Lunch in Mediterranean Mind at Fig & Olive

Fashion Island’s Fig & Olive, subject of dining critic Gretchen Kurz’ Main Course review in the current Orange Coast, has added a new summer lunch menu, not straying far from its fresh, light, pan-Mediterranean emphasis. And that’s a good thing. A new option in mix-and-match crostini ($12 for three) is octopus and tomato on carrot purée, and at a media preview the can-be-rubbery cephalopod had just the perfect bite, thanks to proper cooking and thin slicing. A topping of crab and avocado gets the unusual addition of apple—surprising but good.

A new lunch main is the sea bass in papillote ($34) demonstrated at a cooking class with executive chef Pascal Lorange a few months ago. A cloud of fragrant steam emerges when the packet of fish and vegetables is cut open tableside, which is half the point of this cooking method, along with the moist fish and concentrated vegetable flavor that results. I tried the lamb chop Milanese ($26), a crumb-coated rib chop pounded thin but left on the bone. Even at something like 3/8-inch thick, it was crunchy outside and pink in the middle: perfectly cooked. A little nest of sautéed fennel and a couple of petite stalks of broccolini were nice alongside—in a world where what’s labeled crisp-tender too often is basically raw, I really appreciate well-cooked vegetables.

Lunch or dinner, don’t miss the golden shortbread cookies topped with mascarpone and deep-red strawberries from Oxnard’s famous Harry’s Berries ($8)—even avowed dessert haters will scarf up these “dessert crostini.”



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