Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

5 Ninth

Like a tech stock riding high in the late 90’s market bubble, this neighborhood (NYC's Meatpacking District) just feels like it’s about to crash into bridge, tunnel, and tourist cheesy-ness. In the middle of the mayhem, on a should be quaint cobblestone intersection, sits 5 Ninth. It opened in May, and there has been a decent amount of buzz since. The reviews thus far (Frank Bruni, Adam Platt) have come in positive, but seem to me a bit tentative. The chef Zak Pelaccio gathered a considerable cult following at the now defunct Chickenbone Café in Williamsburg, and is now stepping it up in the big leagues of Manhattan dining.



5 Ninth is housed in a decidedly charming 3-story townhouse built in 1848. Complete with exposed brick and ceiling beams, six fireplaces, and a backyard garden, the place feels warm, comfortable, and miles away from its Spice Market style neighbors. Even the wait staff uniforms of jeans and blue oxfords reflect the clean, yet dressed down atmosphere.

Dining at 5 Ninth required a fair amount of waiting, we waited nearly 20 minutes to get seated for our reservation. After waiting about 20 minutes for our appetizers, we attentively knocked out another 30 minutes waiting for our entrées. Finally, we waited for our waitress to pick up our check long enough to tire and switch our payment method from credit to cash. This may still be opening bumps, but after over three months in operation, you can’t be sure.

I started with the medley of assorted roasted beets and out-of-this world bacon ($12). The bacon nearly over-powered the beets, but a bite of the two together resulted in a nice texture. However, the texture of Marty’s wide noodles in a lobster and coconut milk broth ($15) with galangal flowers (a gingery, peppery spice) was off. The broth was the consistency of alfredo sauce and the noodles were too slick for the dish, but the flavors of the coconut and other spices were pleasantly balanced. I also enjoyed the blend of flavors of my John Dory (fish similar to black bass) with garlic sauce, mustard seeds, mushrooms, and new potatoes ($28) - though it may have been a little over-cooked. Marty’s duck ($27) was perfectly roasted, but sat in a very salty sauce that overpowered anything that came in its path.

5 Ninth, as others have noted, is full of promise. To me, this promise lies in the creative and ambitious chef and the warm atmosphere. It feels like it should be your neighborhood restaurant, but the prices and location preclude it from ever becoming one. I had to wonder if, for example, the John Dory had been $20 instead of $28, would I be singing the praises of this place? I guess affording the high-rent location precludes lower prices, so the only route they can take is to step up the food a little so it really wows. Until then, I'll have to wait on the sidelines hoping to hear it's worth heading back.

4 Comments:

Blogger Zach said...

Came upon your site randomly ... I really enjoy it.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Zach said...

Came upon your site randomly ... I really enjoy it.

1:04 PM  
Blogger git said...

Thank you!

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yummy!!! Looks like it meets guidelines for 184 Secrets of the Thin too! Thanks keep posting :)

5:44 PM  

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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.