The much-anticipated new restaurant, Figue Mediterranean, is scheduled to open at 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 26. Located at 47-474 Washington Street in La Quinta, CA (telephone: 760-698-9040; website eatfigue.com), Figue (the name rhymes with "intrigue") is the brainchild of noted restaurateur Lee Morcus. Figue is a stylish and casual fine dining gathering place that celebrates, through its food, wine and ambiance, the colorful and lively cuisine and cultural melting pot that characterize the Mediterranean region.
"We are truly excited about bringing the Figue experience to La Quinta," said Morcus. "From the gracious welcome our guests receive at the front desk, through to the last, lingering bite of a seductive dessert, 'sharing' is the thread that unifies the Figue experience. It's about finest quality of atmosphere, service, ingredients, flavors, textures and the senses. Come visit us and enjoy a quartino of wine, delight in the enticing aromas of our vibrant food, served with loving detail on colorful plates, and sit at one of our long sharing tables where you can make new friends. Figue is the place for celebrating life together. Our goal is that Figue will be quickly known as one of the best new restaurants in the country."
Heading the culinary team is Executive Chef François de Mélogue, who has earned a stellar reputation for his skill as a chef and as a culinary historian. De Mélogue is a personable and seasoned chef who has great appreciation for the fusion of great flavors that emanate from the Mediterranean region. He has earned acclaim at such restaurants as the Relais & Chateaux-designated Old Drovers Inn in New York, the Bakery and Pili.Pili in Chicago and Joel Robuchon's Gastronomie restaurant in Paris. The American-born chef was born to French parents, grew up in the United States and spent his summers with his extended family in Marseilles, France.
Figue is an inspired blend of the casual and the sophisticated; the old and timeless classic melds with fresh, new and modern. The vision for the restaurant is to offer guests a relaxing yet visually stimulating experience that sets the stage for the colorful and intoxicating food found in the Mediterranean part of the world. "The Mediterranean region has, for millennia, been the world's most important trade route and, historically, it evolved as a melting pot of cultures," said de Mélogue. "The food reflects many flavors and ingredients from all sides of the Mediterranean: the European side, the Middle Eastern side and the North African side. Here you'll find food that has its roots in Spain, France, Provence, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Morocco, combined in unique and unforgettable ways. Having spent my summers in Marseilles, which is on the Mediterranean coast of France, I experienced the joy and sensuality of this food from the time I was a young boy. I am so pleased to offer my interpretations of Global Mediterranean to the people of the Coachella Valley and from around the country. I'm confident that our guests will enjoy the adventure. It will be fun and memorable."
The design and décor of Figue will be as intriguing as the food. The unique building combines the design feelings of today with the rich history of the Mediterranean, allowing guests to experience everything the Mediterranean has to offer. The restaurant is comfortable and casual with plenty of artistic interest. Visual contrasts are everywhere in the restaurant, most noticeably in the whimsical explosion of light fixtures in contrasting styles that hang in random patterns throughout the large dining room. The signature eye-catcher is the huge wood sculpture that greets guests at the entrance, its weathered organic form contrasting with the refinement of nearby Carerra marble counters and Pistaccio onyx.
The space, designed in collaboration with Thomas Schoos, is a blend of environments to accommodate diners with different needs and preferences, depending on the occasion. There are areas that encourage socializing and mingling, such as the lounges and sharing tables, or more private spots for intimate conversation. There are cozy indoor areas and breezy outdoor rooms that make the most of the stunning view of the desert and mountains, and areas for private groups and catered events.
The exterior has been landscaped to include three 150 year old ancient Sevillano olive trees, lavender fields, citrus trees, and figs, as well as organic herbs, all grown on site for use in the restaurant.
Figue's cuisine offers an enchanting culinary adventure
Everything on the menu is designed to be shared; the sense of community is a part of what makes Mediterranean style so inviting. The menu is organized in six sections; Salumi and Cured Meats, Small Dishes, Soup, Salads & Pasta, Big Plates, Sides, and Desserts. Everything is made from scratch using the finest and freshest ingredients.
The journey begins with generous tastings of Salumi and Cured Meats. Guests can choose from Jamón Ibérico de Bellota -- 5 year Iberico Ham served with Alain Milliat Green Tomato Jam ($32) or a Selection of Salumi and Cured Meats, served with house made pickles and Figue Jam (small $18, medium, $25, large $32). Meat selections include 18-Month San Daniele Prosciutto, Fra Mani Mortadella, Meat Men 'Spicy Chorizo', Meat Men 'Juicy Scandal' Soppressata, Fermin Lomo de Bellota, Salametto Piccante, Creminelli Wild Boar Salumi, Boccalone Capocollo and Berber Speced Chicken Liver Mousse.
