Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A New Hip And Healthy Restaurant Hot Spot

How Cool would it be to walk into a chic upscale restaurant and have a fresh, seasonal, vegan meal tailored by the chef especially for you?
Well the other night, that's exactly what happened.

Rich and I were driving home from a design job wrap up when Rich suggested we pop in at the newly opened Figue Mediterranean Restaurant (The name Figue is French for fig and rhymes with "intrigue") for a late lunch/early dinner. 

Rich had already scoped out this restaurant a few days before and was excited to learn they are focused on an organic, fresh, seasonal and sustainable menu, which is unusual for around here. Plus he knew I would really want to see the decor. He was right.

As soon as we stepped in, it was obvious this was a cool place and we could see by the specials board on the wall above the bar that they had a great menu, but that nagging thought remained, what could I eat here?  As I looked over the menu, I saw a few things that I could alter and I explained to the hostess that I had a special diet that I needed to stick to for health reasons.  She quickly replied that the chef would be happy to accommodate my needs and in fact had just done that for a Vegan last night! I had to smile as I told her that yep, I was one of those vegans too but also needed my food sans salt and oil. The manager walked up just at that time and reconfirmed that the chef would be happy to work with my needs. Game on!

At 5 pm we were not the first to arrive but just about. I explained to the manager as we walked to our table that I was a designer and therefore had a compulsive need to snap photos and since we were early he was more than gracious to let me shoot away.

So first a little about the decor:

The style is organic rustic meets stylish industrial turn of the century vibe. Lots of wood, paired with great eclectic classical modern furniture. Behind the tall wood sculptures in the entry, you see that the bar front is also clad in the distressed wood that sides the building outdoors, but this time in a distinctive and contemporary chevron pattern.  On one side of the bar, large farm-style, raised harvest tables project from it in an organized cattywampus style with industrial iron and wood counter stools stashed underneath. It's very inviting.

If there were one word to sum up the theme of the restaurant it would have to be "share." You hear it in the server's description of the small plate section of the menu and the space is definitely designed for the gathering of friends and sharing of great food. In the center of every table is placed a small stack of plates to drive this idea home.

From the bar to the lounge, to the big harvest style tables and the chef's tables off the kitchen, you get the sense that big parties are welcome and encouraged. (and also that someone loves cool chairs.)

On either side of the bar are two lounge seating areas with a cozy and eclectic mix of furnishings, along with a definitive collection of oversized chandeliers and pendants. Such a great focal point.

And if you are a party of one or even two or more and craving company, or if you'd like to just be in on the action of the food prep you can sit sushi bar style at the Crudo/ Charcuterie bar ("crudo" meaning raw meat and "charcuterie" meaning smoked, cured and dressed meat and meat dishes.) The marble adorned counters and white tile background walls are crisply appealing but look at these chairs. LOVE these bent wood chair counter stools.

The building itself sits facing the west so the whole back side is essentially glass windows.  In the early evening hours, the interiors are infused with lots of natural light. Throughout the large space, big sheer curtains act as flowing partitions that blow gently in the air to create a sense of intimacy. It has a beautiful effect. And get a look at these fantastic mid century modern inspired dining chairs. (Can you tell I have a chair fetish?) But seriously, restaurant chairs are not usually this exciting.

So after being seated and greeted by our server with a detailed description of the specials, two unusual things appeared at our table: First a bottle of complimentary water, with a private house label of course, that kept being replaced throughout the course of our meal. And secondly, the chef, Francois de Melogue appeared at our table (my apologies Chef, as I can't find the fonts with the appropriate accents to do your name and nationality justice.)

It was such a pleasure to meet Chef. He shared how he had moved down from the Northern California area, Sonoma to be exact, where vegan food is a norm in most restaurants, so he assured me that preparing food for my requirements would not be a problem. He suggested that for the future, if I could call two days in advance he would be happy to prepare something more creative for me. More creative? I can't even imagine.

Rich ordered from the menus and I sat back and anxiously waited to see what would arrive for me.

