Last week, I was invited to Naked Fig to taste what The Fig Cafes (Naked Fig, Pickled Fig & Wild Fig) had to offer with my bestie Mahara. Huge thumbs up for creativity – this Fig Infused Balsamic Dressing invitation arrived in the mail…
Sitting next to Russel, one of three owners of The Fig Cafes and chatting to Jamie the Operations Manager of the Naked Fig. I was told The Fig Cafe’s philosophy was all around serving well balanced healthy food in a creative environment.
Each Fig has it’s own personalities by virtue of their location. We were told that the Naked Fig which is named after the Swanbourne nudest beach tends to appeal more to the Western Suburbs diners, Pickled Fig to the quirky / creative Freo crowd and Wild Fig to the younger (possibly wilder) Scarborough beach crowd who are a bit more casual and keen for a quicker meal.
Wild Fig was Mahara and I’s go-to Fig for breakfast when they were located in Waterman Bay. Every time we went, I’d have my usual latte, egg benedict and a Pink Panther juice which is a tropical blend of pink grapefruit, strawberry and watermelon. I’ve only ever deviated from my usual order once for the Grizzly Bear Pancakes – you can find my full Wild Fig breakfast review here.
Last week was my first experience of the Naked Fig and wow, it was completely different to what I had expected. It truly does have a different feel – the meals from the dinner menu were beautifully presented and of a fine dining quality and price.
Naked Fig although serving a fine dining dinner menu doesn’t reflect the fine dining moody feel – it’s creative, hip and family-friendly thanks to the creative design flair of one of the owners, Greer, who has a background in graphics and signwriting.
There’s plenty to look at, from the coloured bucket chandeliers to the photos of the beach…
Then there’s the brightly coloured kid’s playroom…
Naked Fig’s breakfast and lunch menus are more affordable, breakfast ranges from $4.50 for a muffin to a full breakfast for $19.90. Lunch ranges from $16 for an entree sized baked puff pastry with salad to $35 for a 300g piece of steak with wedges.
What better introduction to The Fig Cafes than a three-course dinner by three different chefs from the three different Fig restaurants at the one beachfront venue.
Keep reading for the feast Mahara and I happily indulged in. We shared three different entrees, mains and desserts amongst the table so we could have a taste of each Fig’s menu.
Pickled Fig menu by head chef Andy Walton
Andy Walton tells us that his Pickled menu is inspired by what’s in season and through experimenting with different combinations.
Entrée: Pitted mixed olives, olive tapenade, olive bread
Main: Crispy grilled barramundi, basil mash potato, chorizo, capsicum & orange reduction
Dessert: Mandarin & thyme crème brulee, shortcake biscuit
I figured being married to an Italian burger boy who doesn’t eat olives means it’s perfectly ok for me not to be a huge olive fan I’ve tried a few times but still can’t get my taste buds to budge. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the lightly toasted olive bread. The olives were nice and subtle.
The grilled barramundi was crispy on top and served with a basil mash potato, chorizo, capsicum and orange reduction. The barramundi was soft and I liked the balance of flavours.
The mandarin and thyme creme brûlée texture was quite thin and the caramel top was crunchy with a slight bitterness. The homemade shortbread was a nice touch and would have been great to dip with coffee if it wasn’t so late in the night.
Naked Fig menu by head chef Chris May
I really loved the Naked Fig menu, everything selected for our bloggers dinner would be what I would normally order. When I asked Chris May what inspires his food combinations, he enthusiastically said his menu ideas are like “lightning has struck” which I can related to as often my best ideas happen at the oddest times and are inspired by random things.
Entrée: Scallop & tarragon tortellini, shellfish cappuccino
Main: Roasted peppered sirloin, beef blade, chickpea puree, sprouts, garlic & rosemary jus
Dessert: Popcorn Panna Cotta with vanilla sugared popcorn and butterscotch sauce
The scallops and tarragon tortellini were soft and creamy. It had a beautiful truffle oil flavour.
There were discussions with Chris May around whether the roasted peppered sirloin and beef blade was a good combination. Like most, I thought that as the blade was so tender it takes away the attention from the Sirloin making it taste tougher than it is. I liked the blade and would have loved a full dish of blade which was slowly cooked to perfection.
Oh Chris May’s dessert just blew me away. This popcorn panna cotta was served with vanilla sugared popcorn, fudge and butterscotch sauce. I love salted caramel so I loved this combination of salted sweetness and the panna cotta wasn’t too rich. I love that food can trigger all sorts of memories – the popcorn and butterscotch sauce reminds me of the movies and the fudge triggers memories of my school days when I used buy them from the local deli on the way home.
The menu at Naked Fig changes every fortnight so your taste buds will always be tested.
Wild Fig menu by head chef Rodrigo Da Rocha
Entrée: Lemon & thyme polenta, aubergine & tomato roulade, agro dolce puree
Main: Pan roasted duck breast, confit duck & mushroom tart, parsnip puree, sautéed kale, pistachio brittle, plum jus
Dessert: White chocolate & raspberry mille feuille
The lemon and thyme polenta had a strong vinegary flavour which Mahara enjoyed. The polenta was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
The pan roasted duck was tender and Mahara loved the buttery carrots & fresh herbs in this dish.
The white chocolate & raspberry mille feuille was Mahara’s favourite dessert. She loved the crispy savory pastry.
After tasting menus from the three Figs, we indulged some more. Mahara had this massive bowl of chai latte, her regular order at the Wild Fig.
I had a pot of green tea…
Although I wish I had tried the new range of tea which launches tomorrow (Mon 13/5) – below is the fresh mint tea and green tea.
I enjoyed watching each of the green tea flowers float to the top and open…
The Fig Cafes serves my kind of food – I liked everything that was served and ate pretty much everything except the olives. Russel tells me Greer started The Fig Cafes with The Wild Fig twelve and a half years ago in Waterman Bay and The Fig Cafes have been growing ever since. All The Fig Cafes cater for vegans, gluten free and vegetarians.
You would have heard The Fig Cafe recently caught the attention of social media with their Chalkboard responses to Paul Tonich’s negative facebook post about their service. So I must admit I was a bit skeptical when I received an invite to this bloggers dinner but what I’ve learnt by being both a business owner and food blogger is that how you deal with criticism makes all the difference. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and sometimes those opinions are warranted and sometimes they are not entirely correct. In this instance, The Fig Cafe owners decided to take a stance which would have both cost them some customers and won them new customers. Being in business is hard and you do make hard decisions – the chalkboard responses wouldn’t have been the approach I would have taken but it’s none of my business. All that matters to me, is that there is a commitment to customer service and to make amends where there has been issues.
I enjoyed my experience at the Naked Fig and The Fig Cafe’s approach with providing healthy balanced food. I’ll be going back soon to see what the service is like at all the Figs for myself on an ordinary day.