Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Five & Ten - Athens, Georgia

This weekend we visited Athens, GA, home to the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs. Athens is an eclectic college town and was home to indie bands such as Widespread Panic, the B52's and R.E.M.

Athens is also known for its bike culture and now, most certainly, its great dining. Which brings me to one of the primary reasons for our visit. Chef, restaurateur and author Hugh Acheson is involved with two well known Athens restaurants, The National and Five & Ten. We were in town to eat and boy did we.

In fairness we did do a bit more than just eat. We walked all over downtown, visited the Tree That Owns Itself and shopped. But yeah, mostly we ate. Future posts will cover The National and the town of Athens in general. But we'll start with Five & Ten.

I'm not sure there is anything I can say about Five & Ten that hasn't already been said. Hugh Acheson opened Five & Ten in 2000. The restaurant serves southern cuisine with French and Italian influences. The food is amazing. Truly. It was easily one of our best dining experiences this year. The service is friendly and attentive without being intrusive. We felt well taken care of.

Five & Ten is warm and inviting, like the best neighborhood restaurants that I've ever visited. Like the food, things like fried chicken, low country seafood stew, all the best they can be. Elevated to another level by the skilled kitchen. I could overload this review with superlatives but let me just say the food was great. Just that, great. Well sourced, well prepared, and served by caring and knowledgeable servers.

After going over that nights specials with us, our waiter took our drink orders and left us to decide what we would be eating. The menu is divided into three parts: Snackies, Apps and Mains. After looking at all of the menus (Five & Ten serves a Prix Fixe menu at early dinner. At the time we were there it was $45 for food and the wine pairings) We decided to have the following:

To start we had the Pimiento Cheese with Crostinis. There were small chunks of cheese in the spread and just the right amount of spice. The glass of Riesling I was having was perfect with this.

Next, for apps, we had the Woodland Gardens heirloom tomato salad and the Salad Lyonnaise

Woodland Gardens heirloom tomato salad

Salad Lyonnaise
 The Lyonnaise salad was topped by a perfectly poached egg and accompanied by pork belly lardons. I think they were lardons at least. Whatever you call them they were like bacon to the hundredth power.

We had a hard time deciding on mains so we ordered three. (OK, that's not exactly true. I became so obsessed  with the fried chicken I ordered it after we finished the two mains we originally ordered. I know, I know, but it was SO worth it. The chicken was moist and the ratatouille and creamed celery that came with it were superb.) Now where were we? Oh yeah, mains. We ordered three, the Low Country Frogmore Stew (shrimp, potatoes, corn, andouille sausage, leeks in a tomato broth), the grilled Berkshire Chop with Hoppin John, seared okra, pickled Thomas Orchard peaches with mustard jus and the fried Darby Farms chicken with ratatouille and creamed celery.

Frogmore Stew

Grilled Berkshire Chop

Fried Chicken
 Finally we came to one of my favorites parts of any meal: dessert and coffee. Five & Ten makes a great cup of coffee, the french press decaf I had was flavorful and full bodied.

For dessert we had the Chocolate Nemesis with port poached figs, thyme streusel and cashew crunch ice cream. Oh my! My dinner companion ordered a nice rum to finish his meal and had a bit of the dessert we ordered.

Chocolate Nemesis - words can't do it justice

Well fed, well taken care of and delighted with the entire experience from beginning to end we reluctantly left Five & Ten promising ourselves we'd be back. And we will.


  1. WOW! What an amazing looking meal with some stunning pics! Thanks for sharing these.

    I had a similarly excellent at Waterloo & City in Los Angeles recently. Great portions, $45 for three courses, and one of the best beef wellingtons I've ever eaten. It was no wonder it was rated one of the best new restaurants in 2011 by the JBF.

    Glad you enjoyed yours, I'm jealous.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. It really was a great meal and we had so much fun. :)

      I'm making note of Waterloo & City in LA. My SIL lives out that way and when I finally get out to visit we'll have to go there.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. As your dining companion, I would like to say that the only disappointing aspect of the meal was the rum selection. I understand when looking at their after dinner drink menu, they were more interested in high end distilled corn mash, not distilled molasses (I understand it is the South, not the Caribbean). They had 2 choices, and neither sounded inspiring. I ordered the Prichard’s rum, since it was local and I had never tried it. It turned out they were out of the Prichard’s, and they comp’ed me the Mount Gay. I have had the Mount Gay in the past, and this was just as uninspiring as I remembered. My only unsolicited suggestion for them is to go across the parking lot, and buy some Pyrat (its next to the Prichard’s)….

  3. So glad you enjoyed your visit to Athens, Georgia! I stay grateful for all the great dining choices we have in our little town. One footnote on 5 & 10s early bird prix fixe menu: it is just $25 without the wine pairings. The prix fixe is good for 5:30, 5:45, and 6:00 reservations. What a deal!

  4. Thanks for the clarification on the Prix Fixe menu, Hannah. Athens is great, I'm sure we'll be back again.
    Thanks for the comment!