Bradley Ogden is designing the menu for Moreton Fig, a new restaurant from the chef's Lark Creek Restaurant Group that promises to be the "crown jewel" of USC's Ronald Tutor Campus Center when it opens in August. Whether or not that proves true, we're sure it's going to beat eating at the dining hall. So, what will it look like and, more importantly, what's Ogden putting on the menu?
The 8,000 square-foot restaurant, the campus' first table-service restaurant, will be LEED-certified with an outdoor lounge and patio stocked with a grill to serve the campus during game days and food festivals. Named for the two fig trees flanking its entrance, Moreton Fig will have space for 75 outside and 130 inside, where an open kitchen, modern wood and leather motif, and private dining room for twelve set the tone.
Besides the fact that a lot of pocket money flows through this corridor of South Central, the reason for the restaurant being here boils down to Lark Creek's co-founder and CEO, Michael Dellar, who is an alum and chose the school for this project, which aims to be a casual spot with quality affordable eats for the students and community. To that end, all seafood will be sustainable and family farms, local and organic, will provide the ingredients where possible.
Ogden's plates, co-created by Lark Creek's culinary director Adrian Hoffman, will cover seasonal lunch and dinner, with a lounge menu in between and even a few cocktails, presumably for those with tenure. There will be plenty of vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options on-hand and fresh fruit mock-tails for the person who forgets they're on a college campus.
The food sounds simple, delicate, and enlivening, if not exactly budget-friendly compared to Nutella sandwiches and falafel. There's fritto misto, stonefruit bruschetta, tomato carpaccio, and sides of jalapeno-honey cornbread and deviled ranch eggs. In addition to soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches will reign at lunch, with blackened Mahi Mahi sliders for $12.50, a house-ground chuck burger for $10.50, and a fried chicken sandwich for $11.50.
Main courses at lunch will find everything from a bacon-wrapped meatloaf to wild king salmon with cous cous for $19.50. Dinner options include a pot roast with turnips, chard, and grated horseradish and organic half chicken with pumpernickel spaetzle and green tomato. Roasted plum crepes with Armagnac and gingerbread ice cream sundaes follow.
We love Ogden's food and agree that this is quite the victory for improving these students' lunches, but we already sort of hate the kid who's snacking on chard for lunch and indulging in Armagnac and plums before bed. Okay, you're right, we're totally just jealous.
Look for Moreton Fig in late-summer or early fall.