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Sampling the Fig Tree Cafe menu

Avocados are a local specialty
Avocados are a local specialty
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Fig Tree Cafe at Liberty Station

Rating:
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Fig Tree Café is in love with local produce. With three locations around San Diego, the demand for local has never been greater. The continuous, revolving set of guests signifies that something must be working out right.

Choose that location

Even though the choice pick could have been Hillcrest or Pacific Beach, the ultimate winner is Liberty Station. Open since summer 2013, it is time to take the plunge into the world of the Fig Tree Café. The Liberty Station eatery is located at 2400 Historic Decatur Rd Suite 103, approximately 20-25 minutes from Santee. This places the restaurant in close proximity to other local produce-touting establishments, and it puts a high emphasis on competition.

Get a prize for finding the café

Fig Tree Café is not easy to locate if you don’t know the area. It is at the back of a courtyard surrounded by plants and fountains. The restaurant sign gradually comes into focus when you stare at the jumble of chairs long enough.

To sit or not to sit

Arriving at the patio area, there is no one to greet us except a stack of menus on the table. For future note, you are supposed to wait. Fig Tree Café, please put up a sign to clearly signify this request. Since the interior of the restaurant is very small, most guests are seated on the patio. It is cramped, though, and you will be routinely bombarded with passing guests or food trays. Our table is clean, but there is a significant amount of red pepper and tomato mush underneath. Looking around, it is obvious that cleaning the patio flooring is not a high priority.

What’s on the menu?

Lunch and breakfast options are available on the same menu. Although there are sandwiches and salads, the majority of the items are egg based. The options sound very appealing, and with this promising start we settle for Grilled Turkey Paninis, one order with fries, and the other with a house salad. To drink? Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice and an Organic Black Iced Tea. Fig Tree Café, please add options to your non-alcoholic drink section.

Sample the food

When the orders arrive, the turkey paninis are dripping in butter. Be warned of the term “grilled.” It does not necessarily signify toasting plain bread on a grill. In essence the panini is a grilled cheese sandwich: slathered in butter and grilled till it oozes. The sandwich has turkey, avocado, cheese, mayonnaise, tomato, bacon and garlic aioli. Too much cheese and mayonnaise, compounded with dripping butter, make for a stomach-cramping meal. Not a good choice.

The fries are just like fast food fries: thin, crispy and tasteless. Where are the potato skins? Where is the potato taste? One bite is more than enough. The house salad comes with greens and lettuce, with huge chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers. An overload of balsamic vinaigrette makes for a soupy texture.

The orange juice is on the runny side, but the iced tea is perfect.

Give the final word

Fig Tree Café has many original dishes with a great emphasis on local produce. They want to be perceived as unique, and they strive for unusual items. With such a health-driven focus, though, they really should reconsider what the term really means. A panini dripping in butter, mayo and cheese is hardly healthy, nor are deep-fried tasteless fries. Perhaps the breakfast menu will be better. Perhaps the second time will be the charm, because the first time only ended in stomach aches.