Breakups and Makeups

29 Oct

I must admit that I’m a stubborn person by nature. I used to have a difficult time admitting that I was ever wrong and it would take virtually forever for me to back down from an argument. As trite as it sounds, I have learned from my teenage angst period that an 18 year old cannot possibly be as socially aware as he or she assumes. Now that I’m the ripe old age of 23, I’ve learned a few things:

1. Having high standards should never be overrated.
2. Life is too short to waste your time.
3. Live every day in spectacular fashion.
4. When you are in control of the outcome, there is no excuse for not getting exactly what you want.
Spoken like someone that just ended a relationship. Imagine that.
Let me segue into the whole purpose of my post today, my darlings. About 1.5 years ago, I dined at FIG. This was probably around the time that Mike Lata won his coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast. I just had to see what all the hoopla was about. Unfortunately, the outcome of that evening was that I walked away marginally unimpressed. Our server was somewhat rude to Patty, correcting her about something that Patty was actually right about. It came across as condescending. I come from a family that values service very highly and for us to be the the recipients of insulting remarks from someone that we were expected to tip was, for lack of a better word, odd. I had written them off as pretentious and overrated. I had very little intentions of returning in the near future.
Several weeks ago, the mood struck me that I wanted to give them a second shot. I have a tendency to give places that I know to have fabulous reputations multiple chances to wow me. It happens.
Such was the case for FIG.
I will remark immediately that the service was markedly better than all of my previous experiences at FIG. Every employee in the dining room that we encountered, right down to the server’s assistant that refilled our water no less than 6 times, was appropriately enthusiastic, professional, and sincere. This combination is truly the trifecta of outstanding service. Our server was absolutely adorable from start to finish. He was so excited about every single dish on the menu, so much so that he insisted I get the trotters to start out with. This was something he said he had eaten the first 10 times that he dined at FIG before he worked there. That is someone who clearly knows what he’s talking about. Speaking of the trotters:

Apologies for the graininess of the photos, y’all. Their dining room is not adequately lit for picture taking which is really fine. As long as I describe the food to you appropriately. The perfectly sunny side up egg was fresh and glorious; immediately I broke the yolk to let the flavors meld together in the harmony in which they were meant to be tasted. Eggs really do make almost anything better. Those fools that order egg whites only don’t know what they’re missing. 
So the trotters were the shared appetizer. We decided that it would be appropriate to go balls to the proverbial wall and ordered an appetizer and entree each in addition to the shared app. My companion got the cheese plate:
Pretty damn. I mean it was a cheese plate and how super creative can you be? I personally order cheese plates almost exclusively for post dinner snackage because I don’t like getting loaded up on cheese before my meal. So I went for something that is obviously light and airy:
The chicken liver pate. Oh my sweet baby Jesus. Without a doubt the BEST pate I have EVER had. With no exceptions. I ate that entire loaf. I’m not proud of it. It was this perfect velvety treat that I didn’t want to end. Most people I know have an aversion to the texture and to be honest, I feel you. It’s obscure. Had I not first been exposed to it when I was younger as a breakfast item in Austria, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I now do. I am in love with all forms of charcuterie as a result of being force fed exotic foods as a child, something I greatly thank Patty and Mike for. So that being said, if you have an appreciation for various random charcuterie items such as pate, terrine, confit, etc, do yourself a favor and please for the love of all things meat go at eat this pate at FIG if it’s the last thing you do. 
My love affair is now well documented. 
The entrees. I went a little crazy on a trotters and pate kick so I decided to turn down the speakers from 11 by ordering grouper for my main course. 
But y’all know me, I couldn’t do just fish for any course. That bed of Carolina Gold rice upon which rests my delicious grouper filet is chock full o’pancetta and local corn. Apparently, this is a signature dish of Chef Lata’s and with good reason. It was unbelievable. Absolutely not a let down after my glorious pate; I was simply in a food coma that I was in no mood to be revived of.
Oh, and of course my companion’s triggerfish was fabulous as well:
I loved the bright splashes of green on the plate. I was perfectly warranted when paired with such a delicate, flaky local fish. It was bright, crisp, and summery. I almost liked it as much as my own dish. Almost. 
The sentiments I feel toward FIG have blossomed from apathetic to adoring as a result of one glorious dining experience. I can say with unwavering conviction that Mike Lata has not only set the bar impossibly high for restaurants in the Charleston area, but that he is arguably created a restaurant Mecca that spans a captive nationwide audience. FIG is one of the few restaurants that doesn’t just live up to the enormous amount of hype that surrounds it. They crush it. They are an absolute must go experience, my words do not do them the justice they deserve. 
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