Fig & Olive’s arrival at CityCenterDC seems perfectly timed with summer, with its bright, airy dining rooms, spacious patio — the largest in the tony development — and its menu of crisp, clean dishes that take on even the swampiest of D.C. days.
The restaurant, the eighth nationwide from founder Laurent Halasz, opens Friday in what marketing director Ludovic Barras has jokingly started referring to as “the French quarter” — across from Chef Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar, not to mention the Hermes boutique, and soon, stores from Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, both of which are currently under construction.
The 10,000-square-foot space comprises two levels, with the majority of the lower level taken up by a bar and a lounge with softer, lower-slung seating.
Olive oil is at the heart of what Fig & Olive does — the restaurant is inspired by Halasz’s mother and his hometown of Mougins, France — and leads off every meal. More than two dozen varieties are also available for sale in a small shop on the second floor.
This week, representatives from olive oil producers in Spain and Italy are on site, training dozens of servers in the nuances of the different oils, everything from the sweetest, most buttery oil to the much greener, more peppery-tasting varieties.
This focus on the healthier fat, rather than butter, makes Fig & Olive extremely popular with women in New York and Los Angeles, said Barras. More than 65 percent of the restaurant’s customers are female, and the brand looks for locations in high-end shopping destinations.
“We want to be in very elegant locations,” Barras said. The space’s walls of windows on the second floor, and high ceilings on two levels, also sealed the deal.
“We’re trying to bring back that feeling of Mougins,” he added.
Fig & Olive’s menu includes a dozen different types of crostini, all of which are prepared in the open at a crostini bar on the ground floor. Entrees range from pasta, such as a spring vegetable fettuccine, all the way up to a whole branzino or chateaubriand for two served tableside.
The spot is in line with most of CityCenterDC’s other offerings, with appetizers ranging from $10 to $18 and entrees ranging from $19 for a spring vegetable pasta to $54 per person for the cote de boeuf for two.
The opening of the restaurant will also bring something that CityCenterDC has been lacking: a little bit of nightlife. Fig & Olive has a deejay in the lounge on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and a consulting deejay from France is training locals in the lounge’s preferred music aesthetic.
The restaurant will initially open for dinner, with lunch service starting July 6 and brunch service July 11. Brunch fans should keep their eye out for the restaurant’s popular Bloody Mary cart, an idea they launched in Los Angeles that Barras hopes to bring to D.C. as well.