter can be found here, and a variety of extra virgin olive oils are even offered for tasting at the beginning of each meal. As a proponent of the Mediterranean diet, I was quickly on board with this concept.
The menu for both lunch and dinner is quite extensive, so I recommend going with a game plan, or a group that is interested in sharing a number of things. I highly recommend starting with a tasting of crostini featuring a variety of toppings served on small, crusty pieces of toast. My favorites are the simple burrata, tomato, pesto, and balsamic; the shrimp, avocado, cilantro, and tomato; and the mushroom, artichoke, truffle, scallion, and parmesan.
A light and refreshing carpaccio or crudo should also not be missed. For vegetarians, I highly recommend the zucchini carpaccio, and for others the salmon crudo, prepared with orange, grapefruit, dill, lemon, scallions, and Cobrancosa olive oil. It may be too beautiful to eat!
No Mediterranean restaurant can be visited without an order of octopus, and FIG & OLIVE’s iteration does not disappoint, The Octopus a la Gallega features thinly sliced braised octopus, marinated bell pepper, heirloom potato, black olives, basil, arugula, a spicy Pimenton lemon dressing and Cobrancosa olive oil. It was light, tasty, and full of flavor.
Also worthy of ordering are the truffle mushroom croquettes, which were a huge hit at our dinner table. Cremini mushrooms, parmesan, béchamel, and a truffle olive oil aioli make these fried fritters outstanding. We had to order a second round due to the high demand!
The lobster salad makes an excellent light lunch entree. Generous pieces of grilled Maine lobster is served atop watercress, arugula, Kumato tomato, cucumber, celery root, scallion, basil, and a lovely lemon olive oil emulsion.
Another of my favorite dishes is the truffle risotto, prepared with arborio rice, cremini and black trumpet mushrooms, parmesan, scallions, parsley, and white truffle olive oil. We added scallops to ours for some extra protein and it was decadent and divine.
From the ambiance, to the decor, to the food, I am a fan of FIG & OLIVE. While the menu can be overwhelming at first glance to so many delicious offerings, servers are happy to guide you and make thoughtful recommendations. FIG & OLIVE is perfect for a working lunch, a dinner with friends, or drinks and snacks at the bar. And, come summer, you can find me on the outdoor terrace with a glass of French Champagne in hand.
FIG & OLIVE is open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner seven days a week, and for brunch on the weekend. Reservations are accepted and encouraged, especially for dinner on the weekends.
104 East Oak Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611