Saturday, July 21, 2012

Five - Berkeley, CA


Suite #5, 2086 Allston Way  
Berkeley, CA 94704

Blue is located in the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in downtown Berkeley. The location is just off the main drag and to a non-local, it could be missed.  Typically hotel food isn’t the best and I was somewhat reluctant to try it, but so many locals had recommended it that I decided to give it a try and I was blown away.  

A menu with the daily specials and a bread basket were brought to the table immediately.

The inside of the restaurant has a mix of décor that is inviting and interesting to look at.  It draws a mixed crowd from Berkeley casual to the more sophisticated and chic patrons.  I was seated at a table for two that had a nice velveteen wrap around booth.  There were few diners at the early evening and I spent some time taking in the live blues music and reading through the menu.  Ultimately I decided on the special – BBQ, Booze, and Blues.  The picture below shows the offerings (booze was not actually part of the special, but there were many drink specials on the menu). 

The view from the bar

Chandeliers like this one are located around the restaurant

I elected for the Beef Brisket and BBQ Chicken as my meat choices. While I waited, bread and butter and a glass of water were brought to me.  The wait staff was very attentive and I appreciated that I never had to ask for a drink refill.

I didn’t have much of a wait for dinner to be served as there weren’t too many people present.  I was delighted by the presentation and also by the aromas that wafted from the plate as it was set in front of me.  The chicken was so tender it fell off the bone and had a rich smoky sauce on it.  The brisket also had a smoky sauce on it, but not the same as the chicken.  It was so incredibly tender and was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before.  I happened to be sitting beside the general manager of the restaurant and the executive chef, Banks White, came out to find out how he was enjoying his meal.  I overheard Chef White say the brisket had been cooked for fourteen hours at 200 degrees - low and slow and oh so good!  The corn was sweet and perfectly cooked.  The combination of lime and a hint of chile were heavenly and a delight to my taste buds.  The potato salad was made with red potatoes, mustard, mayo, and chopped green onions.  This was my least favorite of the side dishes as the onions were overpowering and the potato salad needed salt.  It was better than your average restaurant or grocery store variety, but it lacked the wow factor of the other offerings.  What the potato salad lacked, the onion rings made up for tenfold.  They were perfect!!  Crunchy batter contrasted well with the soft onion, the salty onion paired flawlessly with the hint of sweet in the batter. 

Clockwise from top left:
Potato Salad, Onion Rings, Corn, Chicken, Brisket, BBQ sauce

Peach cobbler a la mode was served for dessert and it smelled wonderful.  Served in a tiny cast iron skillet, the presentation as delightful and I was happy to hear that the gelato was locally made at a shop down the street that day.  It had a creamy, nutty flavor that made me want more and even now as I write up the review I could go for more of that delicious gelato!  The cobbler had a subtle and almost weak flavor – the crust was weak and the peach flavor was basically lost.  But that gelato…more than made up for it!

Peach cobbler a la mode

Five is the type of dining experience everyone should have at least once in his or her life – flavors harmonizing and all senses stimulated (hence the name Five -- an experience for all five senses).  The meal itself was truly an experience I savored and enjoyed in every possible way.  I was so pleased by the meal, I went online to research Chef Banks’s background.  He is the graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and his studies have served him well.  What a great find this restaurant was!

Five (Hotel Shattuck Plaza) on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, Chef Banks White is leaving May 31, 2013! He will be the chef at a newly restored 1930's jazz club in Harlem, NY, to be called Minton's. We went yesterday 5/9/2013 and were blown away by the brined pork chop and fried chicken. Looks like he's trying out dishes he might showcase in NY. If you can get there soon, GO NOW!