Tuesday, May 1, 2012

five bistro (2) - st. louis, mo

5100 daggett avenue
st. louis, mo 63110

back in september of 2011, carrie and i made our first visit to five bistro during lunch service to sample their highly regarded burger. while the restaurant's claim to fame lived up to the hype of best burger in st. louis*, it was also quite clear from the other items we sampled along with what is offered on the dinner menu that there is a lot more to five than just a tasty burger. chef anthony devoti's menu changes daily based on what is fresh and available locally, a feet made possible by the restaurant's close relationship with many local farms, ranches, and creameries.
arriving on "the hill" roughly half and hour early for our 6pm. reservation, carrie and i were met with an empty dining room, and as such had no issues being seated. we were told the nighly menus were being printed, and were given a wine and cocktail list to peruse in the meantime. after a few minutes, we put in an order for cocktails, and were finally presented with food menus (with the wrong date printed on them...). dinner at five is available al a carte, but the best value is easily the four course tasting with wine pairings for $60. with a relatively small menu of just three or four choices per course, ordering was a breeze, and in no time carrie and i agreed on our meals with no duplicate courses.
kickback cocktail - bulleit rye whiskey, alvear solera 1927 sherry, rothman and winter apricot brandy,
sweet vermouth, lemon juice, aztec chocolate bitters, and blood orange bitters

mayor plum - nolet’s gin, averell plum gin liqueur, aperol, apricot brandy, and lemon & sparkeling rosé
the amuse for the night was piedmontese beef with pickled daikon, white asparagus, and truffle oil.
following the beef was house made bread with olive oil and cracked pepper. served warm, the bread was fairly basic but quite tasty.
for my first course, i went with the risotto al ragu. this was arborio rice, fitchner farm piedmontese beef ragu, newt and heather's parsely, butter, and parmigiano-reggiano. served with a pour of barera, this was a decent opening volley, but wasn't overly exciting, leaving me wondering if the salmon tartar would have been more my speed.
for carrie it was the steamed mussels in a sauce of white wine, herbs de provence, and butter served with aioli covered toast. while the bread went virtually untouched, carrie was quite fond of the mussels, and i can also say that the two i was allowed were definitely good. when prompted later that night to name her favorite course of the meal, it was this offering that carrie deemed to be the best.
moving on to course number two, my dish was the belleville white asparagus salad plated with house cured prosciutto, a poached chicken egg, and a cheese from shepards crook dairy called 'alucard'. for me, this was the strongest course of the meal, with the sweetness of the white asparagus being lovely with both the salty prosciutto and the tangy cheese. the egg was also a welcome addition to the fray, with its runny yolk elevating the flavors even further. a riesling was paired with this course.
although listed on the menu as a puree of rissi farm potato and cream with claverach farm micro arugula and house made creme fraiche, our server came out a few minutes before this dish was served to note the soup was made with turnips instead of potatoes. deeming this ok and actually favorable, the dish arrived moments later and was definitely good. served with a chardonnay, the soup was rich and had a marked sweetness to it from the turnips.
moving forward to the main entrees, i selected the benne's farm pork loin with prarie breeze white cheddar polenta, claverach farm pea shoots, and a red wine reduction. while the pork was tender and had decent flavor overall, i actually found the white cheddar polenta to be the star of the dish as i really liked the grainy texture and strong cheese flavor.
carrie's choice was the fitchner farm piedmontese beef two ways (braised short rib and chuck roast) with yukon gold potato puree, ramps, turnips, and asparagus. being that carrie was abnormally hungry, i was only allowed a bite, thus not really having the chance to form my own opinion.
for dessert, two composed plates along with a sorbet offering were available. pictured above is my choice, the chocolate angel food cake with mint gelato and macerated strawberries. good but by no means great.
for carrie it was the strawberry filled doughnut with balsamic gelato. this was easily the most successful of the two desserts, as i was excited for a flavor combination that took a risk and actually made me think a little bit.

summing up my thoughts as a whole on our dinner at five is somewhat difficult for me, as i am afraid i have become somewhat jaded in regards to dining. over the past two years, i have had some incredible meals, with the first four months of 2012 being absolutely amazing. while i certainly didn't go into dinner at five expecting a meal rivaling the best of chicago and new york, i left wondering if the money i spent would have been better saved towards a future food vacation. at its price point, five definitely has a good thing going, and i would have no problem recommending the restaurant to people who do not dine out as their number one hobby. overall, nothing was bad (in fact everything was good), but to put it plainly i simply see no reason to repeat the experience. 

*note on the burger, i would love to return to five again for another as it is truly awesome. however, now that lunch service is no longer offered and the burger is only available after 10pm on thursday, friday, and saturday nights, i doubt such a thing will occur as the last thing i want at that hour is a huge burger and fries.

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