Have plans tomorrow night? Cancel them, because Golden Fig is giving diners who snag a table a preview taste of what to expect when the farmhouse eatery opens this Monday, July 27, for dinner.
OTC's sudden closure in June came as a surprise and a huge loss to the Brickell community and dining landscape. It was one of the few places where locals could find decent food at a decent price. But 28-year-old owner Michael Sullivan wanted to do something different. "The things I was into at 25 aren't the things I'm into now," he tells New Times.
Think of Golden Fig as OTC all grown up. Just as Sullivan has evolved and matured as an entrepreneur, so has his restaurant. And while Golden Fig isn't in any way comparable to OTC (no short-rib truffle grilled cheese or poutine fries here), it's very much everything OTC should have been and more — a straightforward taking-it-back-to-classics that uses quality ingredients. And you can go there every single night in your yoga pants. In other words, it's exactly what Brickell has been missing.
"We don't want to say we're farm-to-table," Sullivan explains. "The term is hugely overused. What we're doing is putting craftwork back into the art of cooking." That means working with local farms and seasonal products whenever possible (for example, mango compote in foie mousse), making mustard (along with all other condiments) from scratch and spiking it with Cigar City Jai Alai, and taking the time (six weeks to be exact) to make lardo, duck prosciutto, and other charcuterie.
To do this, Sullivan has secured the talents of chef Tomas Prado, whose culinary resumé includes stints at the Bazaar, DB Bistro Moderne, Café Boulud, and most recently My Ceviche, which is actually how the two met.
"He was one of our best customers," Sullivan says.
"I'd come every day for a beer and conversation," Prado adds. That conversation led them to discover that their interests and ambitions were very much aligned. "I told him what I wanted to do with OTC and the vision I had, and he said, 'Let's make it happen,'" Sullivan says. So they did — in quite a short amount of time too.
New Times recently previewed Golden Fig's offerings. Here's what to expect if you can snag a table tomorrow night (the preview is mostly for friends and industry folks Sullivan has invited, though he's leaving a select number of spots open for walk-ins and OTC devotees) or when Golden Fig officially opens Monday.
Sure, you've probably had foie, but you've never had foie in parfait form or with spiced mango compote. This exceptionally decadent yet velvety delicacy sourced from Hudson Valley will have you using the accompanying toasted Zak the Baker bread slivers to sop up every single last drop from the jar ($15).
Golden Fig boasts a selection of meats and cheeses, many of which have been made and cured in-house. Take, for instance, the lardo, which requires six weeks to make and uses a Mangalitsa hog from Pasture Prime farm near Orlando. "We actually FedExed the pig overnight because they have no distribution," Sullivan says. "What's cool about the Mangalitsa pig is that they pretty much have the highest fat meat ratio, so it's one of most flavorful breeds of pig, and it's right here from Florida." Duck prosciutto is also made in house, and the birds hail from Hudson Valley, which puts out some of the highest-quality duck in the nation. Cheeses and meats cost $6 a portion. Nancy's camembert comes from Old Chatham in New York, and Tomme is shipped in from Sweet Grass, Georgia.
If Golden Fig had been around when New Times declared the best ten croquetas in Miami, these spheres chock full of Virginia ham and delectable béchamel ($8) would have hands down been one of the top five contenders. Pro tip: Ask for some of the house-made mustard.
Crisp calabaza blossoms ($10) are listed as a side, but they act well as an appetizer. The calabaza comes from Paradise Farms and is lightly fried with ratatouille, romesco, lemon zest, and basil oil. Eat 'em while they're hot.
"Most mussels are PEI from Canada, but these at least come from Maine, which is a little closer to us," Sullivan says. If there's one thing Golden Fig is keeping true to OTC form, it's taking full advantage of its stellar craft beer lineup — this time making food that not only pairs well with a brew but is also made with brews in mind. If you think the broth in this dish tastes like Cigar City's Florida Cracker, it's because it contains that very beer. Prado and Sullivan also take it a step further by matching the orange peel and coriander brewing notes of the white Belgian ale with Florida orange segments and local cilantro to enhance both segments. Pickled Fresno chilies finish it off with a nice, subtle kick ($15).
Black grouper brochettes are fished from the Keys and served with saffron couscous, seasonal local vegetables, and caper chimichurri ($25). The complex yet straightforward dish is one you won't want to miss.
Of course Sullivan had to put fried chicken ($18) on the menu — OTC was famous for its Korean chicken 'n' waffles, after all. But like the restaurant itself, the bird has evolved. "We get it from Farm to Kitchen, which is a mom-and-pop place that drives around Florida connecting little farms with restaurants." It's brined, cooked sous vide, and then buttermilk-fried. Pickled collard greens with bacon and pickled okra are the sidekicks. A house-made hot sauce brings it all together.
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Sides include oyster mushrooms ($8) with sherry vinegar, fine herbs, and smoked cheddar, as well as a corn succotash with fava beans, tomato, okra, and basil (also $8).
Two dessert jars ($9) — a key lime jar with graham cracker crumble and meringue or s'mores with chocolate mousse, torched marshmallow, and graham cracker — are a smaller and less indulgent way to end your meal.
If you want to go big, order the sundae ($9). Ice cream made with chocolate stout, cinnamon, and malted milk is served with ginger snaps and salted caramel. There's also an organic peach cobbler ($9) with oat crumble and cinnamon ice cream.