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Apr 19, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘Five Bistro’

The Scoop: Five Bistro’s Anthony Devoti to launch rotating concept restaurant

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

011614_anthonydevoti

 

A bit of construction is underway at Five Bistro that will lead to big changes in the bar area of The Hill restaurant. Chef-owner Anthony Devoti recently shared his plans to add a small, rotating concept restaurant within Five Bistro. He hopes to launch the first concept in mid-February, just after Valentine’s Day.

The main dining room will continue to serve Five Bistro’s regular menu of seasonal offerings, but the bar area will be divided by a newly installed wall to create a more intimate, 600-square-foot space where Devoti will serve a unique five-course menu to 20 diners. The theme of the menu will rotate every 8 to 10 weeks, allowing him to introduce four or five concepts during the course of a year, similar to Grant Achatz’s restaurant Next in Chicago.

“It is like opening a new restaurant without leaving the building, and getting to utilize some of the concepts and ideas that we have without having to get up and go hunt down a landlord,” he said.

The first concept will be a French bistro theme called Mon Petit Chou. That menu could include offerings like a frisee salad with lardons and deviled eggs, fluke in buerre blanc and chocolate bouchons, Devoti said. Subsequent themes might include upscale American-Italian fare or an all-vegetarian menu.

When Mon Petit Chou launches, its menu will be offered Wednesdays through Saturdays, with two, reservations-only seatings. The menu will be priced around $45 and will include dishes prepared with seasonal produce from Five Bistro’s garden and local purveyors.

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

January 2014 Trendwatch: Part 2

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

010814_beignets

{Beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty}

Breakfast for Dessert
The dessert pairing of the moment is an after-church specialty: coffee and doughnuts. Element has cleared the menu of coffee creme brulee with doughnuts for dessert, but you can still find caffeinated sweet treats elsewhere. Order beignets stuffed with espresso mascarpone and drizzled with coffee liqueur and warm chocolate sauce at Nico or bite into beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty.

Neck-and-neck
Why go as far as Portland, Ore., to try the sausage-stuffed duck neck at St. Jack Restaurant when you can find funky neck dishes all around town? On a recent Butcher Block Wednesday at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, chef-GM Bob Colosimo broke down the bird – turkey, that is – and turned the neck into a heck of a turkey osso bucco. Meanwhile, lamb is running neck and neck with birds of a feather. At Taste, chef Matt Daughaday shakes up his mainstay, lamb neck sugo, by giving lamb neck a long hot braise in Moroccan flavors then serving it as a ragú over cavatelli. And over at Sidney Street Cafe, chef Kevin Nashan features a roasted lamb dish with a side of roasted lamb neck stuffed in pastry, fried and served with curry aioli.

PB&Js Grow Up
The quintessential sandwich of your childhood – a PB&J – is something you can never outgrow. And why would you, when unconventional adult versions improve on the original? In the crepe cake recently offered at Crêpes: Etc, muscat jelly and peanut butter mousse were spread between crepe layers. Iron Barley’s Ballistic Elvis sees strawberry preserves and chunky peanut butter, grilled bananas, American cheese and hot pepper flakes (add bacon if your arteries can handle it) slapped between two pieces of Texas toast and then grilled, making it the hottest PB&J you’ve ever eaten. The childhood delight makes for a fine ending to a meal at Five Bistro, where you can periodically find a brioche doughnut with jam, peanuts and pecans.

Snap, Crackle, Pop
Forget Rice Krispies. Get your snap, crackle, pop from cracklings – and not the pork variety. The Libertine was serving both beef and squid versions of these crunchy munchies. The kitchen brigade at Brasserie is still quacking up over its special of duck confit-stuffed eggs garnished with duck cracklings, and you can dive into scallop cracklings at Sidney Street Cafe when you order Scallops and Piggy Noodles.

