Figa belongs to a breed of restaurant that used to dominate the
On the face of it, size defines Figa. It’s a charming 20-seat bistro with lots of character. Happily there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Deliberately shabby chic and cozy, the dining room grows on you pretty quickly.
The kitchen is the first thing you see, an untainted stance located, where else, but in the middle of the dining room as a vantage point for the chefs to survey their guests.
I was also surprised to find a full bar, something that restaurants this size often can’t accommodate. There’s even a dedicated bartender who expertly shakes, rattles, and rolls his drinks to perfection. The wine list, though small, is well thought out and reasonable.
If I have any complaint about Figa it’s this: they don’t take reservations. This is a practice that works for a juice counter but not a full-service dining room. I’ve never understood why some restaurateurs instigate walk in trade especially in an establishment this size? Would any of us want friends to show up at our doorstep for dinner uninvited?
But I must admit that I’ve been there three times and I love it. In fact I had the best tofu ever—and I gag on the mere mention of tofu, but I’d eat this version anytime. Here they are little squares dusted with curry and swathed in a spicy orange soy glaze.
The chef-owner, Lee Farrington, has the usual route-to-success story: a love of cooking from an early age; a mix of such influences especially leaning against her Brazilian granny’s elbow in their
She studied at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan
I actually haven’t found many traces of Brazilian fare at Figa. There’s a lot of Asian-Middle-Eastern infusion like the Shrimp Patia,
The cumin dusted duck breast is superb. It reminds me of Krista Dejarlais’s version at Bresca, which is prepared with a fine spray from the Roman spice trade. Farrington doesn’t quite have the controlled style of Dejarlais’s technique. But here are two women chefs with outstanding talents: Desjarlais has already proven herself and Farrington is on the rise.
Farrington’s food is much more rustic, or, for lack of a better word, ethnic. Hearty dishes include a meatloaf made with Caldwell Farms beef and served with gutsy mashed potatoes. This dish must be
So might the grilled pork chop, a double thick and succulent chop with great flavor and tenderness served with simply sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.
Farrington seems to like mashed potatoes since they accompany many main courses. I love potatoes of any kind, so I’m not bothered by that. Any time I see an entrée accompanied by rice, I steer clear.
Desserts are simple, and I have to admit I’ve only tried one of them—that being the chocolate cake, which had a great dense texture and perfect frosting, showing off her
Sometimes I wonder if
Figa is a good addition to