‘Fig’ Shines Bright in the Luminarium

Reviewed by Chris Corey
May 22, 2024
the fig bacon egg and cheese sandwich on a white plate

Fig occupies the south end of the Kiewit Luminarium on Lewis & Clark Landing downtown and has separate entrances for museum patrons and the general public. Upon stepping inside, you see a bright, spacious dining area with cascading rows of warm lights and large windows overlooking the Missouri River. It’s vivid, fresh and inviting, very much like the items on the menu.

At the helm is executive chef Gabriel Bon Sosa, who grew up cooking with his mother. As a single mom, she helped him develop a passion for food at a young age. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Massachusetts, he has been cooking professionally for the past 18 years, opening several restaurants including Fig.

“Life is too short to want to just eat one type of food,” Bon Sosa said. “Food is a form of art that you can see instant gratification from. You can evoke emotions and feeling in people with food and it’s a really cool thing to be able to do.”

My wife, Jennifer, and I visited Fig on two occasions: once for breakfast and the other for a late lunch.

chia vanilla pudding at fig in the luminarium

The chia vanilla pudding.

For breakfast, we tried the chia pudding, bacon egg & cheese sandwich, the curry chicken salad and the fig toast.

We also had a dirty chai latte, which I bring up because it’s often difficult to find this type of latte done well. It’s tends to be either spice-heavy or too sweet. Not so here, as the dirty chai was a perfect blend of sweet spices that still allowed the bitterness of the coffee to cut through. As the first thing we experienced at Fig, we were off to a great start.

The chia pudding is a light breakfast selection that can stand on its own with a nice cup of coffee or a complement to other items on the menu. The vanilla bean chia pudding is made with coconut milk, strawberry jam, berry compote and topped with crunchy almond granola. The prominent notes of vanilla and coconut blend delightfully with the jam, berries and granola.

I always appreciate a great egg sandwich, and Bon Sosa’s bacon egg & cheese is a good enough reason to keep coming back on its own. It’s served on a sourdough Pain de Mie bun with melted cheddar, a light and tangy mayo, thick, perfectly cooked bacon and quite possibly the fluffiest egg I’ve ever had on a sandwich. The bun is pillow-soft and infuses just enough sourdough to complement the other ingredients. Just prior to serving, the egg is popped back in the oven to make it good and fluffy.

fig's curry chicken salad sandwich

The curry chicken salad.

The chicken curry sandwich is deceptively good. At first glance, it looks like a curry chicken salad between standard sandwich bread. The sourdough bread is anything but ordinary – fresh, airy and light. The chicken is tender and perfectly blended with curry spice, celery, plump golden raisins and topped with butter leaf lettuce. This would be a fine introduction to curry for someone who hasn’t tried it yet while also satisfying those who crave it.

toast with figs. ricotta chèvre spread topped with balsamic and sprouts

The fig toast.

The fig toast is served on sourdough with ricotta chèvre spread, toasted walnuts, soft, sweet black mission figs topped with fresh sprouts and a balsamic reduction. It comes on two slices. The piece I grabbed was heavy on the balsamic, which overwhelmed the other elements. Jennifer’s piece was much better balanced and, presumably, what was intended. It was a nice, creamy bite with the bold flavors of fig and balsamic as the star, rounded out by the delicate crunch of the walnuts.

For lunch we sampled the burger, the lox bagel and the mushroom grilled cheese.

a lox bagel with salmon cucumbers and pickled onions on top outside the luminarium

The lox bagel.

The Lox Bagel, with gravlax, cream cheese mixed with dill, cucumber, pickled red onion, fried capers on an everything bagel topped with fresh sprouts. The gravlax is slightly chopped, opposed to shavings, and allows the salmon to have more presence without knocking out the other elements. The co-star of the Lox Bagel is the picked red onion. It gently cuts across the heavier side of the cream cheese and punctuates the fresh salmon.

mushroom swiss grilled cheese sandwich at luminarium's fig

The mushroom grilled cheese.

The mushroom grilled cheese was a pleasant surprise. It’s made with a blend of Swiss and cheddar cheese, pickled mushrooms and arugula on rustic sourdough toast. Upon first bite, I expected a savory sandwich, which it is. But a nice burst of mild sweetness comes through, elevating it to a delectably cheesy, sweet, savory experience. That sweetness comes from the mushrooms, which are expertly pickled in a mixture developed by Bon Sosa and his sous chef. This is one of the heavier items on Fig’s menu, yet the coupling of savory and sweet makes this a grilled cheese to remember.

the burger at fig, show outside on a table overlooking the missouri river outside the luminarium

The burger at Fig.

The burger just might rival some of the best in Omaha. Bon Sosa keeps this burger simple and lets the white cheddar, tomato, lettuce and mayo compliment a perfectly cooked, juicy patty. The Pan de Mie Bun, the exact same as the egg sandwich, is a key part of the burger’s assembly. It’s abnormal to describe a burger as hearty-but-light-and-refreshing, yet that’s exactly what it is.

Bon Sosa has put his personal touch on this menu. The mushroom Swiss grilled cheese, the way the burger is constructed, the hummus and the curry chicken salad recipe are all his design. Recent additions from his repertoire are the fig toast and the avocado toast.

Fig’s ingredients are locally sourced from places like Lone Tree Foods and Flavor Country Farms. Bon Sosa tries to source locally wherever possible.

All of Fig’s bread comes from Lola’s Bakery, and every bread offering is sourdough-based.

Meanwhile, Fig’s future is bright. A dinner service is coming soon, and while it’s still in development, Bon Sosa says, “The menu will be elevated pub style food.”

Familiar items will remain on the dinner menu, such as the burger and the chicken sandwich. New items will be added, such as a risotto and a lamb and a salmon dish. Given Bon Sosa’s creativity, the new menu will likely be impressive.

“I’m looking forward to people getting to enjoy the riverfront at night a little more and have a place they can sit down and have a glass of wine, cocktail or beer and have some good food,” Bon Sosa said.

Count me in.

Fig.

345 Riverfront Dr,
Omaha, NE 68102

(531) 999-1284

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