The Small Dishes are numerous and mouthwatering, representing a myriad of regional Mediterranean influences. Choices include Syrian Mountain Bread with House Made Labne, Red Chilies, Green Onions and Leeks ($7); Griddled Foccacia with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan ($6); Artichoke Tart Tatin with Caramelized Fennel and Onion, Goat Cheese, and Olive Emulsion ($16); Figue, Black Truffle and Speck Pizza with Wild Baby Arugula and Mozzarella ($19); Charred Ahi Tuni with Tangerine Lace Microgreens, Oranges, Garlic Chips and Charmoula Vinaigrette ($16); Hamachi Crudo with Slow Cooked Tomatoes, Cucumber Microgreens, Carrot Oil and Heliodor Olive Oil ($16); Wood Grilled Octopus with Fennel, Red Pepper, Potato, and Olive Salad ($19); Brûlee Doights with Burnt Fingers, Fried Calamari, Shrimp, Vegetables and Rouille ($14); Lobster Bocadillo, Mediterranean Lobster Roll, Tomato, Lettuce, and Rouille ($20); Kibbé, Lebanese Lamb and Bulgur Wheat Meatballs, Cucumber Salad, Hummus ($14).
Salad aficionados will savor Chef de Melogue's choices. Selections include the Mediterrano Salad, with Feta Cheese, Red Onion, Roasted Peppers, Olives, Date Leather and Salad Greens ($9); White Salad with Shaved Fennel, Baby Arugula, Aged Parmesan, Olive Oil, and Giuseppe Giusti Balsamic ($8); Calamari & Radicchio Salad with Plancha Calamari, Radicchio, Basil, Lorenzo #5 and Charred Lemons ($12); Asparagus Salad with 63 degree Egg, Parmesan Fonduta, Crispy Speck and Baby Frisée ($14).
Pasta specialties (all pasta is freshly made in-house) include Linguini AOP, Garlic, EVOO, Crushed Red Peppers, San Marzano Tomato Sauce ($18); Fideuà, Rustic Catalan Pasta Paella, Lobster, Clams, Shrimp and Aioli ($33); Tagliatelle Al Prosciutto E Fichi, Hand Rolled Tagliatelle, Prosciutto, Conserved Figs and EVOO ($28); and Gnocchi Tocco di Carne, Potato Dumplings, San Marzano Tomato in Pork & Porcini Sauce ($19).
A meal at Figue comes to a crescendo with the Big Plates, also quite shareable. Selections include Crispy St. Pierre, John Dory, Eggplant Confite, Chorizo, Red Peppers and Sun Dried Tomato ($32); Loup de Mer, Mediterranean Sea Bass, Swiss Chard, Tomato Confite, Roast Garlic and Saffron Jus ($29); Whole Roasted Duarade, Roasted Sea Bream, Artichoke and Fennel Barigoule and Olive Tapenado ($35); Bourride, Provençale Seafood Stew, St. Pierre, Scallops, Mussels, Clams, Saffron Orange Brodo and Rouille ($33); Chicken Tagine, Spit Roasted Jidori Chicken, Preserved Lemon, Ratatouille and Chickpea Frites ($22); Porchetta, Wood Rotisserie Fired Suckling Pig, Pigue Newton and Potato Puree ($32); Elysian Fields Lamb with Potatoes Vesuvio, Broccoli Rabe and Barbera Aglio e Peperoncino Olive Oil (market price); Provencale Beef Daube, Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks, Orange and Olive Ragu and Saffron Risotto ($27); Filet of Beef with Potato Puree, Moroccan Carrots and Cabernet Shallot Reduction ($38).
Side Dishes ($8) to accompany the meal include Polenta Gratin, Creamy Polenta, Gruyere, San Marzano Tomato Sauce and Fried Basil; Moroccan Carrots, Glazed Baby Carrots, Toasted Cumin, and Orange Butter; Ratatouille, Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onions and Basil; Beans in a Flask, Wood Roasted Cannellini Beans, Aromatic Herbs and Prosciutto.
The adventure concludes with a kaleidoscope of dazzling desserts, including Barcelona Liégeois, Iced Espresso with Chocolate Sorbet, Marcona Almonds and Salted Caramel; Pistachio Olive Oil and Fig Cake, with 'Spice Road Caravan' Figs and Pomegranate Sorbet; Citrus Yogurt Panna Cotta, with Citrus Labne, Apricots and Turkish Fairy Floss; M'Hanncha, Coiled Moroccan Baklava, Pistachio Ice Cream and Orange Sauce; Maman's Warm Apple Tart, with Caramelized Apples and Vanilla Bean Sauce; Turkish Chocolate Coffee Pave and Crunchy Milk Chocolate 'Candy Bar'; Marcona Chocolate Bombe with Valrhona Chocolate Mousse and Toasted Almonds.
Designed by Sommelier Celeste Cotta CSW, Figue has assembled an extensive list of wines and specialty cocktails from around the Mediterranean world, representing both Old World and New World styles with special emphasis on Champagnes and Sparkling wines and cocktails. The noteworthy wine varietals from throughout the region dance throughout the eclectic wine list.The list is shown on iPads so guests may learn as much as they like about specific wines and beverages. "Wine and spirits are an essential part of the convivial Mediterranean dining experience and so we created a collection of fun, approachable and unique choices that go exceedingly well with the fascinating food," said Cotta.
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