 

 

 

In This Issue: A Chat with Bonnie and Joe Devoti

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

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Bonnie and Joe Devoti win Best Parents Award. After raising two sons and working nearly 30 years – she at Southwestern Bell, he at Blue Cross – they came out of retirement to help their son, chef Anthony Devoti, turn his farm-to-table concept into a reality. Seven years later, Devoti’s mom and dad are still at Five Bistro, still smiling.

How did you get involved with Five?
B:
We visited Anthony in San Francisco where they were doing farm-to-table things. He said, “I want to come home and do this.” When he came home, we did a little bit of catering out of our home. It got to be really big, and we said, “We need to get this out of the house.”

Did you plan on helping out for so long?
J: We said, “We’ll give you a little help for about a year.”

You even moved closer to Five.
J: We were living in Chesterfield when he opened this place. We’d drive down and be there until 8 or 9 at night. We said, “This is insane.” So we moved to The Hill.
B: We saw that little man flying in front of Hampton Inn saying, “If you lived here, you’d be home.” We’d say, “Oh, my gosh, we would! And we gotta ride all the way to Chesterfield!”

What are your roles now?
B:
Joe and I clean the place.
J: We call it “volunteer work.”
B: If you go into a restaurant and the restroom is clean, it has a lot to say about what’s happening there. But our biggest role is meeting and knowing our customers.
J: We make rounds to the tables.

Has technology been a learning curve?
B: Now we have Open Table [reservation system].
J: But we were doing things manually. We’d be forwarding the restaurant’s phone to our cell phones.
B: So you’re walking through Dierbergs, and your phone rings and you have the reservation book in the purse. We didn’t want to miss a reservation.

Have the composed dishes at Five inspired you to cook fancy meals at home?
B:
Oh, yeah. We’ll take a picture and send it to him [Anthony] and say, “Do you need any help over there?”

 What were dinners like when your kids were growing up?
J: We were comfort food kind of people: meatloaf, stew, roasts, steaks, lots of chicken.
B: We would plan the meals, and one of the boys would start it so that when we got home at 6:30 or 7 p.m., we could sit down and eat. I’m really very proud that every night we ate dinner together.

Who’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner?
B: Anthony always makes the meat entree. I bring my mom’s dressing. It’s so good.

Who’s the cook at home?
J: We cook together – and we’re still married.

After being married almost 45 years, do you do everything together?
B: He just showed me this article in The Wall Street Journal. It said retirees should not spend so much time together. It hurt my feelings.

How much longer will you lend a hand at Five?
B: I don’t know if I’d ever want to pull away from here totally.
J: We’re not ancient, but it’s nice being around young people.

What’s the hardest thing about working with family?
J: To say, “This is your business partner, not your son.”
B: I’m Miss Sensitivity. These kids out here are my extended family. So if he [Anthony] gets gruff with them, it’s like “Don’t holler at your little sister.”

What’s the best thing about working with family?
B: We are so proud of him, I could just cry. The best thing for me: seeing your child be a success.

 -photo by Ashley Gieseking

 

Readers’ Choice 2013: Most Underrated Restaurant

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The 2013 Readers’ Choice results are in. You voted for your top places to eat, drink, shop and enjoy all things food in St. Louis. Winners ran the gamut from classics like Sidney Street Cafe and Pappy’s Smokehouse to up-and-comers like Sump Coffee and Sauce on the Side. Below, your pick for Most Underrated Restaurant, Five Bistro.

 

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The Claverach Farm Shoots at Five Bistro is more than just a salad, it’s everything we love about summer. A green tangle of radish, pea and sunflower shoots are slickened with a slightly sweet, mustardy vinaigrette with just the right amount of zing. An ever-changing rotation of seasonal produce (lately it’s been beets) is nestled on the greens, then crowned with a poached farm egg with a vibrant yolk the consistency of honey. There are a lot of things we love about this time of year, but food this fresh, vibrant and flavorful is our favorite.

