TOWN OF NIAGARA – I’ve become a fan of freelance writer and Internet blogger Robert Brault. As if it weren’t enough that he, at 74, appears to have a much better grasp of the technological than many of his generation, he also seems to make perfect sense – which further separates him from most of the rest of us.
He penned this gem some time ago: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Now, that’s not necessarily the most profound thing ever uttered, and you can take it for what you will. As a restaurant critic, I interpret it in terms of food.
My most recent restaurant visit reinforced the opinion that it is, indeed, the little things that make all the difference.
Figgy’s Town Restaurant – the building itself – is a very “little thing.” Well, the dining area, anyway. With just a smattering of tables, it would be hard-pressed to handle a gathering of the Darcy Regier Fan Club. We’re talking small.
But you know what they say about the small ones: They work harder, because they have to. Figgy’s falls right in line with that theory – and that is precisely where we separate the men from the mice in the cutthroat world of “lounge food.”
When you get right down to it, there frequently isn’t much to distinguish one place from the next. I mean, a burger is a burger, isn’t it? One place may have a slightly more extensive menu than another, but when it comes down to quality, they’re all pretty much the same, right?
Not necessarily. This is where Figgy’s draws the line, steps over the “mice” and firmly aligns with the “men.” Figgy’s does the “little things” right.
It’s the “little things” that make Mom’s sauce better than store-bought, that lift “home cooking” above restaurants, that separate “cooks” from “chefs.” So it is with Figgy’s.
I had an Italian panini (about $9) that consisted of salami, hot ham, provolone and roasted red peppers. I’ve had the same sandwich from probably 10 different places in my life.
The difference was, this one was really good! And the difference was largely the bread – or, more appropriately, the attention paid to the bread. The real flavor of this sandwich came from the outside; the bread was nicely grilled to a sweet and slightly salty crust. It set the sandwich off perfectly.
The filling was neither stingy nor overdone. Perfect amounts of meats and cheese blended the flavors nicely, resulting in a nearly perfect panini. Kudos!
My wife’s Greek wrap (also around $9) was big and tasty with a lot of dressing. Maybe a little too much (if that’s possible), because it tended to make the wrap a little soggy and a lot drippy. Don’t get me wrong. The dressing was tasty. But too much can sometimes overpower the other ingredients – or cause them to head for the hills prematurely.
As it was, the onions, black olives and feta cheese stayed put and nicely complemented the marinated chicken. Another winner!
Figgy’s prides itself on its stuffed burgers, and my daughter’s bacon-cheddar burger (again, $9) was different enough to distinguish itself from other entries in the category. It was thick, all right, and the bacon and cheese came through just fine. It appears Figgy’s likes to serve their burgers with a nice, seared “crust” to the meat, which left it a little dry.
Speaking of crusty, the toasted bun was what really set this sandwich apart. “Crunchy and nice!” Meagan noted. She also enjoyed a serving of sweet potato fries, nicely crisped and served with a honey-butter mixture on top that really imparted a distinct taste, without the messy dipping.
I topped my meal off with a bowl of “pasta fazool,” or pasta and beans soup ($4). Granted, it’s kind of an acquired taste, and can sometimes be interpreted as bland, but this was a good bowl of soup, appearing to be set off with a dose of bacon. It was hot and tasty, and made me feel like I was back at Mom’s for Sunday dinner.
Even the little touches one might normally overlook – the chips and pickle alongside the sandwiches – were well done. That goes to show that the folks at Figgy’s leave nothing to chance.
Yes, the dining room is small, and the menu not much bigger, but what they offer is prepared lovingly. As such, it takes some time to reach you, but be patient. You’ll be glad you were.
Figgy’s opened in November and only recently got its liquor license. It’s a little off the beaten path, and if you don’t pay close attention you’ll drive right past. Remember, it’s between the Whistle Pig and the Burger King.
And until next time, remember this Braultism: “Never believe anything that requires you to hate people who do not believe it.”
Words to live by.