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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Best of 2011: Five Bistro

Because last month's Best of 2011 challenges were conducted in the kitchen (Scotch Oatmeal Soup and Kaleslaw with Red Pepper), a restaurant was in store for February. Ryan and I pored over the Best Restaurants in St. Louis list and had a few options in mind. We soon discovered that many of the restaurants would be nearly impossible to get into the weekend before Valentine's Day, which is how we ended up at Five Bistro.

As it turned out, Five Bistro had just last month received the award for Top Burger in St. Louis, awarded by St. Louis Magazine. Our interest was piqued, but our hopes of trying the famed burger were immediately dashed. Upon arrival, the owners informed us that they had already sold out of their specialty. Being that it was only 1:00 pm, we were a little surprised, but this didn't deter us from staying for the meal; we'd come, after all, because it made the Top Restaurant list, not the Top Burger list.

The restaurant was tucked away on a corner in the Hill neighborhood of St. Louis, unusual being that Five isn't Italian fare like the rest of the neighborhood. Shortly after being seated, we were brought out a taste from the chef--a parsley chicken salad on homemade brioche. I loved the tiny bite offered and likely would have ordered it for my main entrée, had it been an option.

Because 90% of the food at Five is organic and locally sourced from nearby farms, the menu is brief and changes daily, according to what is available. Of the few non-burger options, Ryan and I quickly settled on our meals, Ryan ordering the Quiche (Ozark Forest portobello mushroom, caramelized onion, Beatje Farm goat cheese, and radish sprouts) and the Pizza (white anchovy, caramelized onion, olive oil, italian parsley, Baetje Farm goat cheese, and balsamic reduction) for me.

While our plates arrived, we were a bit surprised by the portion sizes. They were adequate, but not normal by restaurant standards. However, they are clearly focused on quality, not quantity here. Ryan enjoyed his quiche, though it didn't blow him out of the water. At first glance, I was a bit startled by the sight of actual anchovies on my pizza. I think I had immediately seen the words goat cheese in the pizza description and overlooked the whole "white anchovy" thing. This was my first experience with whole anchovies and so although my initial response was to gag, I bravely dug in and found they didn't bother me. They smelled a bit fishy, but the rest of the pizza was so lovely the anchovies were hardly a standout flavor.

The ladies at the table next to us must have ended up with the last three burgers in the place. When their plates were delivered, we couldn't help but sneak a peek. They did indeed look like excellent burgers and we spent the next fifteen minutes listening to our neighbors rave about their meals. It looks like we'll have to return for the burgers! And return we will; the owners and our waiter came over at least 3 separate times to apologize for the lack of burgers. In fact they promised that if we call ahead next time, they will set some aside specially for us. We plan to take them up on their offer soon!

All in all, our first restaurant experience for the Best of 2011 Challenge was a success--doubly so because this was not a place I would have initially picked off the list. Stay tuned...we'll be back in the cookbook next month!

One Year Ago: Schulz's Guacamole Salad

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