Food

5 Things to Look for at CityCenterDC’s Chic Newcomer: Fig & Olive

A crostini bar, free aperitivo hour, and a patio inspired by Cannes.
Fig & Olive brings a taste of southern France to CityCenterDC. Photography by Jeff Elkins.

CityCenterDC gets a chic newcomer with the arrival of Fig & Olive, a glamorous 330-seat inspired by Southern France. The Washington location is the eighth for owner Laurent Halasz, with other branches in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Dinner service begins today, with lunch to follow on Monday, July 6 and weekend brunch starting on Saturday, July 11. Here’s what to look for when you go.

The entry-level bar/lounge boasts a 30-seat marble bar, couches laden with comfy pillows, and a DJ.


A full-time rosemary “mister”

The airy, two-story space is designed to look like a restaurant in southern France, and does the job well: the place feels pulled from Cannes with its terra-cotta ceilings, pristine marble bar, and DJ spinning relaxed beats in the lounge. The most transportive aspect is the smell emanating from a wall of rosemary plants in the second-floor dining room. The herbs require regular misting with a spray bottle and pruning to keep fresh, though the high-maintenance vegetation isn’t purely decoration: rosemary seasons whole branzino, flavors roast chicken, and crusts lamb chops that are smoked a la minute at the table.

Pick from over ten varieties of crostini, toasty focaccia breads topped with vegetables, meats, cheeses, and seafood.


A raw bar and a crostini bar

Chefs work behind a portion of the ground floor’s 30-seat bar, plating shellfish plateaus heaped with oysters, clams, king crab legs, and shrimp cocktail. Order a tower, or check out the crostini bar display next to the fin fare. Toasty focaccia breads come topped with 11 combinations like fig, prosciutto, and ricotta cheese, or crab and heirloom tomato.

A second floor dining room is flanked by a bar and rosemary garden.


Abundant olive oils

Anyone following the Mediterranean Diet will feel at home. Chef Frederic Guerin eschews butter for olive oil, and drizzles 30 varieties from across the globe on almost every dish—including green apple sorbet, which arrives with a dash of fruity Spanish oil, and in typically butter-heavy sauce béarnaise. Each meal begins with a sampling of three varieties, brought to the table with complimentary fresh bread. Guests can also purchase the Fig & Olive brand oils to take home.

The fig and gorgonzola tartlet with prosciutto and arugula is one of the restaurant’s signatures.


Free cheese

The kitchen’s emphasis on healthy fats doesn’t mean the menu lacks indulgences. Happy “aperitivo” hour includes a complimentary tasting plate with the purchase of any glass of wine or cocktail, like the strawberry-Champagne Piscine. Three platter options include a French, Italian, or Spanish-themed variety of snacks; we like the idea of a Francophile mix of goat cheese, shrimp and avocado-topped crostini, beef tartare, and olives. More of a high-roller than deal-hunter? Try a luxurious côte de boeuf served table-side. The bone-in ribeye is carved for $49 per person and sauced with short rib jus.

Comfy seating ranges from banquettes set with colorful pillows to teakwood furniture on the patio.


French patio space

A 40-seat terrace is designed to mirror lunch in Cannes, with teakwood furniture, an orange-and-white color scheme, and aromatic rosemary and cypress planters. Windows open into the first-floor lounge on pleasant days for an indoor/outdoor feel. The surrounding CityCenterDC landscape may not live up to the Mediterranean, but at least there’re fountains—or for the fashionistas, a giant Hermès directly across the way.

Fig & Olive. 934 Palmer Alley, Northwest; 202-559-5004. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday, 11 to 11; Friday and Saturday 11 to 1. Lunch (beginning July 6), Monday through Friday, 11 to 4. Brunch (beginning July 11), Saturday and Sunday 11 to 4.

Order a Piscine cocktail during happy hour–Champagne and strawberries–and get a complimentary plate of cheese and crostini.

A raw bar serves shellfish plateaus, tuna carpaccio, and salmon crudo.

The White Room can fit 70 for private events, or seats regular diners on busy evenings.

Almost every dish is accented with olive oil, including this green apple sorbet with citrus.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.