Melrose Place, the little strip of upscale design houses like Ports 1961, just got their first upscale restaurant by way of New York. Fig & Olive lies just at the end of the fashion row at the corner of La Cienega Boulevard. The concept, based on owner Laurent Halasz’s childhood upbringing, offers cuisine from the South of France, Italy and Spain all generously made with olive oil.

“I want to highlight our menu’s core ingredient of olive oil, which we use in place of butter in our dishes,” he explains. “Our cuisine, along with an elegant white, green and terra cotta décor, immerses our guests into the essence of the Mediterranean region in which I grew up.”

The three styles fit in with the three room theme of Fig & Olive, and it’s up to you to decide on what whets your appetite upon arrival. Upon entry, you can choose to post up at the massive tasting bar or sit inside or outdoors in the main dining room. You are also looking at a wall of about 30 olive oils, a sign that Chef Pascal Lorange has quite an arsenal in the kitchen waiting. Chef Lorange’s rule for the original four Fig & Olive locales in New York is that everything is locally and seasonally sourced, and he makes sure this is strictly followed out here in Los Angeles.

An amuse-bouche of a few varieties of olive oil accompanied with freshly baked rosemary bread is offered while you decide what you’d like to drink. The wine list is definitely extensive, so if you’re unsure what to try, ask your server. I stuck with a crisp pinot noir, as usually this is a happy medium when I can’t decide between fish or steak. At the communal table, you can gather with your friends and order the small plates for the perfect sharing experience. There’s so much to choose from: salmon crudo with oranges, grapefruits and cilantro to beautiful ribbons of zucchini carpaccio sprinkled with Picholine olive oil. The Fig gorgonzola tartlet is encased in puff pastry and is actually one of the signature appetizers in all of the Fig & Olive locations. Though I try my best to stay away from dairy, there’s no way I can pass up burrata on any menu, especially when served with vegetables and basil olive oil. I could eat it, along with the confit heirloom carrot and thyme soup, every day!

Moving to the second course, you have two pasta options. Try the white truffle olive oil-infused penne with black trumpet and cremini mushrooms. The heavy hitters, Fig & Olive’s main dishes are the real deal – especially the sole papillote. Papillote is a technique of cooking where the protein is cooked in paper, not the classroom paper, but “cooking paper” if you will. This ensures moist results, not to mention a completely intoxicating aroma just waiting to burst out. My star of the evening was a tie between the Mediterranean branzino, also known as European sea bass, glazed in fig and aged balsamic vinegar for a salty sweet punch, and the Herbes de Provence-tinged lamb chops. Though I’m not a fan of lamb, when you pair it with fresh gnocchi and roast eggplant, it’s hard to say no. For about $6 each, you can order a few sides if you’d like to add to your main. I enjoyed the caramelized endives and haricot verts. Both dishes do a great job being approachable vegetables that taste good and are not boring like broccoli, etc.

Fig & Olive is also open for lunch. You can try the same small plates option or order a panini, salad or main course. For the price you pay at this place, you don’t leave feeling like you’ve spent way too much for a meal you won’t remember. To the contrary, the eatery is pretty reasonably priced, especially for the portions.

I am patiently waiting for the chance to try the brunch menu; especially the South of France poached eggs with salmon and avocado. That paired with a light-bodied sauvignon blanc or a glass of cava will hopefully keep me a huge fan of all things Fig & Olive.

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