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Mediterranean chic at Fig and Olive in Gold Coast

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Having experienced Fig and Olive in NYC, I was excited to give the Chicago version a go this past weekend. I was especially happy to see some of my favorite items from the NY menu on the Chicago menus, with the same great flavors and aromas I remembered.

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What's different about Fig and Olive in Chicago v. NYC is the ambiance. In Chicago, the Gold Coast spot is a scene (i.e. place to see and be seen). 2 stories high, with massive dining rooms, Fig and Olive is in the heart of the Oak Street shopping area, and adds a lovely touch to the high end street.

Walking in the door, we were directed to the elevator and headed to the 2nd floor. Upon entering the packed bar area, we were directed to wait a bit on our reservation, which is pretty typical in the "Chicago-sceney" spots these days, so this wasn't much of a surprise. When we finally got the busy bartenders attention, we ordered some Basil Hayden on the rocks and a couple of cucumber cosmos (vodka, cucumber, st. germain, etc. - all good things) and settled in.

We got seated soon after, and headed to the 3rd floor dining area and were seated by the skylight. We immediately ordered a variety of crostinis, perfect for all the various dietary needs at our table. From shrimp and avocado, to mushroom and cheese, these are some of my favorite starters on any menu. They are beautiful, flavorful, and near-perfect bites of lovely Mediterranean flavors. And they are a great starter to the meal. To accompany this, we enjoyed the olive oil and foccacia tasting which is standard at Fig and Olive.

After the starters, we moved onto the salmon crudo (with grapefruit and dill), which was nice and fresh, though could have had a bit more of a punch for me. Additionally, we dined on my favorite dish at Fig and Olive, the chicken tagine (tagine is a Moroccan-style clay oven/slow cooker great for stews and other hearty meals), with fresh vegetables, figs, apricots and more in a rich harissa broth. It wasn't presented in the actual tagine like it is in NYC, but it was just as good. It is accompanied with couscous, slivered almonds, and some lovely sauces as well. Really a great dish, and one worth sharing as it is fairly large.

We als had the fettucini with shrimp (on the side) and tomato cream sauce, along with the olive oil and chive mashed potatoes. For three people, this meal was quite enough, which makes Fig and Olive a great place to share bites across the table. Some notable dishes which we didn't try were the branzino in fig sauce, and the risotto with truffles. Definitely worth trying a second time.

I am glad to have Fig and Olive join the Chicago food arena. Though its a NYC spot, it brings fresh flavor and a lively experience to the Gold Coast dining scene. Hope you enjoy your first or next meal there as much as I will! Bon Appétit

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