J.P. Two Ways

Fig’s chef serves down home Southern and upscale continental.

By Jan Walsh

There are no rules at Fig. But there is a lot of talent. Chef J.P. Holland draws from his Southern heritage, and from his boyhood family’s kitchens, to create some of the best fried chicken and mashed potatoes you can find on a plate. Oh, did I mention the gravy? And on the opposite side of the table, he is a culinary critic of in season seafood, catching what others miss, such as yellow grouper, as well as flavors from other continents.

Today we are on the deck for Saturday brunch. It is our first time to dine out since the mask order was lifted. And it is a breath of fresh air to see the smiles of other Fig patrons here today. We order a Bloody Maria and French sparkling rosé.

We opt to split an Avocado Toast and add a fried egg and sriracha honey. Although we are sharing this as an appetizer, it is on the sandwich menu and could easily become a meal if you added other offerings to top it off: bacon, fried green tomatoes, grilled or fried chicken, and filet mignon. The toast arrives slathered with creamy avocado along with sriracha, and is layered with heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese, and topped with a fried egg over medium. As I cut the toast for sharing the egg yolk runs out, coating the toast with its golden goodness. This fusion of flavors and textures delights the palate and finishes with a hint of sriracha heat.

Kev’s Chicken Fried Chicken is a beautiful bird. Crisp and golden on the outside, white and moist on the inside… not sure what his secret batter is but this chicken is better than my grandmother’s. It is smothered in a gorgeous gravy, as are the marvelous mashed potatoes. Both are smooth and creamy, bursting with comforting, Southern flavors.

I order the Dayboat Catch of line-caught fish from Greg Abrams in Panama City. And J.P. offers to prepare today’s catch of yellow grouper with the set from the dinner menu. I happily agree… My fish arrives floating on a bed of crab and asparagus bisque with roasted potatoes, roasted red bell peppers, and sprinkled with goat cheese and micro greens. One bite of this melt in my mouth fish and I am hooked. The yellow grouper is a flakier, more fork tender fish, with bigger muscle texture than black grouper. And its Florida flavors whisper… fresh from the boat to the Fig in every bite. No citrus needed.

Before we part, J.P. has one more dish he wants me to try. So, we order another round of drinks and relax. Soon he appears with two ears of golden Florida corn with husks intact, which he just grilled in Peruvian spices and Peruvian olive oil. And it is dusted with Patagonian pecorino, adding a touch of tang to finish the corn. Each bite of corn bursts with the milky juice of the delicate kernels melding with the Peruvian spices, making a corn on the cob like no other.



Everything, all ways, is highly recommended!


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