five and ten in athens, GA
I wholeheartedly agree... Five & Ten's a great deal for what ya get. After a dozen or so meals, only once have I had a truly clinker night (found some tiny label in my entree) but they made it right, comping the entire bill. The server even offered us dessert after comping us. I walked out of there feeling even better about the place than had everything gone according to plan.
as for the noise issue in the main room, they've installed a dropped cork ceiling that muffles the volume... well, 12' x 12' squares of cork that don't touch so lots of noise clutter gets caught behind the panels.
Right on about the fresh oysters! ..the most scrumptious in Clarke County, bar none! (Sorry Harry Bs...) and last time I dined, I had a red grouper dish that made my mouth sing! laid over pureed sunchoke, wilted arugula.. a bowl of their anise flavored boiled peanuts made for a mighty tasty start.
We have always enjoyed Five and Ten. The food has always been excellent but there are some issues. The service has been "hit or miss" (example: I found used chewing gum on my coffee saucer before the waitress poured coffee. She apologized, removed the saucer, brought another and told me that dessert or cheese course was on them for the problem. I thanked them and ordered the cheese course but it was on the check. Thinking I had misunderstood I said nothing but as we left the restaurant the others in my party mentioned the "free" cheese course and how nice it was that the restaurant recognized the problem and made the concession so apparently I had not misunderstood but the waitress had not removed the charge. By then it was too late to say any thing.) The bar area and main part of the restaurant are in the same room so it can get very noisy. The suggestion to dine in the front room is a good one. They get very crowded on Fridays and Saturdays (as to be expected) but run out of a lot of stuff very early so plan to go early or on a week night or your choices will be very limited (we had 9.00pm reservations once and were limited to about half the menu and none of the specials).
There are some other places in Athens that are good but all in all I would say Five & Ten is the best "fine dining/upscale restaurant that the "Classic City" has to offer.
Five and ten is a special occasion place for me and I have never been disapointed some things are always better than others . The years ago I had a lobster salad with green godess dressing that, well ...it made me giggle. I usualy order from the specials they sing. Staples are good but do not show the inventiveness of "whats good now".
You can not go wronge with a fresh oyster sampler, or the frois gras however it is handled. The wine selection is well chosen and if your unsure and ask very well paired.
They now offer a prix fix menu befoere 6 pm and have a reasonably updated web site so you can check your options.
I travel to Athens a couple of times/year on average, and go to the Five and Ten usually once/year. I've had some outstanding meals there, and some meals that simply made me shrug (not bad, per se, but certainly not worth the hype that Five and Ten gets). I think some of the acclaim is simply a function of where it's located and the other options in Athens, and some of it is a more objective assessment of the food. If you decide to go (and I would recommend it), you might want to consider requesting a table in the front area (sort of a glassed-in porch type room). I find the main room can get quite noisy.
Honestly, if I only had one meal in Athens, I would probably head to the Grit. However, I'm a fish-a-terian, so I love the fact that I can order everything off the menu at the Grit, they've got amazing tofu, it's dirt cheap and the service is quite friendly. The Grit definitely isn't fine dining, however, and I know it's not everybody's taste.