figa, first impression, forks and bowls

Figa..Day 5.

I’m going to follow the lead of Kate, from The Blueberry Files and preface this all by saying that it is NOT a review of the barely week old Figa. But, I’ll take you damn close to want to calling it one. Chef Farrington has waited a very long time to cook for diners in Portland in this space and we’ve been building our own excitement as the opening finally came. It’s not a review, it’s more of a build up over two years of jonesing to try her food. This post is an expression of pure glee. It also helped that I was joined by Adam and Dawn of Appetite Portland for my first venture in–this was their second time in the restaurants opening week.

Having never looked in the window, while many waited with baited breath for their doors to open, I was in absolute love with the design and layout of the space. It reminded me, much like Bresca, of a gem you would luck up finding in Brooklyn or Greenich Village in New York. It was open and cozy and I felt a bit like I was walking into someone’s home that happened to have an amazingly professional kitchen. Honestly, I couldn’t stop talking about how much I loved this space instantly. It also helped to see a familiar face as the hostess and Sasha’s knowledge of the menu guided us to a nice opening trio of Wild Boar Randang, Shrimp Patia w/Corn Blini and Bharta.

And they were all fantastic. The depth of flavor in the Randang might actually rival my love of Boda’s telling of it and–pardon my language– but Figa’s is some pretty fucking spectacular Rendang. It was fall apart tender, sweet and, thankfully, comes in a larger portion than what we had gotten as our “Spoon” sized starter–which all of the spoons are much larger portions than we expected and which we did note actually does not come with a spoon at all. Ponder that one.

The Bharta was nice, slightly sweet and smokey, but was definitely overshadowed by the much enjoyed Shrimp Patia. Poppy little nuggets of Maine shrimp in a gorgeously light flavored tomato sauce atop a corn blini. Bliss. Thumbs up all around for the starters and for the in-house baked breads that were served to help mop up the saucy goodness on our plates (Thank you again, Kate, for the tip).

Our main dishes, which consisted of both “Fork” and “Knife” portions were also greatly enjoyed. Sev crusted Scallops w/a Jicama Pear slaw–small sized–and Grilled Prawns on Grilled Corn Salsa were my choices for an entree while Adam went for the Cumin and Fennel Spiced Duck with Mashed Potatoes and Dawn ordered the Chicken Tandori, Couscous and Figa Chutney. The entrees were good but it felt like they had a hard act to follow in the starters. Again, for me, the shrimp presented were fantastically done. This time the seasoning and presentation were much more stripped down and just as wonderful. I loved the simplicity of the dish and it was a great pairing to have along side of the crunchy and perfectly cooked panko crusted scallops. And Dawn didn’t miss a beat in telling me that I would love the jicama that accompanied it. These dishes were such a nice contrast to the heartiness on display in our appetizers and could definitely become a personal favorite. I also enjoyed nibbles of Dawn’s couscous and chicken and Adam’s duck–which was probably the only thing I didn’t much care for but that has more to do with my underwhelming enjoyment of duck than anything else.

An errand to Bar Lola, to retrieve Adams wayward jacket he had left behind on his last visit, cut our evening a bit short at Figa. Though, I will guarantee that my next visit will definitely include the tempting trio of creme brulees that were seen on the dessert menu.

My hats off to wonderful execution by the front and back of the house. And the warmest of wishes to Chef Farrington for finally being able to open her doors. The wait, though I’m sure it didn’t feel like it for her, has been worth it.

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