Okay, I'm going to say it. I know that some of you will call down a curse upon me, my children, and my children's children, but I think the Five and Ten is thoroughly overrated and overpriced. I think it's the naked emperor of Athens, Georgia.
I've eaten there twice. Granted, not an impressive sampling, but I don't really want to take out a second mortgage to further confirm my opinion. The first time I ate there was about a year and a half ago, and I couldn't even tell you now what I ate. I had a delicious Chimay ale and I could detail the dinner conversation, but the food was thoroughly unmemorable, and probably cost about $25-$30.
I went again a few months ago. I ordered risotto. Again, I know, I should have known this wouldn't be a showpiece. But someone else was picking up the tab and I was getting hints that the budget had a ceiling, so I opted for a cheaper dish. It was totally bland, underseasoned, and cost as much as a lavish dinner for two at a local Latino place.
My husband thinks I should cut them some slack because I ordered something kind of lame. But in my opinion, if a place changes up their menu to reflect what they can do well, and when they have a fairly small selection, with every entree costing two days worth of groceries, ANYTHING you order should kick ass. And it just didn't. Someone else there ordered a lamb dish and I noticed she didn't finish it--generally there was little ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the table. (One exception: someone ordered a sardine appetizer that was very, very simple and also quite tasty.)
Both times I ate there I left reflecting on the fact that I could have gotten a meal at Sabor Latino or a similar place in town that would have cost the amount of my tip at the 5 & 10 but would have had way more flavor and nuance.
So, okay, I'm bracing myself! Let me have it!