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F.I.G. Review (Tristan later)

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Ok, so just went down for Spoleto and went to dinner at FIG and brunch at Tristan. Here is the FIG review:

We arrived a half an hour earlier than our reservations, so we sat at the bar and had a drink (manhattans). Oh, funny side note, Paolo (from Paolo's Gelato) was standing at the bar when we came in and sat a table away at dinner. Anyway...the design of the restaurant is really nice. There's a large round table in a niche to the left of the bar and then directly behind the bar there's a "bar" type table with stools where you can eat. Then to get to the main dining room it's just beyond the bar area and is one large room. Painted in earth tones with soothing "water" paintings and dim lighting it's a perfect ambaiance. They keep the shutters closed on the windows until later in the evening (about 8) which keeps a feeling of intimacy/privacy since the you'd look right onto King st. otherwise. Anyway,while we were sitting at the bar the chef, Mike Lata, came out to talk to another customer (i'm guessing a regular) at the bar. We were introduced and talked to him for a bit. He's the most engaging, polite, sincere, and interesting person!
The meal itself was absolutely delicious! Our waitress was so sweet too, which just makes the experience even better. For aps I got the bibb lettuce salad with riccota salata, pistachios, and a light sherry vinaigrette (there was an herb too, maybe mint?) It was served in a beautiful wooden bowl. My mother had the cold cucumber soup which was creamy and light with small pieces of smoked salmon. Then we shared the Spaghetti with fava beans, prosciutto and creme fraiche, which was one of the best parts of the meal that night. The spaghetti was perfectly al dente as were the fava beans and it wasn't heavy at all. Just perfect! For our entrees, I got the salmon (Copper River?) which was served with asparagus (again, perfectly coooked) and a garnished with a green sauce (not exactly sure what). One thing I noticed was that normally I prefer my salmon medium to done, but I told the waitress to tell the chef to cook it however he'd reccomend and it was almost raw, though didn't bother me in the least bit. I think when most salmon is cooked perhaps the outside dries out in the searing process so the rare inside is such a great contrast. My mother got the grouper which was in an olive oil broth with summer vegetables. I actually preferred hers to mine (the broth was great) but both dishes were superb. We ordered a side of cauliflower which was AMAZING! It was cooked so it was soft, but then broiled (so brown and crunchy on top) and served with a creamy dijon sauce. Then, the highlight of the evening, the chef brought out a complimentary side of their pureed potatoes, which could compete with the pasta in terms of our favorite dish. I've never had such smooth and delicious potatoes. By this point we'd eaten every bit on our plates, though surprisingly, neither of us were too full to skip dessert. I think that's the sign of good cooking, that even after eating what seems to be a ton, you aren't overly stuffed. For dessert, I got the half-baked chocolate cake with came with a small scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and some fresh chopped strawberries (not macerated, just freshly cut). My mother got the lemon tart with a small dollop of whipped cream. Both were good, though honestly I wasn't too awed by either. The lemon tart was incredibly light with almost a mousse-like consistency, it literally "melted in your mouth." My only complaint about the chocolate cake was it was a bit eggy...which may just be a personal taste issue; I like areally rich and fudgy, oozey chocolate cake. When they brought the check each person gets a slice of Charantais melon which was perfectly ripe and so sweet! It puts honeydew to shame. So, great experience + the price was very nice. Nice room and service and I forgot to mention this but the chef continued to walk around the room throughout dinner and talk to the customers the entire meal, which signifies how much he cares about the diners and his cooking. Highly, highly reccomended.

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  1. I've been to FIG a half a dozen times probably, and while I like it quite a bit, I will say that I've never had a complimentary side brought to our table, never had complimentary fruit brought out with the check, and never even had the chef stop by our table, not once on any visit that I can remember. And one time, our service was truly mediocre (though it was Valentine's Day, so I gave them a pass). All of which is to say, either FIG has stepped up their service of late or you were there on an exceptional night (or they really liked you!). Good for you of course, but it's not the service I've experienced as a semi-regular.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Low Country Jon

      It must just have been a lucky night then. I know what you're talking about though...I'll read where people can't say enough good stuff about restaurants I've been/go to quite often and I never understand why they like it so much. I guess it's all in the day you go.

      1. re: Low Country Jon

        We also just ate at FIG during Spoleto; my report appears below (loved that cauliflower also and forgot to mention it) and although I loved it, I have to say, we didn't get any of those goodies either! Good for you that you did. I'm always excited when I get something a bit extra...and it always surprises me when restaurants don't do it for regulars...

      2. Count me in with LCJ, I have never received a complimentary side dish nor have I received melon with my check. I have been there almost a dozen times with the most recent being during this year's Spoleto. You must have been there on the right night, lucky you. I have, however, spoken with the chef, although briefly. I will add that it was Copper River salmon because that is what my bf had a couple of weeks ago, and the next time you go try the Carolina Gold rice pudding for dessert. I am not a huge fan of rice pudding, but it is by far the best I have ever had. When I had the pudding, it was topped with red wine macerated cherries, yum.

        3 Replies
        1. re: lizzy

          Haha, I remember making a comment about the rice pudding saying, "why would you ever want to order that for dessert?" I'm not surprised it's really good though...was it grainy at all? I really wanted to try the roasted chicken, but alas have only limited space in my stomach.

          1. re: izzizzi

            The rice pudding is very tasty, not grainy at all in my experience. I also like their suckling pig and their gnocchi. Other dishes have been hit or miss for me, though I really like FIG's local-foods focus in general.

            I used to love Anson's back when Lata was chef there. It really seemed like that place went downhill after he left.

            Look forward to your Tristan review.

            1. re: izzizzi

              No, not grainy for me either. I didn't have it this last go around, but I remember it being very creamy.