Because we are foodies, and because Charleston has a reputation as a "foodie" city, I did a lot of research before reserving at 4 restaurants for our recent 4-night stay in the city. How surprised I was to find out that we could only get early or (very) late reservations at 3 of them, even though I called nearly 2 weeks in advance. Now I know why.
We were strolling along Meeting Street early in the afternoon of our first day when we stumbled on FIG, where we were scheduled to dine that evening. We nearly passed it by. The restaurant, which straddles the corner of Meeting and Hassell Streets is so unprepossessing that we thought it was a luncheonette. No fancy awning; no blow-ups of rave reviews in the windows; no fancy sign - nothing that would give a clue to the fact that this restaurant owns a stellar reputation with both professional writers and the dining public as well.
Surprised, and not knowing what to expect, we showed up on the dot for our 6:15 dinner, having skipped lunch in eager anticipation. From the minute we walked in the front door, the whole atmosphere changed. It was almost like getting into a dull gray 1947 Ford and finding a 2013 engine with Mario Andretti at the wheel.
From the warm and friendly greeting by the manager, to the snug booth-for-two sitting by itself at the very back of the restaurant, to our young lady server, to the menu and the taste of the food, everything was PERFECT.
We are New Yorkers, and we travel a lot; one of our benchmarks for a really good restaurant (besides the quality of the food, of course) is the knowledge and training of the waitstaff. Nothing drives me more nuts than having a server say, when questioned about a dish, "Well, I never eat" - fill in the blank: fish, veal, pasta, steak "but we sell a lot of it." What a ringing endorsement!
Not at FIG. Our server not only knew to the last grain of pepper what made up each and every dish on the menu, she actually gave serious consideration to helping us make a final decision - and even offered an opinion on which she thought we would prefer. I had an appetizer of tagliatelle which came with a soft-cooked egg that had to be one of the best pasta dishes I have ever eaten - including Rome or Naples. Won't go into the rest of the meal, except to say that the service was paced in such a way that we never felt rushed; all the dishes were presented beautifully and the food was so hot you knew it was whisked out of the kitchen as soon as it came off the pan.
FIG is not cheap; I would say that the prices are comparable to what we pay in the NYC suburb where we live, BUT the quality of the food, the size of the portions, and the entire ambiance would cost 2 to 3 times as much in a comparably rated restaurant in NYC with a famous chef.
Definitely GO. But call well in advance!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.