Does anyone know what is up with the Fifth? Went there with friends from out of town on Saturday night and the experience was less than stellar. We had an 8pm reservation and upon arrival (after being escorted in twos into the dining room because the elevator can't hold the weight of more than two?!)were told by our waiter that in addition to the prix fixe menu, as always the chef's tasting menu is available. We usually like to try the tasting menu so told the waiter we'd have this. He looked startled and informed us it was $120 (as opposed to $85 for the prix fixe) and would be at least 3 hours. We said we would have it anyway and inquired about a wine pairing. He said yes they would pair the wines for us with each course.
The tasting menu consisted of 3 appetizer courses and 2 mains plus cheese and dessert. The food was actually pretty good, but all the choices were the exact ones that were on the prix fixe menu, just in smaller portions! As the courses were brought out (by different people each time) there was little to no description of what we were eating. The first appetizer course was a shellfish bisque with a piece of mystery fish in the centre topped with rouille laden crostine....the description when it was delivered to our table? "Fish soup"! Upon on further investigation and after convincing the waiter that there was indeed a piece of fish in the soup, the waiter showed me the regular menu where what we were eating (and the courses to come)was descibed in great detail (the mystery fish was scorpian fish apparently). The remaining courses proceeded in a similar way - tasty but with no descriptions or rapport with the waiter(s).
The wine pairings were ok -and the waiter seemed to know his way around these far better than he did the menu - but instead of a small "pairing" sized serving, we were given very large full glasses...with each course! We ended up with a lot of half full glasses cluttering the table before long.
By the time we got to the 4th or 5th course the staff were leaving for the evening and the service got even spottier. The chef must have walked by our table about 3 or 4 times without ever acknowledging us (even though we were one of about 3 tables in the restaurant and the only ones interested enough to try his "chef's menu").
When the bill came...the grand total was around $800 (not including tip) for the four of us (only 3 of us had the wine pairing). All in all, the price was ok for the food and quantity of wine we got, but the entire experience was sullied by the indifferent service and lack of creativity in the chef's menu (call me crazy, but in the past when I've had chef's menus they at least had some courses that were not on the regular menu).
This all came as a great surprise to me as in the past I have found the Fifth to provide a very pleasurable dining experience - great food, good service and good value (I was last there in May). I'm wondering if the new "club" format is the problem here? Despite the above, the food was quite good (especially a squab with foie gras dish that was the fourth course)and if we had felt more welcome and had had more consistent and knowledgable service it may well have been worth it, however I won't be rushing back anytime soon when there are so many other excellent choices in the city.
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