Even though the chain originated in New York, Fig & Olive could hardly be more O.C. The menu incorporates multiple sunny-Mediterranean cuisines in light, fresh dishes served in an airy, high-ceilinged space decorated in a palette of elegant whites. It’s a package that locals recognize and embrace—especially when it includes a long, ultraluxe bar.
Recently, the restaurant extended bar service right into the dining areas at weekend brunch, with a rolling bloody mary cart loaded with everything needed to mix an eye-opener (or hair of the dog) to custom specifications. There are suggested combinations branching out from the classic tomato juice-vodka—bloody maria is made with Peligroso tequila, jalapeño, lime juice, and a chili rim, or bloody marlene, which has Tanqueray gin, orange juice, and a touch of Old Bay seasoning. The tried-and-true is also available, of course, made with Belvedere vodka, celery-salt-rim, and cornichon garnish. Any is $16. A new $28 prix-fixe brunch menu includes entrées like south of France poached eggs with salmon, cream cheese, pimento spread, avocado, and tomato, and crab cakes eggs benedict with spinach, shallots, paprika hollandaise, roasted potatoes, and cippolini onions.
Something else new at Fig & Olive is the departure of executive chef Pascal Lorange, who oversaw all the company’s restaurants, the newest of which opened in Chicago last summer. Lorange was a frequent visitor to the Newport Beach location, often presenting cooking classes, like the one I attended last year. Lorange “is in Europe with his family focusing on his future endeavors,” according to a spokesperson, who adds, “while his presence at the restaurant is missed by guests and staff alike, the Fig & Olive team is grateful for his tenure.” No word yet on a replacement.