Fig & Olive lifts the culinary game in the galleria. Opened in early March, it is the first of several upscale eateries that promise to seduce us in the Philip Johnson-designed, curved facade of the former Saks Fifth Avenue. The blonde woods, the massive windows, the rows of fresh verdant rosemary plants perfectly capture the essence of Fig & Olive’s menu focus – that of western mediterranean region.
Think south of France, Italy, Spain and northern Africa. Think olive oil, risotto and crostini. Think delicious. Think mushroom croquettes with truffle aioli. Think fabulous.
Stopping in for a mid-afternoon snack or a happy hour cocktail? A must order would be the Foie Gras Crostini with its smear of fig jam, a sprinkling of orange zest, fresh black and red pepper and salt. The picture of simple perfection. Another good bet would be the smoky, slightly salty Jamon Iberico accented with a smoked tomato concasse. There are nine crostini offerings on the menu. Flavors range from shrimp and avocado to burrata with pesto and an 18-year-old balsamic vinegar – each atop rectangular, easy to eat planks of toast, the toppings artfully arranged, deliciously prepared.
Octopus Carpaccio is another winner (and frankly, the best I have had in Houston to date). Sparked to life with a piquillo pepper puree.
The tastiest of tomatoes and cubes of watermelon play against the supple creamy cheese in the Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Salad. Salty olive dust, a sprinkling of micro basil and a simple cider vinegar dressing complete this summery salad.
Houston’s Fig & Olive joins the brand‘s six other outposts in Chicago, NYC, LA, Newport Beach and D.C. Ambience and menu development are tried and true, painstakingly developed and researched by corporate Executive Chef TIMOTHY HUGHES, who flew into town for several weeks to get the Houston crew, headed up by Houston’s Chef de Cuisine TOMMY LACZYNSKI, into tip-top F&O form. In turn, Laczynski and senior Sous Chef GIYERMO MIRANDA flew here and there, traveling the F&O circuit, learning the recipes, preparation techniques and management styles. So well, in fact, that serving a whopping 450 covers on opening weekend was a piece of cake. There was no need for trial and error. F&O knows how to make it work.
And Chef Laczynski and crew know how to outdo themselves as in the pristine freshness and outrageous deliciousness of the Hamachi Crudo. Glistening pieces of pink-white fish, aswim in a basil, orange olive oil.
Even the waitstaff knows what’s up. Without hesitation, the waiter could tell and spell the specific olive that is used to make the much favored oil that is most prevalent in the creamy, dreamy two ingredient mashed potatoes. FYI: Arbequina. Olive oil is even featured on the dessert menu in the moist, fine crumbed Olive Oil Cake, soaked in an orange-scented Moroccan syrup and sprinkled with blood orange dust.
Truffle Risotto – loaded with wild mushrooms, earthy truffles.
A delightful and tasty Paella Del Mar. Very tasty, aggressively seasoned, scallops succulent and black tiger shrimp peppery and, I am told, the most popular item on the menu.
Rosemary Lamb Chops with a delightful chickpea panisse (a dish from Provence – basically a chick pea fritter, creamy inside, crisp exterior) on a generous bed of sautéed organic mushrooms and a most delightful tomato confit.
And then there is the piece de resistance, a massive boneless Balsamic Glazed Short Rib with crispy polenta and a fresh frisée salad with bacon lardons. Also highly recommended – a side of roasted carrots – sweet, succulent and ever so pretty. And lastly, tasting of spring, the sweet, sweet Strawberry Vacherin with its chards of unique thyme meringue are the perfect ending to a memorable meal.
Fig & Olive is more than a Galleria restaurant. It is a destination location.
5115 Westheimer Rd. | Houston, TX 77056
832.632.6632 | email@example.com