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Apr 15, 2010 11:51 AM

Fifth Floor Review (with photos!)

(Full version with photos here:


An interesting note about Fifth Floor is that the executive chef is Jennie Lorenzo (and correct me if Im wrong) , being female and Filipino and having never attended any culinary school, makes her a bit of a rarity amongst the almost predominately Caucasian-male, CIA trained chefs. Her dishes seem to border on pushing boundaries, yet retaining the original nature of the ingredient. Therefore you won't find foams and emulsions tampered with liquid nitrogen. But boring it isn't.

The crudo consists of sashimi with agave nectar, lime and olive oil. The tartness of the lime and subtle hints of agave nectar really wakes up the palate. By far, one of my favorites of the night.
“Hot Spring” Egg: poached jidori egg, truffled potato.
Egg? I'm sold.
Foi gras atop brioche and almond paste. Now this sucker you either love or hate. For me, it is the latter. Well, hate is such a strong word. Let me rephrase, it simply does not sit well with me. This is too avante-garde for my liking. The brioche and sweet almond paste reminded me of a foi- gras cupcake. On a side note, the considerate chef did include a dash of salt and pepper on the side for ones accustomed to the more savory version. But the burst of flavors from foi gras to sweet almond paste, then sweet brioche, then salt and pepper -- sadly -- did not do it for me.
The smoked duck breast: a tender mouthful of perfectly executed duck, with just the right amount of crisp to the skin.
Pork belly with white asparagus and lavender cream sauce. Pork belly always gets me hot and bothered, but this one falls short.
Wine infused strawberry sorbet with tapioca and banana chips. At first glance of this techni-colored creation, I am slightly appalled. I try hard brushing away the image of Chesire Cat lapping at my neon green dessert. Diving in, I remember not to dissect its parts, but to include everything in one mouthful (rest assured that Jennie Lorenzo knows something I don't). This is an experience of an unexpected taste explosion; an in- describable orgy of flavors.
I give props to Jennie Lorenzo for being innovative while still staying in the realms of simplicity. Her bold dishes such as the foi gras with brioche will always be remembered, if not loved. Also, the amazing goat milk butter that came with the bread was simply to die for, the culprit of me eating a sinful amount of bread. I highly recommend the tasting menu, as it is reasonably priced and reasonably portioned. Albeit, a few hiccups here and there, Fifth Floor pulls everything together nicely and ends with a beautiful note.

Fifth Floor Restaurant
12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Jennie is very talented, with the drive and organizational skills to head her brigade. The Fifth Floor has always gotten short shrift from the Hounds (until they finally participated in Dine Around Town this year and Ruth Lafler checked it out) who seem to be all about TFL, Chez Panisse (pro & con), and anything in the Tenderloin. Jennie has maintained her very high standards of quality of the cuisine, while lowering the menu prices considerably. The service staff rermain a very tight, well-trained team of friendly professionals. Roland rocks the bar. I think the Fifth Floor "gets it," and "gets it right" most of the time. Viva Jennie!

    Fifth Floor Restaurant
    12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

    5 Replies
    1. re: plainfood

      Yes! There wasnt a single review on chowhound, I went in with low expectations, but came out very satisfied. 72$ tasting menu. a rare find in the bay, and even LA

      1. re: cynthia105

        Thanks for your report. Just wanted to point out that there are many "reviews" and discussions of the restaurant on the site, maybe you have trouble searching. This site isn't that easy to navigate, so that's common problem.

        If you click on the blue-highlighted link, Fifth Floor, the same as this url,
        you'll find what's called a Restaurants & Bar page that collates discussions of the place. Read all the way down and then click on "see all discussions" and you'll find 116 pages worth of material.

        Fifth Floor Restaurant
        12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          thanks! This method seems to be easier than entering the restaurant name in the search box. After perusing thru the posts, I didnt see that many specific reviews on Fifth Floor recently. It was mostly inquiries

          Fifth Floor Restaurant
          12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

      2. re: plainfood

        I think the fact that it got little love from the Hounds was largely its own fault: there was a series of kitchen changes, which before they lowered their prices seemed to make it not as good a bet as the other places at its price point. I don't think the Hounds are particularly about TFL or Chez Panisse. They are the most famous restaurants in the area, and thus they get a lot of questions asked about them, especially from visitors, but I don't think the resident hounds on this board are any more interested in them than they are in many other restaurants. I think you'll find more love from the locals for many other mid-range places, which seem to go in and out of style (no one seems to talk about Defina anymore, for example, and La Folie is definitely making more blips on the radar and Gary Danko fewer blips than two or three years ago).

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          It was well regarded and had good reviews up to about 4-5 years ago...and then as you mention all the changed kept happening, lots of changes and they just kept coming. I think people wanted to try it again but the many changes and economy made it hard to rationalize given the price and many, many other places worth trying in SF.