Salty Fig serves up 'rustic new American' cuisine in Western Springs

Sunday, September 2, 2018
Hungry Hound: Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry in Western Springs
Hungry Hound: Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry in Western Springs

WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill. (WLS) -- Located directly along the Metra Line, Western Springs is home to many commuters who take the train each day for work.

But serious food lovers may want to take the train for some creative, delicious creations inspired by the Mediterranean and the American South at the Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry.

Co-owner Suzanne Florek's culinary influences can be summarized in about seven words: "I grew up in Madrid and Louisville."

That Spanish upbringing, combined with Florek's time in Kentucky and stints at Spiaggia and Tutto Posto in the city, have all led her back home to Western Springs, where she and her husband opened the Salty Fig earlier this year, directly across from the train station.

"The thing that everybody always wants to put you in a box with food. As long as you play along the lines of flavors combining well together, then you can put a Mediterranean flatbread with a Peruvian ceviche," said Florek.

And that decoratively garnished salmon ceviche is one of many international nods. There's also pan con tomate with olives from Spain, and a Middle Eastern chicken skewer - marinated in garlic, thyme, cumin and lemon - set over a bed of yogurt tahini, draped in cilantro sauce.

The skewer is paired with watermelon and tomatoes, doused in crunchy pumpkin and sesame seeds, then served with fresh, homemade naan.

"When I started writing the menu for here, I was on my back porch and I had a long sheet of paper and I wrote down everything that I loved about different parts of food. Then I circled and tied them all together and then wrote the menu," Florek said.

Shiitake and cremini mushrooms form the base of a hearty soup with bits of chorizo and romesco - that's a blend of almonds, roasted red peppers, sherry vinegar and garlic.

There's also a pork tenderloin sandwich, inspired by Japan and the American South.

"We slice those, then we pound them thin, then we sandwich two of them together, the inside is provolone and ham and bread-and-butter pickles," said Florek.

Breaded in panko bread crumbs and fried, the tenderloin is served on toasted brioche buns that have been slathered with pimento cheese, mayo, house-made pickles and tiny French green beans. It's another mash-up that works.

"I think the world is kind of a melting pot, so we call ourselves rustic new American," she said.

So an ambitious breakfast program, an all-day menu plus a dinner program that allows you to get dinner prepared the next day, as long as you order by 5 p.m. the day before.

Extra Course: A closer look at one of the baked goods from Salty Fig - a meringue that's stuffed with salted almonds and dried cherries


Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry

909 Burlington Ave., Western Springs