The Wild Fig
There’s something decadent about figs. In their overripe sweetness, they invoke a certain Mediterranean indulgence, a relentlessly pleasure-seeking, Dionysian culture on the verge of decay.
One of Aspen’s newest restaurant’s has captured this mood perfectly in its name, “The Wild Fig.” In its prime location at the base of Aspen’s pedestrian mall, “The Wild Fig” opened last winter and has been warmly greeted by locals since.
It’s interior clearly takes inspiration from the mood of debauchery its name invokes; the snug dining room utilizes grand, Jazz-era New York architecture ” an era of highballs and rip-roaring good times.
Given the restaurant’s name and atmosphere, one would expect heavy, indulgent dishes. Instead, what you find is light, crisp, refreshing food. It’s the flavors of the sun, the other side of Mediterranean culture.
You’re not short on choice for first courses and if in a group a good bet is to order a selection. A good introduction to your meal is the chef’s “Butcher’s Board,” a selection of finely cut meets served with mustard and parmesan, a perfectly civilized way to warm up the palate.
Of the first courses the tuna tartar and the Duck Confit are superb. The tuna is served with avocado, capers, and shallots and is invigorating. The Duck Confit, served with frisee, peach, and orange blossoms shows the chef’s skill ” here the restaurant succeeds in making even duck taste light and refreshing.
Those going Greek will be slightly disappointed by the Tzaki to start, which is adequate but fails to meet the challenge of making the bland ingredients in anyway remarkable as an ensemble.
Of the main courses, the “fish in the bag” has the most intriguing presentation. A different fish each night is prepared with herbs and spices and then cooked and served in a brown paper bag. It’s a simple enough dish, but the delight of eating like a high-rolling hobo makes it worth the recommendation.
For those heavy hitters who feel they don’t get their money’s worth at a restaurant without a large chunk of meet doused in a creamy sauce, the Pepporcorn Fillet will not disappoint. The fries hide a surprise of their own; they are sprinkled with red pepper, so be warned of their unexpected zing.
Of the desserts, it seems an obligation to try the warm figs, which will finish your light meal with a touch of the decadence hinted at in the restaurant’s name. Unusually working its way into this review is a recommendation for the restaurant’s coffee, amante, which is quite simply the best in town.
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