Tucked on the corner of Brookwood Plaza, Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar can be easily missed by the unsuspecting passerby. Since its opening in February 2012, the restaurant has staked its place in South Buckhead as a go-to spot for residents, local business people and the wandering Atlanta tourist. A single search will leave the food-curious with mixed reviews on just how well Fig Jam stacks up in the Atlanta restaurant scene. However, a strategic decision by restaurateur owners Mario Maccarrone & Costanzo Astarita to make some major updates to the restaurant will soon prove sustainable for Fig Jam.
The newly appointed Chef Andrew Thoms brings over 15 years of restaurant and hospitality experience to the table as the chef de cuisine of Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar. He joins classic training and technique with a passion for regional and sustainable fare. Chef Thoms’s influence is present in each item on the menu, which showcases globally influenced American cuisine. An Atlanta native, Thoms studied at the Pennsylvania Culinary School and was chef de cuisine at No. 246 in Decatur as well as sous chef at Restaurant Eugene. There he developed his passion for farm-fresh ingredients and relationships with local farmers. Chef Thoms has also completed time in the kitchens of Local Three, the Four Seasons San Francisco and Atlanta, the St. Regis Manhattan, and the Georgian Terrace Hotel.
I recently visited the restaurant while it’s still in its original location and experienced just how the C&M Gastronomy Group concept has evolved with the new change. (The move to Midtown takes place before spring of 2013.)
Despite its location amongst shopping plaza storefronts, Fig Jam does a great job on setting a warm atmosphere and inviting communal experience from the sidewalk. The restaurant showcases their large private dining area as well as a year-round patio from both sides of the street. Inside, the old-time farmhouse, the American tavern concept comes to life with a modern fusion. The center of the restaurant dons a salami cellar which features aged meats and cheeses butcher-shop style. Small references to the concept include old Coca-Cola crates that waiters use as serving trays and dining chairs designed to look like they are made of repurposed wooden planks. Seating is communal yet intimate. You can enjoy drinks with coworkers on one night or have an intimate dinner in a corner table on another. Modern vibes play in to create a sexy accompaniment—soft up-tempo music mellows the ambience of the restaurant.
The complete menu overhaul, thanks to Chef Thoms, shows maturation towards honing in on American cuisine with global inspiration. The communal concept of the restaurant comes to light with the shareable options on the menu—which is divided into small, medium and large plates. The new menu pays slight homage to farm-to-table influences as most dishes feature farm-fresh meats, veggies, and bottled ingredients from off-the-pantry-shelf.
Our dinner selections were quite easy with the hand-picked menu that’s narrowed down to the most mastered dishes.
To start off, an obvious request was to try the Fig Jam cocktail. Served in a glass mug, the cocktail majorly consists of Purity organic Vodka, fig preserve, maple syrup, lemon juice and hints of rhubarb bitters attractively prepared and garnished with a dried fig. The cocktail was simple, refreshing ,and light, yet bold to stand on its own as one of the restaurant’s signature drinks.
For a snack, my dinner guest and I elected to try the Pimento Cheese Fritters ($6) followed by a small plate of Grilled Quail ($11). The cheese fritters were pimento cheese battered in cornmeal served over gazpacho,. They were a great flavor accompaniment to the Fig Jam cocktail. The hint of chives and aioli drizzle went well with the rhubarb bitters. As a first-time quail eater, the grilled quail plate definitely won me over. The dish is served with a cherry mostarda which intoxicates the tender quail with flavor.
For our main course, we opted for a little surf-and-turf, choosing the Carolina Trout ($19) and Creekstone Farm Flatiron ($22). After tasting, my vote went to the Carolina Trout dish, which featured fresh, pan-seared trout, lacinato kale and Vidalia onion. Though the largely cut kale packed a spicy-overdrive initially, the trout received two thumbs up for its flavorful body…you can literally eat the trout without any of its sides! My dinner guest, on the other hand, preferred the larger-portioned Creekstone Flatiron, consisting of a medium-rare flatiron-cut steak, lady peas, and candied red onion which we both ate entirely by itself.
Perfect proportions left us highly satiated, and surprisingly, with room left for dessert. Two recommendations brought us to trying both Bread Pudding with butter sauce and Chocolate Chip Cookie with whipped chocolate mousse and chocolate drizzle. For lovers of all things chocolate, the latter might tickle your fancy, but the hard texture of the cookie sandwich was too much to fight with after a full course. For sure, we loved the bread pudding. The dessert did tricks on our palate while remaining light, fluffy and heavenly! A definite keeper on the menu.
The service was exceptional during the usually busy dinner hour. Servers and managers were very charismatic, attentive and knowledgeable, making great recommendations for those who are having a first-time experience. The menu prices are also commendable with the most expensive entrée, the N.Y. Strip, at a mere $24!
When a good atmosphere and great food prices aren’t enough, the restaurant gets extra points with the crowd for being a bring-your-own-wine environment with a $20 corkage fee per table. Fig Jam Kitchen and Bar is a definite recommendation if you’re looking for a signature experience in Atlanta. Check out their new menu before it gets a slight update for the winter season!
Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar
1745 Peachtree St. N.E.
Atlanta, Ga. 30309
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday: 5 – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 4 – 10 p.m