5 and 10, the iconic Athen’s based restaurant of acclaimed Chef Hugh Acheson (known for his Food & Wine, James Beard and Top Chef fame), has been a trail blazer for this college town now for many a year (since 2000 with annual awards to show for it). As a recent acolyte of all things southern, I had been feverishly awaiting the chance to convince my wife to take the scenic hour tour to his restaurant and sample what I’ve only read and heard.
Though Canadian by birth, Hugh has taken Georgia as his adoptive home (much like myself) and henceforth, has driven his menu to reflect it’s great influence. But 5 and 10 was constructed as an ‘open interpretation of Southern food, melding Georgia cookery with French and Italian influences” where his menu is heavily influenced by his James Beard award winning book A New Turn in the South.
The contemporary farm atmosphere continues as one walks inside to find eclectic bobbles and knick-knacks arranged haphazardly around the establishment. It sets a relaxing but playful mood, but one can not help and crave a little more light if you don’t get seated in the one room that has enough windows to allow the sun inside.
First off was the special of the house (and by house, I also mean in house, as its all done on site at the restaurant), Charcuterie. With five offerings to choose from, we went with the recommended Pork Rillette. Slow cooked pork rendered with its on jus, solidified and shaped into cubes then fried served with a sliced fresh baguette, pickled veggies and whole grain mustard. The pick-and-play options were interactive and fun but the pork, surprisingly, was way under seasoned.
Soup was singing it siren song to me this day, so we went with the Bean Soup with Buffalo Meatballs and the en vogue, Pork Belly. The meatballs were proportioned well but lacked a pronounced flavor (perhaps that’s just buffalo in general) and the pork (no longer crispy) presented nice departures from the clear, tasteless broth. The lack of seasoning again was a huge issue. Thankfully the beans themselves were delicious and cooked to perfection.
On a side note, my wife and I shared a bottle of a fine 2011 Pfeffingen Dry Riesling, which paired well with the eclectic meal. The wine list was well stocked and varied, a nice surprise. The service was offered via a relaxed, genial style, not formal at all, which fit right in with the casual country atmosphere.
Overall, 5 and 10 offered a glimpse into the mind of a renowned, southern chef and how he pairs the local area’s bountiful produce with European influences. Though his personality still resides in the menu, the execution was spotty and as an example, dessert was the highlight. For the price (it will put a dent in your wallet and no, there were no college students dining this night save for those sitting next to their parents), I’d be willing to consider other options. I was left wanting more…
Review date: April, 2013.
Review date: April, 2013.