Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Figs
LaGuardia Airport, NY
Review by Diana DeRiggs

You know the reputation of airport food. Matt Groenig, the author of Life in Hell and The Simpsons summarized it best when he created "Akbar & Jeff's Airport Café" -- "Where the elite meet defeat on our concrete." The two little freaks exchange witty reparté, such as "Hope you like your eggs extra crispy!" and "Glass of water, $9.95, please!" Actually, airport food and prices have improved considerably, but it still retains that old taint.

We were stuck at the airport waiting for a plane from Chicago, which had been delayed due to the ubiquitous Friday night "weather" -- thunderstorms, etc. We wouldn't be fed by the airline, so we wandered around the LAG main terminal's downstairs foodcourt to find some inspiration. Mall-style Chinese? Dry deli meats? Empanadas on steroids? Oh, the choices!

Set a bit away from the main offerings was Figs, which looks like one of those airport bar lounges sans walls. It looks expensive. But we were in rotten moods and decided to try the place -- they at least had leather-covered banquettes and arm chairs that looked comfy, and the prices were not horrible.

Hungry, we ordered Buffalo chicken wings, a salad of baby spinach and warm bacon dressing, an eggplant parmagiano sandwich on foccacia, and marinaded hangar steak on a mound of mashed potatoes and watercress. Dinner came with a basket of tasty foccacia and a little bowl of olive oil.

The wings came with two dipping sauces -- hot sauce and bleu cheese dressing. Unlike other places, the wings were fried and served without the hot sauce on them, so you could cater to your preferred level of heat. If you don't mind double-dipping, you could sear your mouth with every bite. The salty bacon dressing made for a tasty wilted salad, but I think I might have preferred "adult" spinach instead for its stronger flavor and texture. The eggplant sandwich wasn't bad, good enough to have the leftovers packed up for later. The pièce de resistance was the hangar steak -- juicy, flavorful, it was what that English standby, Shepherd's Pie, should have been (rather than granular, bland yet stale, and always the same!).

We were tempted by the white chocolate bread pudding on the dessert offerings, but we went for pseudo (very pseudo) healthy and picked the carrot cake. Also on offer were the standards: cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, apple pie, ice cream. The carrot cake was separated by layers of cream cheese frosting, very sweet, crunchy with walnuts. The coffee was good, too.

So what could have been a really really cranky start to a trip turned out to be a pleasant surprise. We were contentedly full, and it left us with enough time to saunter to the departure gate and make a couple of phonecalls.

You know, it'd be a good place to surprise a date! Can you imagine? "I promise you a superlative dinner, my love! Meet you at the airport, basement of the main terminal!" Life surprises you in funny ways, like a reasonable, good restaurant at the airport! If he or she doesn't show up, dump 'em -- you have more to do in your life than date a humorless twit!


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