When it comes to restaurants with ambiance, it’s hard to beat the Mediterranean flare of Fig & Olive. Tucked above one of my favorite shops, Carolina Herrara (still dreaming about this dress), their swanky space serves up the perfect combination of style and flavor for catching a little R&R while shopping on Oak Street. And for those of you outside of the Windy City, they have locations in NYC and CA too!
So one abnormally warm and spring-ish Saturday in January, I met the girls (Gigi, Starr and Katharine) for brunch and serious window shopping. The enormous bar makes for a truly fantastic entrance space complete with two-story atrium and towering center olive tree. It comes fully stocked with quite a few bottles of my favorite bubbly!
After you proceed to the next level, you find yourself transported to a sunny, open white space that inevitably makes your heart groan for summer and days spent leisurely nibbling fresh fare from a Mediterranean seaside cafe. See the Olive Tree from the bar below growing into the atrium dining space?
Not to mention an enormous wall of olive oil bottles hiding the kitchen behind. Am I the only person who gets excited about taking peaks into kitchens and watching the chefs at work? I always learn something new!
The seating space is luxurious yet relaxed with marble-top tables, cozy pillows and warm sunlight radiating through the overhead windows.
Not to mention their killer outdoor patio that, AGAIN, makes you pine for warmer months.
The view is quite spectacular!
Dubbed a kitchen and tasting bar, Fig & Olive is all about trying as many new and innovative dishes as you can manage to scarf down. Starr and Gigi both started off with one of Fig’s famous brunch mocktails, Banane et Orange: freshly squeezed orange juice, muddled banana, fresh ginger and lemon juice with clover honey. Someday when I’m preggers and can’t have a mimosa, I’ll be living off these! The price for their mocktails is quite high but the flavor is astoundingly impressive!
Next came copious amounts of oysters!! Which may have been my #1 reason for visiting that morning…
Katharine tried her very first oyster that day too — her horrified reaction is absolutely priceless! You can watch a gif of it here. Without thinking it through, we told Katharine to just pile on the toppings as she pleased and the mixture of mignonettes positively ruined the oyster flavor for her. When she tried them the following week at GT Fish & Oyster, she kept the dressings simple and loved them!
Pro Tip: don’t overload your oysters!Unless you’re like me and you LOVE horseradish. Then pile it on and prepare to clear your sinuses!**SLURP** Sinus Clearing achieved!Starr and I opted for the Truffle Mushroom Fontina Scrambled Eggs: scrambled eggs with cremini & black trumpet mushrooms mascarpone, fontina, scallion and White Truffle Olive Oil. The texture was beautiful but I have to admit I was disappointed in the lack of truffle and mushroom flavor in these eggs. I was expecting a flavor wallop and instead got cheesy scrambled eggs which, while excellently prepared, fell seriously short in mushroom-truffleness.
It was very photogenic though!And the simply dressed side salad of fresh produce and a drizzle of basil oil was divine!Katharine opted to start with the Provençal Carrot & Thyme Soup: heirloom baby carrot, celery, onion garlic, thyme, crushed tomato and olive oil crouton which was elegantly poured over croutons and carrots at the table.
Gigi ordered the most decadent soup I’ve sampled all winter: Maine Lobster Bisque with Pimenton chive mascarpone and olive oil crackers. I can’t think of a lobster bisque I’ve enjoyed more.For her entrée, Katharine opted for the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict: poached egg on toasted crostone bread, crab cake, sautéed spinach with shallot, tomato, paprika hollandaise sauce, served with a side of roasted potatoes with cipollini onion.
No self-respecting, posh brunch group forgoes dessert on a Saturday morning. You wear pants with a high spandex content and you forge on!!! Even when you don’t think you can manage another bite. And most especially when you brunch group is armed with five-figures in camera gear specifically curated for food photography.
**Disclaimed: this is me rationalizing the fact that I haven’t lost any of my Christmas Cookie weight yet.** Isn’t Katharine such a beauty? You can see her outfit post from our brunch here too. Ah the grand arrival of the best course! Is there anything more exciting than a table full of desserts?
Ok, ok a table full of Prada bags would be pretty damn exciting too! Katharine and Gigi both opted for this sinful Warm Chocolate Soufflé with candied orange & vanilla ice cream.If only I had gotten a better shot of the melty center for you! It simply oozed out! But I was too busy staring down this bad boy! Starr and I both ordered Fig’s Crème Brûlée Cheesecake with olive oil crisp and caramelized peaches.
**CRACK**How sexy is THAT? While the peaches and savory crisp may seem like… bizarre… choices for a dessert, I was surprised to find that they really did belong together. The savory and tart elements balance the perfectly sweet and whipped texture of the cheesecake while the crunchy and oh-so-fun-to-crack topping lent a beautifully burnt sweetness to the remaining elements. It was a splendidly perfect dessert!
Our brunch was hilarious fun and I can’t wait to go back to Fig & Olive in the summer months and take advantage of their gorgeous balcony!