Fig & Olive Readies For An Early March Debut Inside The Galleria—Updated
Updated 2/22/2018, 10:37 a.m.: Statement added from Fig & Olive below.
March will roar in like a lion—and bring new restaurant Fig & Olive with it. It is slated to open in the former Saks Fifth Avenue space in The Galleria. It is the latest location for an upscale chain that already has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Chicago, and Washington D.C. It’s the first restaurant out-of-the-gate for the revamped western end of Houston’s long-time upscale mall; Nobu,
Toronto-based Indian-Asian concept Spice Route The Spice Route Company and Fox Restaurant Concepts’ Mexican street food brand Blanco Tacos + Tequila are joining it later in the year.
Updated, 2/22/2018, 3:47 p.m.: Although Fig & Olive’s press release listed details for Spice Route, a representative for The Spice Route Company (not based in Toronto) says that information isn’t correct. Official details are coming on that next month.
The menu of the 7,000 square foot restaurant will boast dishes and ingredients from the Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Spain and France. In fact, the restaurant will even sell the premium olive oils so diners can take a little of the experience home. Other ingredients set to make appearances on plates include raw zucchini with fruity picholine olive oil; kabocha squash with pickled mushrooms and pears; and burrata accented with dark drizzles of syrupy balsamic vinegar barrel-aged for 18 years.
Beyond that, Fig & Olive is promising “seasonally evolving lunch, brunch and dinner menus.” Composed dishes include the Fig & Olive special dressed crostini, salads, pasta, risotto, crudo, carpaccio and vegetables. Heartier entrées include whole branzino with rosemary, Spanish paella prepared the traditional way and sexy chateaubriand for two.
The drink side includes familiar classics with fresh fruit and vegetable twists, such as raspberry Mojitos and cucumber Cosmos. There’s also a Rossellini with passionfruit-infused vodka, blood orange juice and lime. A representative says there will be happy hour but details are still to come.
Other features include a 24-seat bar, 160 seats in the main dining room and two business-ready private dining rooms with top-of-the-line audio-visual capabilities.
Overseeing all Fig & Olive kitchens is corporate executive chef Timothy Hughes, but onsite in Houston is executive chef Thomas Laczynski, formerly of Fox Restaurant Concept’s True Food Kitchen in Austin. (There’s a Houston location just down Post Oak from The Galleria as well.)
Interestingly, the restaurant is also boasting about its soundtrack, an “expertly curated playlist orchestrated by the brand’s French-born in-house music director, Julien Malaguarnera Nolan.”
As reported by Eater Houston in conjunction with the new Houston opening, Fig & Olive was embroiled in controversies in 2015. First, it was busted for serving previously frozen food prepared at a central commissary (not uncommon for inexpensive restaurants but incongruous with “fine dining”) and then the Washington Post reported the Fig & Olive location in the D.C. area was linked to 70 cases of salmonella.
Update: A representative for Fig & Olive sent the below statement and also wrote, succinctly, “The team involved in the 2015 incident is actually no longer part of the Fig & Olive brand.”
“We at Fig & Olive learned a great deal from the events of 2015. Since then, we have invested significant resources to investigate and eradicate the issues, as well as implement and maintain best practices to guarantee the highest food safety and quality standards in every meal. With a new senior leadership team in place, each of our restaurants focuses relentlessly on ensuring the best possible guest experience and utilizing outstanding ingredients in all of our food. Our guests, including their experience, satisfaction and well-being, continue to be Fig & Olive’s top priority. We look forward to welcoming our guests to the new Houston Galleria location and invite you to visit one of our eight other locations in New York, California, Chicago and Washington, D.C.”
Via a press release, Christopher Lane, The Galleria’s Director of Marketing & Business Development, makes it clear that the new and forthcoming restaurants are part of an effort to maintain its image as a destination for fine dining and upscale shopping. “There is significant consumer demand for fine dining options, and The Galleria has seized the opportunity to be the first to welcome these exclusive culinary brands. The Galleria’s powerful leasing momentum continues to yield premier luxury retailers and restaurants – many of which are first to Houston and even to the State of Texas as a whole.”
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.