A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to join a group of my favorite blogger babes for a little al fresco dining at one of my favorite restaurants, Fig & Olive. While I have to admit that I'm not always a fan of taking my meals outside (I'm such a heat and humidity wimp!), it was one of those perfect late summer nights in which the scorching heat had faded away with the afternoon hours and the patio was bathed in gorgeous soft light. Yes, as much as I can be a grump about spending too much time outside during the summer, even I have to admit that Fig & Olive's lovely ivy-lined patio is really the ideal setting for an aperitivo hour filled with fresh cocktails and yummy bites.
Open in Chicago since last summer, Fig & Olive showcases the cuisine of the coastal Mediterranean regions of France, Italy, and Spain. The concept behind the restaurant is to offer diners a unique space with an open-exhibition kitchen, expansive lounge area, and plenty of natural light that captures the essence of the French Riviera. As a nod to their name, the restaurant utilizes over thirty of its own signature olive oils in lieu of butter in their savory dishes; additionally, there are multiple fig offerings on the menu all year long (their figsw are grown especially for them in California!).
Before heading out onto the patio, I just had to stop by the atrium/bar area to admire the gorgeous towering two-story olive tree.
Their cozy patio offers a bird's eye view of the swanky Oak Street, as well as the inside main dining area (perfect for us who like a side of people-watching with our cocktails!).
We kicked off our evening with a round of summer cocktails; I started with the Cucumber Cosmo, made with organic cucumber Vodka, elderflower liqueur, cucumber puree, and fresh lime juice, served straight up. Oddly enough, I'm not a big fan of cucumbers on their own, but I *love* a good cucumber cocktail - Fig & Olive's refreshing version definitely hit the spot!
Amidst our cocktailing, the first round of small bites arrived at our table. Although I had been to Fig & Olive several times before, this was my first experience with their amazing Crostini offerings... as soon as I took the first bite, I immediately started kicking myself for previously overlooking these fantastic bites!
A few of my favorite crostini options included the Manchego, fig & Marcona almond, the mushroom, artichoke, truffle, scallion & Parmesan, the prosciutto, ricotta, fig, olive & walnut, and the pea, asparagus & ricotta lemon thyme. Trust me when I say that you cannot go wrong with any of their options!
After thoroughly devouring every last bite of the crostini, we moved on to another round of their summer cocktail options. For round two, I went with a slightly more complex drink, the Summer in Provence: gin, house made rosemary thyme syrup, muddled blackberries, and fresh lime juice.
Next we sampled what was my favorite dish of the entire evening (and there was definitely some stiff competition!): the Truffle Mushroom Croquettes. Made with cremini mushrooms, Parmesan, béchamel, and a truffle olive oil aioli, these little bites were straight up truffle HEAVEN! I seriously could have mowed through the entire dish (and probably a second) all on my own. *swoon*
We paired our croquettes with the light and perfectly plated Zucchini Carpaccio, made with lemon, pine nuts, Parmesan, and Arbequina olive oil.
For our final round of cocktails, I ordered the zingy Rossellini, made with passion fruit vodka, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, and fresh lime juice, served straight up. While I definitely enjoyed the previous two, this sweet and tart cocktail was my top pick of the evening.
Finally, we ended our get-together with several of Fig & Olive's delicious Tasting Plates; during the aperitivo hour (everyday from 4pm-7pm), guests who order a signature cocktail or wine by the glass get a tasting plate for free! I particularly enjoyed the Parmesan Manchego, fig jam, Marcona almond crostini, and Goat cheese Ayala.
A delicious ending to a lovely girls night!
On my way out the door, I just had to stop by to check out Fig & Olive's vast array of olive oils. Not only do the bottles make for a beautiful backdrop, there's also some unique flavor options, including the Leccino with green fruit, fresh grass, creamy artichoke & green banana, and the Coratino with florals, stone fruit & green apple.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Fig & Olive (and if you haven't already, this is a place you absolutely should add to your list!): 104 E. Oak Street, Chicago, IL.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.