Five Bistro started out in the Grove but moved to The Hill a couple of years ago, where its reputation as one of the most creative and innovative local eateries has been solidified. The name of the restaurant comes from the five senses Chef Antony Devoti and his staff strive to stimulate with their fare. Devoti is a well-known adherent of the doctrine of nose-to-tail cooking, and he uses most every part of the animal in his dishes. He's also a champion of local producers and his creations are full of ingredients from area farms and purveyors. Five also has an impressive garden behind the building that yields many vegetables and herbs for the kitchen, and the staff is happy to give guests a tour of the rows.
The menu changes daily, depending on the season and what's available locally, so there're plenty of new experiences to be had on every visit. We started with the Housemade Charcuterie ($20). Some places put out a few slices of salami and a dollop of grain mustard and try and pass it off as a charcuterie plate; but at Five, we were presented with a gorgeous board that included a selection of pates, some excellent head cheese, prosciutto, pork kidneys and beef tongue, along with pickled white asparagus and green beans. Hands down, this is the most wide-ranging charcuterie selection we've seen around town, and every bit was delicious.
Meat's not the only thing Five excels at, though. We tried a trio of dishes that proved the kitchen at Five is adept at turning out a variety of specialties. The Dunn's Garden Herb/Potato Gnocchi ($9) featured a handful of crisp potato dumplings served in a savory lamb ragout with creamy house-made ricotta; while the Housemade Fettuccini ($10) boasted tender pasta in a basil pesto made with herbs from the garden out back, along with a bit of white wine, some parmigiano-reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. The kitchen handles fish with as much skill and aplomb as they do pork, as evidenced by the Troutdale Farm Trout ($29), a flaky, juicy piece of local fish with roasted tomato, chunks of zucchini (from Rissi Farm in Washville, Ill.), fennel and pea shoots (from Claverach Farm), and dressed with a subtly tangy lemon-caper vinaigrette.
In addition to some fine sweets, courtesy of pastry chef Sarah Coker, the dessert menu has a tasty selection of cheeses to mix and match in selections of two ($9), three ($12) or five ($15). We chose Sangamon, a delicate double cream from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery in Fithian, Ill., and Barely Buzzed, an espresso- and lavender-rubbed cow's milk delight from Beehive Cheese Company of Utah.
The beverage program at Five is the equal of the cuisine. There's a superb and extensive wine list, including many half-bottles. Plenty of interesting cocktails, as well, like the Denver Maneuver ($9), a spicy amalgam of ri-1 rye whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and Bitterman's Burlesque Bitters; and after-dinner favorites like sauternes, ports and one of our favorite digestifs, Amaro Nonino ($12).
In addition to the regular bill of fare, Five offers a variety of other menu options, including a five-course chef's menu ($55) with wine pairings available for an additional $25, a three-course bistro menu ($25) and the Five After Ten menu available after 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. If you're looking for unique, creative and, above all, delicious food handcrafted with equal parts skill and passion, look no further than Five.
-- 5100 Daggett Ave., 773-5553, fivebistro.com.