With my dad hailing from the holy land of the fig (the Middle East), it was my ancestral duty to finally make it to the new bakery/café right on Highland Ave in Somerville that has the sweet fruit in its name. As you might guess, 3 Little Figs is all in the family. From the name and locale to the size, decor and staff, this place is cute as a button. If I owned a bakery it would be nearly identical to 3 Little Figs: the space is small but airy and bright, the decor is shabby-chic without an emphasis on one over the other, production is done on a small scale, the menu is modest but complete. There are even hanging lighting fixtures made of what look like old Hobart mixer whisk attachments. How cute is that?
I spent last Saturday Christmas shopping and wanted to quell my afternoon hunger with something that screamed “holiday.” I couldn’t think of anything, but I knew that 3 Little Figs uses local and seasonal ingredients, so I could find something savory and sweet that at least screamed “winter.” 3 Little Figs delivered. I felt fantastically festive and frightfully full after leaving, and that’s all I wanted.
Spinach Pie was warm and comforting. Unlike many, this one was perfectly balanced. The important filling to phyllo ratio was spot on. Sometimes when I eat spinach pie, I get really giddy, because I spot a marble-sized bite of feta, eat it up and then go many bites before hitting more cheese. The feta in this one was evenly strewn through the piles of spinach. The lemony bite was pleasantly prominent without being bitter. The only downfall was that it got overly brown and dry when heated for us. Menu items are accompanied by cucumber slices drizzled with a fruity extra virgin olive oil — a nice Greek touch.
The “Village” sandwich probably would have impressed me more if I hadn’t enjoyed Crema Cafe‘s rendition of a sweet potato sandwich many a time. Hearty, soul-satisfying Iggy’s Seven Grain bread was an earthy package for roasted sweet potatoes and a generous smear of their best friend, goat cheese. Sundried tomato was a surprising addition and although applied unevenly, the tomatoes added more sweetness but in a bright, briny way. A drizzle of good olive oil offset another of floral honey. It was a good sandwich, but I would have preferred a little more arugula to add a peppery bite and cut some of the sweetness. Also, the bread was toaster-oven warm, while the filling was refrigerator cold.
Dessert was humble and heavenly. The baked goods here should be savored on the couch with a warm cup of tea. They’re incredibly fresh and adorably homey. Since I was on the hunt for season’s eatings, I sampled (and sampled and sampled) some treats that I thought may not show up on the rotation as winter progresses. The apple cider donut muffin was different than I expected. First of all, it was huge and totally shareable. The café was a little chilly, but I immediately warmed up after taking a bite into the intensely crispy shell, blanketed by a storm of cinnamon and sugar. The inside cake was dense, not fluffy and heavily spiced with a clean apple flavor. Tiny apple chunks studded the moist muffin. I’ve never felt so comforted by a dessert. Don’t be tempted by mini donut muffins sold in packages — they looked moist and sticky due to their packaging.
Last post, I rambled on about eggnog desserts that don’t taste like eggnog. Thus, it was with much trepidation that I ordered a slice of eggnog loaf cake. This tight-crumbed, picture-perfect specimen of a pound cake was just as eggnogy as it was buttery. An organic eggnog glaze carried the most concentrated punch of nog. The glaze was a tad too sweet for my taste but was a nice pairing for the rich cake.
I’m embarrassed to say, there was even more to satiate my seasonal itch. A spiced cranberry muffin that was more cake than muffin helped me wake up right the next morning and was a nice change from the always-bitter cranberry orange muffins that are so ubiquitous this time of year.
The baklava was more spiced and less sticky than many — a twist I welcomed. A well-textured filling of larger chunks of vibrant green pistachios and finer bits of walnuts took center stage but somehow stayed neat between layers of crispy phyllo.
I left 3 Little Figs feeling like a little pig and already planning my next visit to try “The Market” and any cakey concoction that’s featured, because they’re all delicious and made with love.