Figs Restaurant

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Sep. 12, 2013

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Executive chef/owner Mustapha Rouissiya puts his Moroccan heritage on full display at his Mediterranean-inspired Figs Restaurant.

Photo by Staff Photo by Kathryn Poole

I’ve got Marc Vetri on the mind. Ever since he opened Pizzeria Vetri Sept. 6 in Fairmount, all I could think about was pizza. I looked through the Zagat Guide to see if there were other Fairmount-area restaurants that specialized in pizza. The place I found was more of a take-out shop, so I had to go to Plan B.

Edward and I walked through the neighborhood, with a bottle of wine in hand, when we remembered Figs was just about a block away. I had not been to this delightful, cash only Mediterranean restaurant in more than 10 years. We were curious to see the dinner menu.

Figs is owned by executive chef Mustapha Rouissiya who I met at least 20 years ago. He is from Morocco and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a business law degree. After traveling through Italy, he found his heart’s desire was in the kitchen and not the court room.

His restaurant looks like it has been kissed by the sun with its warm yellows and oranges and colorful artwork and ceiling fans. It was a bit warm inside, so we dined outside.

Our server brought us warm bread and a ramekin of white bean humus scented with cumin and turmeric. The menu is a mix of Mediterranean fare with a Moroccan flair, but I was not surprised to find other dishes on the bill of fare since Rouissiya enjoys many cuisines.

We began dinner with an eggplant appetizer ($8) and “my favorite appetizer,” which turned out to be sashimi ($9). The Eggplant, which is a staple of Mediterranean cooking, was sliced and layered with goat cheese, placed in an oval baking dish, topped with fresh tomato sauce and fragrant basil. We dipped the bread into the sauce and enjoyed.

The sashimi was packed with flavor and eye appeal. Several cool slices of sushi-grade tuna, coated in black sesame seeds, was in fine company with the thinly sliced pickled ginger, squiggles of creamy wasabi, and a small mound of seaweed salad with soy sauce on the side. I even received wooden chopsticks, which was a delight.

For our entrees, we selected filet of sole ($21) and crispy duck breast. Moroccan cuisine sometimes has a French influence, which was evident in these dishes. The filet of sole was a fine, meaty portion of this mild fish stuffed with lump crabmeat and napped in a light mushroom cream sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and haricot vert.

Boneless breast of duck is a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, it was neither crisp or medium rare. Still it was tender and imparted a lovely flavor. I particularly enjoyed the fig and apple cider sauce, which also enhanced the fruit bread pudding. I am not too fond of fruit in savory dishes, but the use of the in-season, fresh and sweet figs helped make the bread pudding shine. Some fresh sautéed baby spinach with bits of garlic came with my entrée.

A glass of Moroccan sweet mint tea, which a waiter poured in a long stream from a small, metal teapot, cleared our taste buds for dessert. Pistachio ice cream is way up there on my list along with chocolate. It was a cool and refreshing way to end dinner. We also enjoyed the warm peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.

Service was fine on all levels. Two servers took good care of us along with the other patrons who were dinning outside. Plan B turned out to be a good choice. We wanted to know if Rouissiya was in the kitchen, but he was visiting family in Morocco.

For a few delightful hours, my mind was off pizza. Three tips of the toque to Figs.


Figs Restaurant

2501 Meredith St.


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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. Marty Medals said... on Sep 12, 2013 at 03:42PM

“Excuse me,
is this not the SOUTH PHILLY REVIEW?”

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2. Angie said... on Sep 12, 2013 at 03:51PM

“where the heck is Meredith Street?

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3. Juan Pierre said... on Sep 12, 2013 at 04:49PM

“I'm getting really tired of the constant use of the word "ramekin" in these reviews. It reminds me of the music snobs who try to impress us with the word "genre", when there are other ways to express the concept that are equally good or better. Good writing demands variety and a conversation with your audience. Your audience is not Le Cordon Bleu.”

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4. sherri said... on Sep 12, 2013 at 08:04PM

“Angie, Meredith comes in between Aspen and Perot. Heh heh.”

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5. MS said... on Sep 13, 2013 at 08:14AM

“Juan Pierre hit the nail on the head. PSN pretends she's writing for the NYT.

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6. Slim said... on Sep 13, 2013 at 09:46AM

“I'm not so sure I buy the argument that the South Philly Review should limit its restaurant coverage to South Philly restaurants. The writer is informing you of food adventures that can be had by hopping a bus or driving a short distance from where you live. Are you admitting you'll never visit the art museum and thus don't information about a restaurant on Meredith St? Do you only eat within 1000 feet of your house? Should the Philadelphia Inquirer stop informing us about great Boston lobster roll joints? Should the New York Times quit going on and on about those Paris cafés?”


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