Sunday, November 21, 2010
6444 Nolensville Pike
From the slick, electric blue interior to the little trademark signs next to every mention of Blu Fig on the menu- it’s clear that this restaurant is the blu-print for bigger things. The business recipe for the incipient chain is cooked up by Chef and owner Khaled Fattah, who takes his Jordanian heritage and puts a modern spin on it. The result works well in the food department, even if it is perhaps a bit overblown in concept.
The Blu Fig Mediterranean Kitchen is located in the Brentwood/Cane Ridge side of town. You step into the place and if you’re feeling sleepy those blue walls will jolt you awake. The friendly staff greeted us with a smile and an offer to explain the menu on each visit. That menu isn’t really that complicated. There are a few Mediterranean vegetable favorites on one side of the menu and meat and fish options on the other side. Even better for the Veggie Eater they are quite up front with what goes into those veggie dishes, including the use of chicken stock in the rice and subsequently the dolma. Which is too bad for the Veggie Eater- those dolma are rolled tight, the grape leaves filled with that savory rice. Lentil bisque also gets help from chicken and is simmered to good effect with a nice tang from lemon on the finish. The artisan hummus is a reasonably solid interpretation and in the Mezza Platter it works well with the sharp feta and extremely fresh and parsley filled tabouli.
Quality ingredients and proper execution are evident in several of the dishes, but so too is a price problem. The $4.29 plastic bowl of bisque is pretty small. The $7.99 Mezza Platter is a bit skimpy as well.
That isn’t the case in gyro land. The so called “Yee-Ro” pocket is pita bread stuffed full of tender gyro meat with just enough crisp lettuce, tomato and onions to give it some snap. It’s a serious sandwich and at $5.99 a good deal. Chicken and salmon are two other options for the pocket sandwiches and you can get most of the fish and meats over rice or served up over a salad.
The Battata chips served on the side are a signature item at the Blu Fig. Thyme, sweet basil and a truck load of other herbs and spices give the house fried chips great flavor, with each chip having a slightly different emphasis in herb. A little tzatziki served on the side gives them the creamy yogurty-cucumber finish.
Veggie Eater: There are no veggie entrees/sandwiches to be had on the menu. Our waitress stated there are efforts to incorporate falafel on the menu, but in the mean time, the chef would be happy to construct a pita sandwich with hummus and the fixings. That wasn’t necessary, as we ordered the Mezza Platter, which allowed me to make my own version of hummus, tabouli, feta, and olive sandwiches. The hummus was fresh, but not terribly interesting. The tabouli was lively thanks to liberal doses of parsley, mint, lemon, and garlic. We also opted for the Plate O’s Delight, which was an interesting take on succotash: edamame and corn grilled and tossed olive oil and spices. I concur with Meat Eater- portions were a little light for the price. For example, I think the Mezza Platter came with four quarters of a pita total. I’m sure the waitress would have gotten more had we asked, but seems like more should have been plated from the get go. Beware, although the menu is kind enough to disclose the chicken stock used in various staple items, the staff do not seem to recognize that chicken is a meat item, thus not suitable for the pondering vegetarian. This led to an errant recommendation for the lentil bisque. I’m not sure what other stealth meat products surface in seemingly veggie friendly menu items. I have been known to practice a Bill Clintonesque version of vegetarianism when eating out (I offer up that I am vegetarian, restaurant then assures me various items are suitable; unless I have evidence to the contrary, I don’t ask and they therefore do not tell), but this could be problematic for others.
Meat Eater: Count me in for the falafel if they decide to add it to the menu. They get their pita bread from Sannabill, a local baker on Thompson Lane. A chat reveals that much thought went into that pita selection. The freshness and chewiness of the pita stand out. That pickiness also extends to the baklava, which is shipped in from Michigan. We have to agree that it’s well worth the trip. This is some of the better baklava we’ve had: crisp with distinct flavors, just enough sweetness and pleasant hints of spice. No gloppy syrup here. It’s a real treat. Bubble tea and smoothie fans will enjoy the third part of the menu, featuring an extensive line-up of fruit flavors and mash-ups. It’s actually Mr. Fattah’s original business…nutrition supplements and smoothies. Perhaps we’ll see Blu Figs popping up on the national food landscape in the future.
We paid $30 with tax and tip on one visit and I paid $9.50 with tax and tip on another.