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San Clemente Journal

[email protected] - New Restaurant Shines in an Historic Building

Dec 20, 2018 08:46PM ● By Don Kindred
by Briana Denney

They say that good things happen when the time is right. That is why after waiting 10 years for the building at 313 El Camino to come available on the market, new owners Gus and Gosia Dahabreh were finally able to snatch it up, and create their dream restaurant, [email protected] 

Located in the ever-expanding downtown area of San Clemente, [email protected] resides in a 1927 historic building that has been brought back to life with a lush Farmhouse garden look. Originally this building was Riley’s Waffle and Coffee Shop, with onsite housing behind the restaurant. Gus and Gosia spared no expense on the remodel and worked with architect Charles Ram. Gosia’s eye for interior design carries through the intimate interior dining area, where reservations are highly recommended if you do not want to dine outside. 

The outdoor dining patio area is quite large and very charming. A water fountain creates ambiance and blocks out the bustle of El Camino Real. A large out door firepit is also available to dine around. Beautiful landscape surrounds the Ole Hanson style property, as if you stepped away into a distant place. For private dining, a wonderfully designed private room with a fireplace is open for parties of eight or more at no extra charge.
Owners Gus and Gosia are not new to the restaurant business. They have owned and operated Luigi’s Italian in Huntington Beach for over 20 years. Although very grounded in Italian fare, their vision for Fig was quite different. Gosia says she and her husband put high expectations on themselves for Fig. They had a strong desire to challenge themselves and bring a menu that allowed for immense creativity. Blending tastes from around the world, this shines through with Chef Matt Sirjani. He works directly with the restaurant owners on creating and developing their ever-changing seasonal menu and has a heavy influence on all dishes served. Matt says he is very fulfilled with his freedom to create and the trust that has been bestowed on him at [email protected]

Matt serves up unique twists to somewhat common dishes, and they are unlike anything else. Try their Provoleta. Grilled provolone cheese atop a layer of thinly sliced pears, topped with port figs and a port reduction, paired with roasted tomatoes. Every bite puts out a different combination of flavors. How does Chef Matt come up with this? Although Fig is considered to be New American Cuisine, three years in Argentina as a wine maker is what has influenced Chef Matt’s culinary skills the most. Often the wine makers would get together and create dishes to pair with the wine. With no true formal culinary training, Matt sure can compete with the best of them, and his presentation skills are second to none. Colorful edible flowers liven up many of their dishes.

Constant fresh deliveries from locally sourced vendors is important to Fig. Fresh grilled cauliflower with brussels, bacon, and fried egg is another appetizer that will get your tastes buds going. Many playful concoctions to choose from like their goat cheese fondue. Vegan Ravioli and other vegetarian items offer a delightful dish for everyone. Their fall menu includes squash pasta and pumpkin pesto.  

[email protected]’s main course dinner menu includes classical cuisine items such as Lobster Ravioli and Cornish Hen with a modern twist in every bite. Desserts change out every day, with three to choose from, and are not on the menu. If you happen to visit on a night they have the deconstructed Mud Pie, you are in for a treat. The Chocolate Mousse is so silky and has just the right amount of chocolate.

Mixologist Nate Duffy, who won this year’s SC Mixology Judge’s Choice Award, has come on board with [email protected] and is producing come pretty crafty cocktails. House made Fig Whisky is currently being batched for a specialty drink called Midnight Fig. A local favorite “yet to be named” is an Avion Reposado tequila-based drink with pineapple, orange liquor, and house made rosemary salt. 

Talk about perfect timing and having all just fall perfectly into place. [email protected] was meant to be for SC. A beautiful historical building in wonderfully hungry SC, acquires two amazing restaurant owners, who happen along ambitious Chef Matt and mixology genius Nate Duffy. With [email protected] being open for business just over two months, this is a definite power team. Let’s all just hope they launch their Sunday brunch sooner than later.

Currently [email protected] is open daily from 5 to 10pm. Located at 313 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente.