Five and Ten (Athens): 4/20/12

Friday Date Night

Date Night goes on the road to celebrate a momentous occasion!
Before the main event we have time to unwind after a busy work week and share a beer at a favorite spot. In downtown Athens, GA there is a plethora of possibilities when choosing a spot for alcoholic refreshment. We like the atmosphere of The Globe, and although the draught beer menu is not large there are plenty of choices to keep us happy!

British beer in a British bar. Fullers on the left, Harp on the right.

Staying with The Globe’s British theme, I get the Harp Lager, which is on happy hour special for $3.50 a pint. Roger picks the Fullers ESB, which he has never tried before, it’s not on special, but he’s worth it! ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter, but it’s not bitter at all. It has a slight hoppy flavor, but there is a lot of malt and caramel in there as well.The ESB is as good as the hype, and this won’t be the last time we have this beer.

Today is our son Elliott’s 20th Birthday, and we have made reservations at one of the most highly touted eating establishments in town. There is fierce debate amongst Athens foodies as to which is better, 5&10 where we are eating tonight, or The National. We’ll save The National for a future date night before we weigh in!

5&10 is the place where UGA students like to take their parents for special occasions. We have 2 hungry students with us, Elliott and one of his fraternity brothers, Louis. The restaurant is small, cozy, noisy and busy.

While we look over the eclectic menu, they bring out a small basket of warm herbed bread and butter. The menu changes frequently to feature local and seasonal produce. Ramps (think baby onions) are showcased in tonight’s dishes.

We begin with a bottle of Chianti Classico (the alcohol prices are about 25% less than the ATL) and cheese. Our very experienced server helps us choose 3 cheeses which come on a big platter with local strawberries, tomato marmalade, toasted pecans and house made baguette.

Three cheeses: tomme, chevre, and gouda.

We pick the 3 year aged Gouda (Holland), this is “old” cheese, harder and a little stronger than you are used to. It turns out to be my favorite because of the richer fuller flavor. Next is a Tomme (Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, GA) which is very smooth and mild and turns out to be the favorite of all three men at the table. Our last cheese selection is a marinated goat cheese (Split Creek Farm, SC). As far as goat cheese goes, this one is not too strong and everyone at the table enjoys it.

Our first course is a huge success and holds us over until our main courses arrive. The boys order more traditional comfort foods like pork chops (Elliott) and fried chicken breast (Louis) – but both come with sides that demonstrate the creativity of renowned chef Hugh Acheson (The National, Gosford Wine, Empire State South).

Pork chop with risotto.

The chop comes with barley risotto, baked kale, pickled fiddlehead ferns and black garlic jus.

Fancy fried chicken.

The chicken is accompanied by celery soubise (onion sauce), pickled ramps, radish, seared mustard greens, roasted tomatoes, and hot pepper jus. They like it all since both plates are cleaned!

I am intrigued, and order the (house-made) ravioli special.

Rocking good ravioli.

They are stuffed with fava beans and goat cheese and topped with nuts, kale, ramps and shaved parmesan cheese. There are only three ravioli triangles, but the thick pasta is perfectly al-dente and surprisingly filling. There is not a morsel left on my plate either.

Our last entree is the low country frogmore stew. Roger figures this must be the house specialty because he saw a t-shirt with the ingredients on it as we walked in.

Ribit! Low country frogmore stew.

The stew has large, succulent gulf shrimp, potatoes, spicy andouille sausage and corn in a tomato broth. It comes with a nice hunk of bread to sop up the broth. This dish is also filling, and all that is left in his bowl is a little bit of broth (our server generously offered more bread so that he could enjoy every last drop, but he declined).

The red wine must be helping our digestion, because somehow there is room for dessert. The boys are full, but we make them get something to celebrate, and they order vanilla ice cream. We are much more adventurous, and go for the Chocolate Nemesis, a chocolate cake with bananas, caramel ice cream and candied peanuts.

What a way to end your meal.

We want to lick the plate, but in a place like Five and Ten, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

I mentioned that the restaurant was small and busy and noisy, but I would like to point out that the wait staff was incredible. Our server has been working here for 9 years, and she is not the most senior employee in an establishment that has been around for 11 years. Attention to detail and vast knowledge of everything on the menu goes a long way in this business!

So is this the best restaurant in Athens? Perhaps, but we also enjoy great meals at The Last Resort, which is always top-rated on Trip Advisor. The National has the same chef as Five & Ten (how can he cook in two places at the same time?), so look for us to check it out the next time we are in town.

Date Night Extra: Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods
The next day, after a 36-mile ride that burned off the previous night’s calories, we take Elliott out to lunch before we head home. We eat fried chicken once or twice a year, and if you are going to eat fried chicken, Weaver D’s is the place to go in Athens. Dexter Weaver is the man in charge, and when you order at Weaver D’s, you are ordering straight from the owner, who relays your order to the kitchen. His “Automatic for the People” phrase was used by REM as the title for one of their albums.

REM eats here. You should too.

This is a soul food joint, and the chicken and the pork chops are fried. There is meat loaf and baked chicken for those who don’t want fried food, but you are here for the fried chicken, remember? You can get amazing mac and cheese, squash casserole, broccoli casserole, yams, and greens.

Fried chicken, mac and cheese, squash casserole.

The chicken is crispy and just the right amount of greasy. We all get the dark meat platter, which comes with two sides and a cornbread muffin.

Here's the broccoli casserole.

Our muffins go from the oven to our styrofoam plates, so they are steaming hot.

Weaver D’s is off the beaten path, and it’s in a small, cramped house.

With this paint job, it's hard to miss Weaver D's.

You sit at long tables with others, and it’s usually packed for lunch. Go find it the next time you are in Athens. You will be glad you did.


Five and Ten on Google Maps:

Weaver D’s on Google Maps:

Five & Ten on Urbanspoon

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