I took a party of 5 to Five on Friday and after a very stressful drive from San Jose, we arrived into a very lovely space. The inlaid Peace symbol reminded you that you were still in Berkeley. We laid waste to the menu. The Orzo mac &cheese is good but like most restaurant versions is a bit too rich. The Tempura vegtables were a great contrast with a few cheese stuffed small peppers or tomatoes among the green beens. The Flat bead with fig jam and goat cheese could have been crisper but I could have been quicker to get to it. Only the Crab Fritters were a disappointment, the ratio of crab to fritter being off by a factor of 2.
The mains were all satisfying! My Seelhead gave great crisp skin and flaky moist flesh, with small bits of preserved lemon for acid. The Ling cod was sweet and subtle. The Short rib must be easy because I never have bad ones and this was better than most. Our steak eater ordered the Ribeye, medium well, but the sauce was tasty. The Pork chop was a wonderful sweet ,salty, pink goodness.
Service was great, attentive but not intrusive, quick to read the table and adjust. Great drink menu and over all we had a great time. And with 10 drinks, 4 shared plates 5 mains and 2 desserts we spent less than $300 before tip. We so need this kind of place in the South Bay!
FIVE American Bistro & Bar
2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704