Marc Neff, owner of the Wild Fig Kitchen in Coarsegold, is all about keeping it fresh.
“We make everything in house,” Marc said. “No canned or bottled items are used.”
Mix that freshness with an eclectic menu of good food and you’ve got a winning combo.
Wild Fig Kitchen, open little more than a month, is located in the old Miner’s Grill spot in Coarsegold. Owned by Marc and his wife Jacqueline, the dining area has been remodeled, and the kitchen upgraded. The Neffs took on the renovation themselves, laying down vinyl wood flooring, painting, and replacing a worn awning. There’s a large straw basket near the back door, stuffed with blankets for outside diners on those chillier mornings. The tables and benches, made by Chris Welker of Fresno, come from pine trees, killed off by bark beetle infestation.
Nothing was thrown together, but was carefully thought out beforehand.
“We wanted this place to be inviting and peaceful,” Jacqueline said. “A cozy place to slow down, to relax and have a good meal, and forget about all the day’s distractions.”
After all the hard work, coming up with the name was easy. The couple just had to look out the back door. Wild Fig is named after the huge fig tree, offering plenty of shade to customers sitting in the patio area.
The Neffs aren’t new to the food industry. After operating a successful catering business in Orange County and running Cafe Neff in the early 1980s, the couple owned and operated Firefall Cafe in the Raley’s Shopping Center for a couple of years before selling in 2000.
In the years between Firefall and Wild Fig, Mark commuted to Orange County each week for his catering business, Neff & Neff. He also worked as food director for several years at Calvin Crest. Jacqueline has taught first grade at Oakhurst Elementary School since 2003.
Much to the delight of Firefall fans, some of the items popular there have carried over to Wild Fig, which offers a customer favorite - Chinese Chicken salad, and other specialties like the Cubano (pulled pork), and the Wild Fig Burger, made with fig jam, goat cheese, caramelized onions and arugula.
“I’ve been coming here since Alfonso’s Mexican Restaurant was here, so I’ve seen this place go through several changes and new owners,” said 87-year-old Chuck as he sat enjoying a bowl of oatmeal with raisins one morning last week. “Wild Fig has good food, and some of the same waitresses, who know the ropes, have stayed on. I hope it’s a success because it sure has a good variety and the service is quick.”
Visiting from Seattle, Washington, Alice Morris, sat with her brother Chuck. In between conversation, she slowly relished a freshly-made scone. “This lemon scone is so good,” she said, “and even comes with a small side of fresh lemon curd. Really, really good.”
“While we’re a little more upscale food-wise,” Marc added, “we’re competitively priced with other restaurants in the area. We really have a little something for everyone ... and are kind of like that city cafe you would find in Berkeley or Laguna Beach.”
One recent lunch customer, Carolyn Allison Mikkelsen, called the Butternut Squash Soup “above top shelf,” holding her hand above her head to emphasize the point. “If you haven’t tried Wild Fig, you’re missing out. You’re cheating your mouth out of pure pleasure.”
Wild Fig is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Sundays, closed Mondays. A special brunch menu is available Sundays. The Neffs just acquired their beer and wine license, so will be offering local craft beers and wines soon.
Details: Wild Fig Kitchen is located in the Coarsegold Historic Village on Highway 41, (559) 658-3447.