Named after the gigantic 133-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree that looms over the entrance to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, FIG restaurant, located just off the hotel lobby, is offering a locally and seasonally sourced menu that even tree huggers would admire.
And they have just launched the Fig Bungalow, a freestanding rustic cottage with a full bar, separate menu, comfortable seating and an unrivaled view of sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
The place is jamming, with lines out the door every day but Monday, when it's closed. I was at a party to celebrate the new Fig signature label wine, a collaboration between La Fenetre winemaker Joshua Klapper of the Santa Maria Valley near Santa Barbara, and Fig Executive Chef Ray Garcia. The Chardonnay is pure California while the Pinot Noir bows toward Burgundy. And the wine can be purchased for carry-out at $36 and $42 per bottle, respectively.
Well-traveled chef Ray Garcia honed his skills working in the kitchen with national treasure Thomas Keller at his world famous French Laundry in the Napa Valley town of Yountville and at two-starred Michelin restaurant Cyrus in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, alongside Douglas Keane. In Los Angeles he toiled at the Peninsula Hotel before taking on the duties at FIG.
A fanatic when it comes to eating locally grown sustainable foods and keeping a green kitchen, Angeleno magazine dubbed him "locavore-acious" in their "Best of LA" picks. The restaurant sources food from the local Farmer's Market, filters its water, composts and even recycles its fryer oil into soap.
A Political Science graduate of UCLA, Ray worked his way through college in the kitchens of several restaurants, which developed his interest in becoming a chef rather than a lawyer. "Food choose me, I didn't choose it. The tastes, smells, sounds and camaraderie of the professional kitchen all kept drawing me back in, so I enrolled in culinary school instead of law school."
Describing FIG's ambiance as "inviting and approachable," the bungalow menu is fun and full of small plate items, from lobster rolls to upscale hotdogs and high end hamburger sliders, chased by creative and delicious cocktails or savored with the house wine.
The hotel has a storied history in which the bungalows have a major role. Situated across from the Pacific Ocean bluffs, the gardens lead past the outdoor pool to little bungalows whose rooms have provided shelter for Hollywood trysts and stays by Marilyn Monroe, Gretta Garbo, Cary Grant, Susan Hayward, Betty Grable, who was discovered while singing at the hotel bar, Doris Day, President John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Mark Twain, Susan B. Anthony, King Gillette of razor fame, rock bands, world leaders and just everyday people, presumably not staying in the bungalows alone.
The hotel grounds were originally the home of John P. Jones, the founder and developer of the city and first Mayor. He had his choice of locations and he choose this one for it's spectacular views of the bay and the beauty of the property. Later on he donated the bluffs to the city of Santa Monica and it was named Palisades Park, a two mile stretch of walking paths that meander through gardens with spectacular trees and flora of all sorts, magnificent palms, recreation and rest areas and a vista that stretches 30 miles, from Malibu to Palos Verdes.
The hotel has been a location site for multiple films and TV shows, there are only so many ocean front properties with views like this. The Fairmont Miramar, it will make you care a FIG.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
101 Wilsire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401,
For Reservations: 310-319-3111 (Fig Restaurant), (310) 899-8530 (Fig Bungalow), info@figsantamonica,com
The Fig Bungalow open Tues - Sat: 5:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Sun: 2:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fig restaurant open daily for breakfast 7 a.m.-11a.m., lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sunday Brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Fig at 5 Happy Hour (5-6 p.m.) half off the dinner and cocktail menu.
Keg and Eggs Sunday Brunch ($25) features a bottomless pint when you purchase one of the entrees, quite the way to start your day.
This is a popular spot and reservations are always suggested.
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