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LaGuardia Airport, Central Terminal, ground level
It's a hot concept. Todd English, with five "Olives" and four "Figs" in Boston, has landed in Manhattan with an Olives in Union Square and a Figs, since February, at LaGuardia (in fact two, if you count the take-out Figs, seating 34, beyond the security check in.)
Figs LaGuardia is located in the Central Terminal Building market place food court on the ground level in view of planes taxiing. Yet it seems unto itself with soaring ceiling and lemon lolly pop lights circling the bar. Bar chairs are high, just as those around the rear wood burning pizza oven, and there's a central communal table. There are lounge chairs and sofas in the bar with tables and chairs elsewhere seating 125. A mobile dangles overhead with figs in lower-case script attached.
You'll find the diners - coming in for a meal or a light something - to be a mixed bag from CEOs, to singers and entertainers, to Donald Trump and Marla (on different occasions) and you and me. We carried out a Todd English (with Italian ancestry) trademark individual flatbread pizza. It's ultra thin. The fig and prosciutto with a rosemary crust, figs balsamic jam glazed, sliced prosciutto and gorganzola plus green fennel snippings, make an intriguing pizza. I adored it. He, my just-landed jet-setter dining companion, liked it. The white clam or spicy chicken sausage are more his thing. Figs food is terrific with appetizers hard to beat. There was great sophistication, yet right-out-of-Grandma's-kitchen flavor. My fresh tomato and spinach soup: chicken broth thickened with parmesan polenta plus orzo pasta and shaved parmesan grana, was a soup to remember. His wild mushroom ragout had thick slices of portobello in parmesan polenta with a dollop of mascarpone and a hint of truffle oil. Who wouldn't want either before his departing or arriving flight?
The accompanying foccacia was at least two inches thick - dense, moist, reminiscent of German rye - served sliced. And, peanut-like, it's hard to eat just one.
We divided a Boston lettuce and watercress salad: a ring of whole lettuce leaves around the outside (pretty but hard to handle, Todd), with toasted walnut bread fingers projecting (nice) and a shower of blue cheese over all.
Macaroni Simone, a sky-high elevated macaroni and cheese with baked orzo in a four cheese cream of cheddar, fontina, mozzarella and Parmesan, is heavenly. Figs orzo has a rice-like quality and texture. The sauce is luscious. Buttery crumbs on top give it texture and a dash of nutmeg spices it perfectly.
His Insalta Bistecca was also a knockout with sliced glazed balsamic hanger steak with a three onion jam, over country smashed (not mashed) potatoes and with a string bean salad. Too hearty for summer? How about Garganelli: seared boneless chicken, white beans and bacon, fresh broccoli rabe tossed with hand-rolled pasta and fresh Parmesan.
Dolci sharing time. A white chocolate challah bread pudding is it. Again, a two inches plus dense slab, saturated with custard. It just glides down.
To get the taste of take-out Figs, we took out an express panni. (Have you noticed that a sandwich isn't a sandwich anymore? Panni is chic.) And all panni are served with parmesan potato chips. And all panni have an Italian orientation except for El : ham and turkey habenero pickles, gruyere cheese and a spicy aioli,
There's an old expression - "I don't care a fig." But I do care for Figs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A new concept in airport dining. Full meal or a bite in a restaurant (Plus a take-out) CEOs and ordinary mortals dine here. Excellent Mediterranean food. Ultra-thin flat bread pizza baked in a brick oven before you. Worth a trip to the airport just to dine there.
Fresh Tomato & Spinach Soup...$7.50
Wild Mushroom Ragu (with creamy Parmesan polenta, dollop of marscapone, touch of truffle oil)...$7.95
Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread Pizza...$8.25
Macarone Simone (baked orzo in four-cheese cream of cheddar)...S7.95
Garganelli (seared boneless chicken, white beans & bacon, fresh broccoli rabe tossed with hand-rolled pasta...S8.95
Napoletana Sub (prosciutto, sojppressata, mortedella & Provolone with lettuce, tomato & aged balsamic vinegar)...$9.75
El Cubano (ham & turkey, habanero pickles, Gruyere, & spicy aioli)...S8.95
Setting: Soaring ceilings. Planes taxiing to gate
Service: Very fine
Hours: From 11 a.m. to last plane lands, 7 days
Children: Own menu
Credit cards: All major
Private Parties: To 70
Handicapped access: Yes
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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