Monday, November 4, 2013

Morgantown Edition: The Dancing Fig

Dancing FigThe Dancing Fig is a new restaurant on High Street, which replaced Lira Restaurant, which had replaced a Wesbanco Bank. I liked Lira, but not enough to combat parking and the downtown partying scene for the restaurant. So my visits were limited.

From The Dancing Fig's bio on their website, it looks as though the executive chef at the Vintage Room, Janet Ferraro, opened up Lira with two others. The others sold the company to focus on other endeavors, and Janet and another executive chef of the Vintage Room, Michael Bowyer, purchased it.

The two had gone on a culinary tour of Italy. "They were struck by the abundance of fresh figs that Italy offered and marveled at how they seemed to compliment everything and were equally delicious by themselves. When they accepted the offer to buy the restaurant they wanted a name that would reflect the changes that they wanted to make. They knew they wanted to offer Italian cuisine with fresh pastas, and to them, Italy, meant figs. They also wanted to emphasize local music and arts, hence The Dancing Fig was born."

Dancing FigDancing FigWhile I didn't do this, it seems as though if you park in the Spruce St. parking garage and bring the ticket to dinner, they'll credit the cost of parking off your bill, so says their site. That's worth trying.

The entrance is a bit awkward. There's a small room where a hostess would typically stand, but instead, they tell you to proceed through to the main dining area. It's a little awkward because it plops you right out into the main area, which is an open space. We were seated along the back wall.

The interior is lovely with some fine attention to detail. And like at Lira, you can dine within the vault, but there's either a fee to pay or a certain bill amount, I can't remember which.

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Dancing FigThey have specials scrawled on chalkboards on the walls, and the menu is exhaustive. Lots of small plates and pastas. I had a tough time deciding because there are so many good options. There are single and family styles and additional options for other dishes. There's a lot going on here.

For an appetizer, we split a single order of pierogies - rustic style. This means they essentially were just topped with sauerkraut. I was hesitant about this option, but the other two ways the pierogies can be prepared looked boring. I was surprised to find that instead of a powerful punch, this dish was sort of quiet on the palate. There wasn't that strong sauerkraut taste. It was kind of boring, actually. The pierogies were crisp on the outside, which was good. It was fine, just nothing super impressive. Needs some more spices and flavor to amp it up.

Dancing FigWith the pasta dishes comes a side house salad, so my next course was this lovely plate of greens, tomato, cucumber, shaved red onion and chipped asiago in a balsamic-basil vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is something I'd like to bottle up and take home (if this is store-bought, please let me know so I can purchase). But it was lovely. So tasty that I devoured this whole salad easily. Not to mention the cucumber had a perfect crunch and tomato had a good balance between sweet and acidic. It was just lovely. For being such a simple salad, it impressed me. Beautiful blend of flavor and quality ingredients do it for me.

Dancing FigOkay main dish was the "Pasta Salvio," which had jumbo tiger shrimp, sauteed with garlic and roasted red peppers, in a bleu cheese vodka sauce served over fresh made pasta. This dish was pretty good. I was expecting it to be a bit creamier with a kick, but it was more peppery/tomato-ey. It was still tasty - lots of flavor and attention to the combination of ingredients. I would totally order it again, but not under the assumption that I had going into it originally. Instead, it's a great dish if you're looking for those more hearty pepper flavors. Less creamy - thought I think that would take this dish to the next level. Pretty good, nonetheless.

Dancing FigBrittany ordered the filet duo, which had both a blackened beef and rosemary pork with tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic reduction, prosciutto and salami crisps. Both were tasty - but the pork was phenomenal from the one bite of it that I had.

Dancing FigFor dessert, we both went with the pumpkin creme brulee. You have to really be into pumpkin to eat this. And I am. After breaking through brittle sugar coating, it's really a thick, pumpkin filling. It's kind of dense. It's easier to eat, say, a pumpkin pie with this much flavor because it's lighter and fluffy. When you're eating this sort of blob of pumpkin, it can be too much. I think if it were a bit lighter, it would've been perfect.

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I wavered between an A and a B here. I wish the appetizer had been more impressive. I loved my salad. I liked my main entree and the dessert. With tiny tweaks - and considering they're fairly new still - I don't think it'd be hard for this to be an A in my book. But for now, I wish the main entree had slightly more depth and the dessert - a little less.

Grade: B
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