Giddy to be hours away from our rendezvous with Michael Buble, I decided to treat my mom to dinner at the Flying Fig that Tuesday evening before the concert. Many the Cleveland blogger recommended this restaurant, so I was ready to see what all the buzz was all about.
From their listing on opentable.com: Our mission at the Flying Fig is simple, to offer professional, courteous service, in a casual, relaxed setting. We provide wine-oriented cuisine utilizing the finest ingredients available, sourced locally whenever possible.
Upon our arrival, we were seated by a lovely hostess at a table right in the front window of the restaurant. The bar was hopping nearby, so I was glad I made online reservations requesting a table in the bar area. Sunshine poured on us through the window on that lovely March evening, allowing for some great food photos from my Nikon point and shoot camera!
My mom and I both ordered the happy hour white wine selection, which if I remember correctly, was the 2006 Muga Viura/Malvasia from Rioja, Spain. I was driving, so I only enjoyed one glass, but would have had another if I didn’t take allergy meds about an hour before…
To start, we ordered the House Made Bread & House made Snowville Creamery Butter:
QUESTION: How do you feel about being charged for bread in upscale restaurants? That plate right there set me back $2. BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY. The bread just burst with flavor, it had a great balance of herbs. I seriously considered ordering another two rounds of the stuff.
For my starter, I went with the night’s special of the Bibb Salad with radish, carrot, feta cheese and Goddess Dressing:
I requested the dressing on the side as usual. Let’s see: put a pile of fresh veggies with feta cheese in front of me? You can’t go wrong. This was my first experience with Goddess dressing (I’ve been living under a rock apparently), which I enjoyed Flying Fig’s version of on this salad. I ate every bite contently.
My mom picked the Endive & Watercress Salad with Sun Chockes, Apples, Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Candied Walnuts, Lemon Vinaigrette:
I managed a bite away from my mom, who can be quoted as saying “I don’t know what I’m eating, but it’s very good.” This was a solid. Even with the walnuts and blue cheese, this salad didn’t feel heavy. The chef dressed it with just the right of ingredients to not weight down the salad.
For our main course, we decided to split a couple different options from the Small Plates section of the menu, starting with the Crispy Polenta Cake with Tomato and Fennel Sauce, Mascarpone Cheese:
I don’t tend to eat a lot of fried foods. I also don’t tend to eat a lot of polenta. I suppose I haven’t investigated its potential in my culinary world just quite yet. That being said, this was quite tasty. The polenta was perfectly fried on the outside and yet still soft on the inside. I really enjoyed the tomato and fennel sauce with it. If all fried foods tasted the way this did, I’d be in trouble.
Another one of our selections was the Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions, Killbuck Farm Mushrooms, Greens & Romano Cheese:
The gnocchi was well prepared and nicely seasoned. I enjoyed the extra veggies with the pasta. However, I have to admit: even for a “savory small” option, I was surprised by the amount of food in the bowl. I’ve ordered “small plates” from other restaurants and received much more in a serving size.
From the happy hour specials, we got an order of 12 Mussels served in a Tomato Broth:
They also had this in a larger size portion of 18 mussels cooked with chorizo. Once our waiter set the plate down, I wished we ordered the bigger size – not necessarily for the amount of mussels served, but I knew the sausage would have added that extra kick to knock this out of the park. The broth enhanced the mussels and we both enjoyed this dish. I managed to save a few pieces of bread to soak up some additional broth, which was the smartest thing I did all week.
Speaking of that waiter: I have to admit I was rather disappointed with our waiter that evening. Sure he was polite enough, but not overly helpful. When we asked for his suggestions of his favorite things from the menu, he said something to the point of “I really don’t know what you are looking for. Really anything you pick will be excellent as the chef uses fresh ingredients every day.” Seriously? You couldn’t even say “I really suggest you start with an order of house made bread with your salad” or “I really enjoy the beets myself”. We mentioned we were going to the concert that evening, and the only time he seemed in a rush to do anything is when I placed my credit card in the bill holder. Maybe we caught the guy on a bad day, but I was rather thrown by his “eh, I’m working on a random Tuesday night” sort of attitude.
LONG STORY SHORT: Would I go back to Flying Fig? Yes. Anytime soon? Eh… if I was choosing, probably not. Don’t get me wrong: the food was good, but when the bread is the highlight of the meal, that’s saying something. I plan to return to try something off of their entree menu – the halibut special our waiter described sounded DEVINE. But overall, I’m in no hurry to return to this fine, upstanding establishment: there are just many more restaurants in Cleveland for me to try!