In case you were wondering how the restaurant Fig & Olive got its name, there are figs and olives on everything, even at this time of year, when figs are as far out of season as pumpkins: figs with gorgonzola on a soggy puff-pastry tart; figs in a romaine salad with walnuts and apples; figs recumbent on the couscous under the lamb kebabs; fig jam on toast with manchego cheese. The branzino? Glazed with figs and old balsamic. Here for brunch? Pancakes and figs. Fold in the cheerful mounds of olives, the plentiful tapenade and three kinds of olive oil that come with the bread, and you pretty much get the idea of the place. Somebody had a great week once in Provence, and wants the Meatpacking District — and the swingers at the Melrose Place sequel — to be as happy as he or she was.
Los Angeles has seen this sort of thing before: a clubby, light-washed restaurant, too big to be truly exclusive, decorated with gleaming jugs and divided by stands of herbs in the sorts of locations where your great-aunt, the one who still lives in the Paul Williams pad she commissioned as a young married, still maintains her dwarf bamboo. The staff is all soap opera-stunning, even the stud who parks your car. The air itself vibrates with rosemary and garlic. When the waiter recommends the scallops with artichokes, the marzipan cake or the crostini with shaved mushrooms and truffle oil, he does so with the conspiratorial air of a dude setting you up with the second-hottest girl he knows.