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|
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.
|Grilled Berkshire Chop|
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.