If you’re browsing the Santa Monica farmer’s market on a Wednesday morning, you’ll probably see executive chef Yousef Ghalaini picking the freshest local ingredients for his Mediterranean-inspired menu at FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica. Most of the ingredients at FIG are natural and organic, and the seasonal cuisine is fun, fresh, and delicious.
FIG is classy, but extremely comfortable. It has an indoor/outdoor feel, and overlooks the lush gardens and the sparkling pool of the Miramar hotel. You will definitely want to linger over the delicious food and unique wine, while listening to the retro sounds of Fleetwood Mac, Diana Ross, and James Brown, the godfather of soul.
You enter FIG restaurant through the Fairmont Miramar hotel, across from the bluffs in Santa Monica. This historic hotel has hosted some of the most intriguing and notable people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, and Denzel Washington.
The lobby is opulent, and filled with beautiful flowers designed and supplied by Ali, one of the servers at FIG. She’s also the rooftop gardener, so be sure to ask her about the herbs and produce that are used in creating FIG’s delightful cuisine.
You might choose to start your meal with a sweet and creamy corn chowder with organic slow-cooked carrots. It is the perfect comfort food. It’s presented beautifully, slowly poured from the tureen to the bowl, so that the lovely sugary scent ignites your senses before you even take a taste.
FIG’s salads are beautiful and tasty. The stone fruit salad has ripe orange and red peaches mixed with a mild halloumi sheep’s milk cheese. The mixed tomato salad is bold and colorful, and perfectly paired with a slice of French feta cheese. The bright colors add to the fresh, sweet flavor. This salad is definitely one of my new favorites.
The entrees are varied enough to satisfy any taste. For the main course, guests can choose lamb, beef, chicken, fish, or a nice selection of vegetarian options. My favorite is the organic chicken cooked Mediterranean style, with a succotash base. It melts in your mouth.
FIG proudly and properly boasts its own fromager, Eric, who handpicks some of the most exotic domestic and international cheeses and charcuterie. Eric is aptly nicknamed “the cheese guru” and he will enthusiastically share his immense knowledge of the meat and cheese choices at the end of the bar. Ask him about “The Kiss” from Berner, Switzerland. It’s described as “Intense, Silky-Rich Double Cream.” And it most certainly is!
FIG also has an extensive selection of fine wines. Ask Dan, the sommelier to suggest some pairings. If you’re up for it, try both the FIG Pinot Noir and the FIG Chardonnay, and join the debate over which is better.
You can only hope that you still have some room left for dessert because it will be worth every single calorie. You can’t go wrong if you choose the chocolate three-layer praline topped with coffee ice cream and shaved white chocolate sprinkles. You might also want to try FIG’s signature chocolate chip cookie. It’s soft and gooey on the inside with melty chocolate chips.
Lauren, our server, was the star of the show. She was enthusiastic and funny, and was very knowledgeable about the ingredients and the food preparation. She was also happy to answer any questions, which added to the restaurant’s charm and relaxed ambience.
FIG has made some exciting changes recently. The best news is that FIG is now open seven nights a week for dinner, and seven nights a week for happy hour from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. It’s one of the best happy hours in town because almost everything on the menu is half price! But don’t be a minute late, because this happy hour ends on the dot.
Fresh and local seasonal dishes, casual atmosphere, and fine wine—it’s what we love about Santa Monica.