Fig & Olive Presents the Weekend Riviera Brunch

Brunch is serious business for we who live in Orange County, so when the gorgeous Fig & Olive at Fashion Island in Newport Beach scratches that itch with both Saturday and Sunday options, you need to listen. As if the restaurant's perfectly planned and decorated interior was not enough to lure you into its company, they added in a "Weekend Riviera Brunch" on the weekends that will make you kick back and enjoy a leisurely time on the terrace. Available in the naturally-lit space outdoors with the extra perk of giving families one complimentary kids' meal per reservation, this brunch buffet comes at a modest price of $24 per person. Convinced yet? We were invited one typically beautiful southern California day to partake in the buffet and came away impressed by the value and quality of Fig & Olive's weekend offering so here come the tantalizing pictures...

Upon entering the restaurant, you'll spot the full spread of selections available bar-side on various, colorfully arranged plates. Start with the Bread & Viennoiseries (choice of multigrain bread, baguette, bagel, croissant, chocolate croissant or an assortment served with housemade fig jam, olive oil honey spread, and choice of strawberry or orange jam) to satisfy the typical morning cravings of some sweetness atop a toasted carb or perhaps build your own granola and yogurt bowl to pair with their seasonal fresh fruit.

Libations on your mind? What is brunch without it? Their cocktail and wine menu is available during this time so there are several options. Think outside of the typical mimosas though and opt for their array of Bloody Marys ($14) for some interactive fun. These are made tableside with all of the accouterments to ensure customization and excitement - you are asked to pick the components you like in your Bloody Mary and then to assist. For example, we squeezed our own lemon wedge when we snagged their Bloody Marlene (soft and smooth spice blend with juniper berries, cardamom and coriander). There are base versions of this iconic cocktail using differing spirits but then the rest is up to you. If you prefer a refreshing cocktail, several people at our table went for Fig & Olive's Summer in Provence ($12 - gin, housemade rosemary thyme syrup, muddle blackberries, and fresh lime juice) which I found a bit strong on the gin and less on the rest. If alcohol in the morning is not your style, they do also offer mocktails for $9 each.

I have always been to Fig & Olive in the evening so never fully experienced nor appreciated the massive amount of natural sunlight it is able to absorb in the daytime. The dining spaces were flawless and welcoming, presenting an air of relaxation with a bit of posh and chic. Thinking about brunch in Orange County, I could easily have imagined this set-up as what that would look like. Some small bites of smoked salmon carpaccio and their cucumber "carpaccio" were good starters along with slices of a fig tartlet. These finger foods gave a good preview into the styles the restaurant was trying to convey.

If you are like us and indulge heavily into Charcuterie and Cheese, there is no lack of that during the Weekend Riviera Brunch. Several varieties of each were residents in the buffet area and so easy to take much of. There was also a large assortment of salads including their Tomato Burrata Caprese (though I'd like to point out that it was mozzarella instead of burrata we had that morning), Fig & Olive Salad (romaine hearts, mesclun, fig, apple, Manchego, Dolce Gorgonzola, tomato, walnut, olive, scallion, and 18-year fig & balsamic Arbequina Olive Oil), and Salade de Poulet (arugula, tomato, avocado orange, scallion, crouton, dried cranberries, and blood orange olive oil emulsion of Picholine Olive Oil). Figs and olive oils were obviously important elements of many of the dishes.

For the meat lovers and those wanting more savory dishes, chafers of Pancetta, Roasted Potatoes, and Apple Chicken Sausage were present to sate such cravings. The potatoes were on the undercooked side but if chicken sausage is something you enjoy, you'd enjoy the slightly sweet but still hearty slices of theirs. Additionally, inside the main dining room, you could indulge in the juicy meats available at their carving station or even pick your own ingredients for an omelette made live.

What would a buffet be without copious amounts of delicious desserts? A tiered tower held plates of many as well as did an entire side of the bar. My favorite of the bunch was their Dessert "Crostini" (Amarena cherry, mascarpone, and pistachio on shortbread with micro-basil) as it hit all of the elements I desire in a finisher without being too sweet - savory, crumbly, and light. There were also miniature bowls for Chocolate Pot de Creme and a Panna Cotta alongside Crunchy Praline and Mini Apple Tarts. As I understand it though, there will be changes every time for the desserts so perhaps you'll just have to visit multiple times to get a feel for them all!

The Weekend Riviera buffet is held from 11AM-3PM, and reservations are recommended by calling 949.877.3005. Fig & Olive is located at 151 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660 (Fashion Island) so make sure not to miss it. After all, $24/person elsewhere would just get you a dish and single cocktail instead of a full spread of buffet items.

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.