After a 27 year run, The Barbary Fig closed in September 2016.
Despite its location on St. Paul's busy Grand Avenue, the Barbary Fig is the kind of neighborhood restaurant where the service has a laid-back friendliness and the menu is one page long. It's located in a converted house (the kitchen takes up the first floor, with a dining room on the second floor and a patio in the front yard), and the menu features Mediterranean cuisine with a Greek and North African focus. There's lots of lamb, as well as a couple of vegetarian and chicken entrees.
Mike was in the mood for something light, so he opted for the puree of artichoke and goat cheese appetizer. The puree is served over a salad, with pieces of grilled eggplant, tomatoes, olives, and walnuts. The puree had a interesting depth of flavor from the goat cheese and was well complemented by the slight smokiness of the grilled eggplant.
The lemon apricot favas are served over rice, with seasonal vegetables. Rice and bean dishes are often mono-textural, but in this case the al dente fava beans and crisp-tender carrots and zucchini provided a nice textural contrast to the rice. The quantity of lemon apricot sauce was just right, adding a bright fruitiness without overwhelming the dish with sweetness.
The bourek, a chocolate and hazelnut filled pastry drizzled with honey and lavender, was a bit of a disappointment. Although the combination of the chocolate and hazelnut filling and honey was delicious, the pastry was tough and dry, while the lavender added an unpleasant bitterness.
The creme caramel lived up to its name, with a silky creaminess and rich caramel flavor. It was particularly refreshing when paired with an iced mint tea-a perfect dessert for a hot summer evening.
Although the menu may be short and the surroundings modest, the Barbary Fig’s well-composed Mediterranean cuisine has deservedly made it a Grand Avenue fixture since 1989.
The Barbary Fig
720 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105