Figs Fine Foods Cafe

Written by on July 12, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Palisade neighborhood, Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: My friend and housemate, Andra called me up and asked me to join her for lunch. She drove us the two miles across the Chain Bridge and into DC, where this hole-in-the-wall could be found…If you know where it is. Her cousin, Langdon, first introduced her to Figs, and I already know it is going to be a spot to which I return…time, and again!

Food Display 1

Type of cuisine: Simple. Real. Food. The Middle Eastern way. “Not your traditional Lebanese restaurant, Figs offers a wide selection of healthy comfort foods adapted from a variety of international cuisines.  Reem Azoury, a Lebanese American, opened the restaurant in 2005 with the aim of sharing the delicious Lebanese dishes she watched her grandmother cook as a child.  She also wanted to make room for the British cuisine she fell in love with while attending boarding school in London, the Mediterranean foods she enjoyed on her travels, and the eclectic approach to cooking she developed in the United States.  Figs cuisine reflects Reem’s international background while also focusing on healthy, vegetarian options.”

Food Display 2

Ambiance: Eclectic with the comfort of home, an easy space to partake of lunch at the bar/counter, or enjoy a bite on the patio outside, sit at the red, peanut-shaped table against bench-seating with chair cushions hanging as back rests, or take your order to go.

Figs Red Seats

The options are endless at Figs. “A home away from home, Figs is a comfortable, friendly place to sit down alone or with friends and enjoy the warmth of the staff and savor the ingredients of a home cook meal.  From the moment you step into this little hide-away on MacArthur Blvd, you will want to come back again and again.  Come in for a bowl of Reem’s gourmet soup and flip through her favorite collection of cookbooks, read a newspaper, sign up for a cooking class or, better yet, have a feast!” Coming in from MacArthur Street, passing by two tables, on your left, with umbrellas overhead, heading down a set of six, brick steps, you may finally noticed the small blue overhang that reads simply: FIGS. To your right, before entering the floor-to-ceiling glass doors, is an old, retro-looking blue scale, the rock placed on it, in purple, green, fuchsia and yellow marker reading: Figs. Enter, and the first thing that captures your attention is the bright colored walls – in mint green and bright blue! Framed and matted photographs on the walls capture moments from the life of Reem and her family, her daughter, her son (who offered us drinks and served us, as well took our payments on the way out) and others. A chalkboard lists the daily selection of Figs’ Specials, including salads, sandwiches and vegan options. An array of children’s books, cookbooks and a handful of board games (such as Clue) in baskets and plastic tubs are available for patrons to flip through or take off of the shelf in order to keep themselves entertained while they eat, socialize, or take a respite away from the daily grind. Just ahead of the chalkboard, found to the right on the angled wall just as you walk in the doors at Fig, hovers above a red, peanut-shaped table and rounded, wooden bench for seating. Metallic-striped pillows line the bench for more comfort, while red pillows (chair cushions turned back-rests) hang from hooks on the wall, intended to create a more suitable seating area. One, lone, black, square-shaped stool with white cartoon-leaf designs sits opposite. Directly opposite is another bench with mismatched pillows and blue chair-cushions stuck to the walls via round, silver hooks. The black and metal-legged table just in front holds what resembles a child’s home-made vase in green, with blue stripes, matching perfectly the walls and decor of the establishment. Red yard artfully and comfortably wrap around two small stools, which create more seating options on the opposite end of the tables. The cash register is just ahead of the left seating area, which includes a corkboard of greeting cards, photographs and other notes, licenses, permits. The opposite end of the register counter hosting a square-shaped plate with packets of Chicklets gum. Looking back, the expanse of rectangular space continues into the kitchen, where Reem and her colleague, Khadija, are preparing foods and plating your selections. a brown, laminated wooden bar/counter top are available with black and metal, low-backed stools for bar-seating. Down the square-tiled floor towards the back, one finds the array of gorgeous eats awaiting her. Tagine pots, a plastic rooster and large fridge at the back work their way around, to the right side of the establishment, where a table is set up for take-away soup and bowls, a large wooden table for cutting one of the four, piled-high stacks of barbari (bread), and a red cooler of beverages to choose from. Green- and blue-backed plastic chairs with red-, orange- and cream-colored chair cushions sit snugly against metallic diner-style tables, intended for pairs of customers to enjoy their meals. Spanish music plays gently in the background as patrons chat up a storm, while slowly savoring every bite of delicious food prepared at home.

Food Display 3

What I ordered: I ordered combination platter, which includes three items ($4 more for each additional item) from the grand display case tempting your taste-buds and causing your eyes to protrude from your head! While I was excited about nearly everything in front of me, four things immediately caught my attention: the turkey meatballs in a thick tomato sauce, a chick-pea and lentil salad with fresh parsley, lemon juice and olive oil, roasted Brussels sprouts, blackened from the oven for taste and melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the cooked spinach with whole cloves of garlic. I knew I had to have the Brussels sprouts, and when I told Reem my dilemma between the others, she recommended the turkey meatballs and the chick-pea salad, “It’s really good!” as she exclaimed, with a huge smile on her face. The three selections were warmed and served to me in white, ramekin dishes, two small ones for the sides and a larger one for the meatballs, all placed onto a white plate. Her son offered me silverware (a fork and knife), a napkin and a class of water.

Figs for Me

My dining companion, ordered the TBA sandwich ($9), turkey, brie and avocado, with pesto mayo and fig jam, served on barbari (bread).

Figs for Andra

On the side, she selected a Sprecher’s Cream Soda, and a small container of babaganush (eggplant dip with tahini) to take home.

What I loved: I am always a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, and the roasted variety all the more enjoyable! The chick-pea and lentil salad, light and flavorful, without feeling heavy or weighed down after eating it was beautifully prepared and deliciously served. The turkey meatballs, however, won my vote! Juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness, with the light tomato sauce prepared with onions and fresh herbs. The entire meal was a combination worth returning for and highly recommended!

Why I loved it: I love the cozy feel of the space, the quaint neighborhood setting (resembling the Madison Park area in Seattle, Washington), the friendly family cooking for and serving us. I loved the food, the flavors, the simplicity. I love the eclectic, somewhat kitsch decor and the beauty of family moments caught on film and displayed candidly for everyone to see. Overall, I give the place two thumbs up!

Cost: Average to high ($9-$16 per lunch-sized entree)

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