The reviews we write on Bitches Who Brunch always describe our experience at a particular restaurant, on a particular day.
Our posts follow a structure: personal narrative, how we experienced the food, ambiance, and service on that particular occasion. We highlight any amazing dishes as well as the availability of things a Bitch needs: Is there bottomless? A patio? Doughnuts? Is it worth the money, the time, the journey?
Generally, our reviews fall in line with other online reviews, reader feedback, word-of-mouth and the opinions of friends and acquaintances. For instance, many of the restaurants that have received a C from the Bitches have three stars on Yelp. It’s rare that Tom Sietsema thinks a restaurant is phenomenal and we don’t agree.
It’s not scientific—it’s our opinion. (And thank you, dearest, for trusting our opinions.) Occasionally, we receive tweets or feedback from readers—angry, sometimes—that a restaurant was different than we experienced: The server was awful. They ran out of bacon.
That’s terrible—and I’m genuinely empathetic, as there’s little worse in my book than a bad brunch. Life is too short.
But, what am I going to do? Stay up all night worrying that our readers might have a different experience because some waitress was in a bad mood or because they changed the seasonal pancakes?
My anxiety is bad enough as it is—so I try not to let it keep me up at night.
But what about when you review a restaurant mere days before dozens of people get seriously ill? What do you do?
Honestly, I don’t know.
Over Labor Day weekend, more than 70 people became seriously ill after dining at Fig & Olive, a high-end restaurant that opened in CityCenterDC earlier this year. I found the news both frightening and concerning.
As someone who is incredibly unlucky with regular bouts of food poisoning, I am so, so empathetic—because I can acutely remember the last time I felt so sick I thought I might die. It’s also a PR nightmare—I am sympathetic to the people who work at Fig & Olive; they didn’t cause this, but have to suffer the consequences.
It’s a horrible situation all around, particularly for those who were ill. This review, however, is about my experience the weekend prior, which was a lovely experience, and it speaks to that and nothing else. And I do hope that whatever it is that is causing all the poison, is promptly being taken care of.
Because I liked Fig & Olive. And Becca loves it in New York, too.
So, where to begin? The last weekend of August—it was a spectacularly beautiful day—I was joined by Ana Claudia and Joelle, the ladies behind Olivia Macaron, my favorite patisserie in Georgetown.
I was immediately charmed by the restaurant. The build out is beautiful, with a modern bar area and coastal nooks and comfy seating around the perimeter. The space is bright, light, and airy. With its high ceilings and beautiful glass bar, the space is posh without being gaudy. And, on this particular morning, it was buzzing with beautiful people. It has clearly become a spot.
It was also the day of the arrival of Veuve Clicquot Mail—so the patio was decorated in the champagne brand’s signature yellow. Yellow umbrellas on the patio, as well as yellow vespas with cases of Veuve on the back, and plenty of swag—fans, sunglasses, and cups—for patrons.
We began with absolutely beautiful cocktails. Joelle had a Blood Orange Bellini, while Ana Claudia had an Americano, a cocktail made with Campari, Vermouth, and served in a martini glass with an orange twist. I went off my usual beaten path with the Piscine, a classic cocktail from the South of France sparkling wine served on ice with fresh strawberries. It was beautiful—and strong!
Our appetizers knocked it out of the park. First, the heirloom and Burrata summer salad, with fig and basil. What made this salad exceptional–beyond the burrata, was the freshness and quality of the ingredients as well as the Balsamic, which was the aged, sweet Balsamic you find in a great Italian restaurant.
The second appetizer was an amalgamation of delicious things: proscuitto, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, figs, tomatoes, and arugula, all enveloped in a puff pastry. Decorated with a sprig of rosemary, this tartlet was clearly making a statement.
Joelle chose the French toast for her entree. The sweet dish comprised house-made brioche bread topped with a strawberry rhubarb compote and vanilla whipped cream. It was topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries.
Ana Claudia selected the poached eggs and salmon, served on toasted white bread, alongside a cured salmon cream cheese ricotta, pimentón spread, avocado, cilantro dill, and tomato. It also included a traditional mesclun salad.
After scanning the menu, I knew immediately that I’d be enjoying the dish with truffles and mushrooms. Served in a skillet, these scrambled eggs had cremini and black trumpet mushrooms with fontina cheese, scallions, and marscapone. It was delicious and satisfying—and packed with my favorite flavors.
We also sampled the granola, which was loaded with fresh berries–I’m a sucker for fresh berries. The granola and berries were served dry, with Greek yogurt and a sprig of mint alongside. It was a nice presentation with fresh ingredients of a standard healthy dish.
This was a three-hour, delightful, gluttonous brunch, wherein we sat on the patio in our yellow Veuve sunnies, drank champagne, enjoyed appetizers and entrees and, eventually, ordered four desserts!
We decided to share the créme brûlée and pot du creme—but they actually brought out three individual pot du cremes. Oy vey. We were full.
At first, the pot du creme’s presentation was confusing, as it was totally white. But, once you dove in, your spoon was met with a dense, rich chocolate pudding. The small square of crunchy praline was the perfect accoutrement to the dish, adding texture and flavor to the otherwise smooth chocolate.
The Lavender créme brûlée was out of this world, served with vanilla ice cream and thyme shortbread. I didn’t bother with anything but the brûlée, there was no need to do so.
The Bitches say: A. We had a delightful, delicious experience at the posh Fig & Olive. Once it’s cleared for Salmonella-free business again, we’d take our chances and go back again.
Fig & Olive
Fig & Olive serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.