         Flat Bread with Hummus                            White Salad                     Tabouli w/ Figs, Yellow Beets
                                                                                                and Cucumber

First to up was a plate of hummus with flat bread for us to share (loved the plate!) It really hit the spot. It was then followed by "Pistou" for Rich, a springtime vegetable, bean and pasta soup and a "White Salad" for me. (Rich was a little quick with his spoon and fork so unfortunately I don't have pictures of his soup or entree.) He thoroughly enjoyed his.

Equally, my "White Salad" was delicious. It was a mix of arugula, shaved fennel, shaved red onion, orange segments and two strips of date leather (flattened fresh date) with an aged balsamic vinegar on the side. Such a great mix of flavors!

My entree was a Tobouli Salad, a blend of bulgur wheat, yellow beets, fresh figs on a sliced cucumber bed, sprinkled with a little fresh dill. Delicious!

For those non vegans reading this, Rich's special was a Greek Octopus Salad. Mesquite grilled fresh octopus, tossed in a Greek vinaigrette, Mediterranean olives, fingerling potatoes, roasted sweet red peppers, shaved fennel on a bed of frisse greens. He loved it.

Iced Expresso                                      Fresh Strawberry Sorbet              Root Beer Float Shots made
                                                                                                                    w/ White Chocolate Sorbet 

Next up was dessert. Rich ordered an Iced Expresso with chocolate sorbet, salted caramels, topped with almond mascarpone and a pirouette cookie. He's not usually a dessert person but he greedily ate every bite. My dessert was paired down from a special. It was essentially a sorbet made with freshly grown baby strawberries in a strawberry soup with lavender flower petals and very tasty. As if that wasn't enough, the chef later appeared with root beer float shots made with white chocolate sorbet. Truly delicious. We felt so spoiled.

We were also visited by the restaurateur himself, Lee Morcus, who shared his passion for farm fresh, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients. He told us about some of the small local purveyors where the food was grown and raised. While he has other local and successful restaurants we could tell this restaurant is his baby and he's very proud. As he should be.

We had an incredible meal, in a visually enticing setting and were teated like royalty. What's not to love?

On their menu page it says:

"Find the Shortest, Simplest way between the Earth, the Hands and the Mouth."

Well said Figue. Well said.

No question, we'll be back!

I hope you enjoyed this post and review. If you are in the Palm Springs area, please share this post with others. We need to get the word out about this great restaurant and encourage other restaurateurs that we are ready for really good, fresh and sustainable food in this area and that accommodating people like us vegans is really worth their while.

Ps: I am not only a health food enthusiast and blog writer, I am an interior designer and owner of Indigo Skies Design. If you would like to contact me about design work, you can reach me through the email of this blog. Thank you.

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  1. Thanks for the wonderful comments! I look forward to creating something even better for you next time! ~ Chef Francois

    1. What a treat! You are most welcome and thanks for your comment Chef. Look forward to it. :)

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  3. Awesome feature, Jodi. I posted it to the Figue Facebook page as well as my company's. You really caught the essence of Figue. Loved everything about your story. You obviously have great taste and a great eye. Love the photos too. Bon appetit! Cindy Kurman

    1. Thank you Cindy. And thank you for the nice intro to the post as well.

  4. Thank you for this review! We will be celebrating a birthday and Mother's Day in the area this weekend and this sounds like just the spot!

    1. Thank you Ceci. Perfect spot for both! Plus I noticed they have a special brunch menu planned for Mother's Day. Enjoy!

  5. Such an excellent article! I need to eat there asap! Beautiful pics and btw I love the blog so much!!! Hugs, Marjorie

  6. Thanks Marjorie! You would love this place! Mother's Day is just a round the corner… :-)

  7. Wow! That place looks amazing! I wish we had something like that here in Bozeman! Healthy but elegant! Loving your photos! You are definitely a natural! Great job!!!


    1. Thanks Melissa! It's been a long time coming for us too. So glad they arrived and with real style too. I want to go back and sit in every chair!