The much-anticipated new restaurant, Figue Mediterranean, has opened in the Palm Springs area. Located at 47-474 Washington Street in La Quinta, California (telephone: 760-698-9040; website eatfigue.com), Figue (the name rhymes with "intrigue") is the brainchild of noted restaurateur Lee Morcus. Figue brings a new dining experience to the desert. It's sophisticated and urban, giving diners a stylish and casual fine dining gathering place that celebrates, through its food, wine, and ambiance, the colorful and lively cuisine and cultural melting pot that characterize the Mediterranean region.
"We are truly excited about bringing the Figue experience to La Quinta," Morcus says. "From the gracious welcome our guests receive at the front desk, through to the last, lingering bite of a seductive dessert, 'sharing' is the thread that unifies the Figue experience. It's about finest quality of atmosphere, service, ingredients, flavors, textures and the senses. Come visit us and enjoy a quartino of wine, delight in the enticing aromas of our vibrant food, served with loving detail on colorful plates, and sit at one of our long sharing tables where you can make new friends. Figue is the place for enjoying life together. Our goal is that Figue will be quickly known as one of the best new restaurants in the country."
Heading the culinary team is executive chef François de Mélogue, who has earned a stellar reputation for his skill as a chef and as a culinary historian. De Mélogue is a personable and seasoned chef who has great appreciation for the fusion of great flavors that emanate from the Mediterranean region. He has earned acclaim at such restaurants as the Relais & Chateaux-designated Old Drovers Inn in New York, the Bakery and Pili.Pili in Chicago and Joel Robuchon's Gastronomie restaurant in Paris.
The American-born chef was born to French parents, grew up in the United States and spent his summers with his extended family in Marseilles, France. Figue is an inspired blend of the casual and the sophisticated; the old and timeless classic melds with fresh, new and modern. The vision for the restaurant is to offer guests a relaxing yet visually stimulating experience that sets the stage for the colorful and intoxicating food found in the Mediterranean part of the world.
"The Mediterranean region has, for millennia, been the world's most important trade route and, historically, it evolved as a melting pot of cultures," de Mélogue says. "The food reflects many flavors and ingredients from all sides of the Mediterranean: the European side, the Middle Eastern side and the North African side." Here you'll find food that has its roots in Spain, France, Provence, Italy, Greece, Lebanon (Morcus is Lebanese), Cyprus and Morocco, combined in unique and unforgettable ways.
"Having spent my summers in Marseilles, which is on the Mediterranean coast of France, I experienced the joy and sensuality of this food from the time I was a young boy," de Mélogue says. "I am so pleased to offer my interpretations of Global Mediterranean to the people of the Coachella Valley and from around the country. I'm confident that our guests will enjoy the adventure. It will be fun and memorable.
The design and décor of Figue is as intriguing as the food. Designed by Thomas Schoos of Thomas Schoos Design, the restaurant has a sleek, contemporary feel that draws on the "mid-century modern" style made famous by nearby Palm Springs, but updated with an eclectic vision and casual attitude that makes use of natural materials and furnishings that add a soft, rustic look one would associate with the Mediterranean region. The restaurant is comfortable and casual with plenty of artistic interest. Visual contrasts are everywhere in the restaurant, most noticeably in the whimsical explosion of light fixtures in contrasting styles that hang in random patterns throughout the large dining room. Signature eye-catchers include large custom made slab Acacia Wood Sharing Tables and the huge wood sculpture complex that greets guests at the entrance, its weathered organic form contrasting with the refinement of nearby Carerra marble and Pistaccio onyx.
The designers liken the restaurant to a living experience; there is an ebb and flow and little pockets of coziness are found throughout. Rather than a large array of dining tables, the space is a blend of environments to accommodate diners with different needs and preferences, depending on the occasion. There are areas that encourage socializing and mingling, such as the lounges and sharing tables, or more private spots for intimate conversation. The bar area contains a large sharing table and diners can sit at the open crudo bar / charcuterie kitchen and watch the food being made-a common Mediterranean experience. There are cozy indoor areas and breezy outdoor rooms that make the most of the stunning view of the desert and mountains, and areas for private groups and catered events.
Everything on the menu is designed to be shared; the sense of community is a part of what makes Mediterranean style so inviting. The menu is organized in six sections: Salumi and Cured Meats, Small Dishes, Soup, Salads & Pasta, Big Plates, Sides, and Desserts. Everything is made from scratch.
"Figue is absolutely committed to sourcing the freshest and highest quality ingredients money can buy, period," says Morcus. "This is about quality, taste and nutrition and they go hand in hand with quality ingredients. Organic, all natural, wild, hormone and antibiotic free, farm to table, small specialty producers, sustainable, humanely raised, authentic imported products...and more are not marketing buzzwords at Figue. This is our way."
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