- Photo by Greg Rannells

In This Issue: Trendwatch – A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

{The High Rise at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood and Mike Shannon’s Grill}

 

Thank You for Smoking: Barbecue spots may be spreading like wildfire around these parts, but it’s the smoke in our glasses that really has us talking. After a cold-smoke infusion of the bartenders’ wood chips of choice, the liquor becomes a sort of paintbrush, casting its smoky stroke on everything it touches. Dive right in with the smoked-vermouth-laden High on the Hog at Hendricks BBQ or the cold-smoked aperol at Cielo. For a milder entry to this smoker-to-sipper trend, try the High Rise at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood and Mike Shannon’s Grill, where a flicker of smoke deepens as the cold-smoked ice melts.

Less Is More: When Niche opened the doors to its new Clayton home with a tasting menu-only format, the shift was met with both excitement and frustration. But the renowned fine-dining restaurant isn’t the only one testing the local waters with limited options. Diners at nearby Little Country Gentleman must opt for either the 3-course menu or the grand tasting menu (The latter, numbering around 16 courses, has dropped in price to $78 a head.), while Anthony Devoti is offering a 5-course taster at Five Bistro on The Hill. Will we see more fine-dining spots move in this direction? Considering the creative license such a pared-down approach lends the chef, we sure hope so.

Head, Shoulders, Ears and Toes: You’ve had pig’s face and feet, butt and belly. The latest body part to benefit from the nose-to-tail trend: pig’s ears. We had ‘em deep-fried as a rich counter to hearty kale in a sprightly salad this spring at pop-up restaurant A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and we’ve sliced into the naturally chewy meat rendered silken in a terrine at Farmhaus.

Ingredient Alert: Umami in a Bottle: Considering folks are aging just about everything these days and the fact that so many chefs covet fish sauce as their secret weapon, we should’ve seen this one coming. Sneak into the kitchens everywhere from Blood and Sand to the here-now-gone A Good Man is Hard to Find to newly opened The Libertine, and you’ll find a bottle of BLiS Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce. For this wax-sealed condiment, Red Boat Fish Sauce gets aged for seven months in bourbon barrels that have already worked their magic on BLiS maple syrup. The result: a rich sauce with slight sweetness and subtle smokiness that lets chefs infuse umami into just about anything.

White Out: When YellowTree Farm’s Justin Leszcz grows it, the chefs will come. The latest crop making its way onto menus? Japanese white sweet potatoes. Find them stuffed – along with house-made chorizo – into a taco at Mission Taco Joint or head to Mission’s sister restaurant Milagro Modern Mexican where chorizo and sweet potato are the filling for empanadas or turned into a tasty hash. At Farmhaus, the veggie is cozying up to house-smoked ham and scallops at Farmhaus, and embracing its Asian roots with curried rice at The Agrarian.

Riding the Third Wave: When Scott Carey first opened the doors to his third-wave coffee bar Sump Coffee, he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing to wait for his hand-brewed methods and precisely pulled espresso shots. Two years later, the South City spot is the watering hole of choice for the city’s coffee-loving cognoscenti. And with local coffee chain Kaldi’s launching a renewed focus on hand-brew techniques at all of its cafes, it’s easier than ever to get a taste of coffee’s third wave no matter where you live. Stop by Picasso’s Coffee House in St. Charles, Comet Coffee in Dogtown, VB Chocolate Bar in Cottleville and soon-to-open Rise Coffee House in The Grove for a hand-brewed cup.

Meals on Wheels: Why go to dinner at one restaurant when you can eat an appetizer at one, enjoy an entree at another, nibble dessert at the one next door and have a night cap just down the street? That’s the idea behind STL Culinary Tours, Dishcrawl and Savor Saint Louis, three new businesses offering food tours of our city’s most food-filled streets and neighborhoods, complete with behind-the-scenes tables, chats with the chef and strolls from one hot spot to the next.

–Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now

Thursday, April 25th, 2013


Thai Food Rising: Just as GQ’s Alan Richman named D.C.’s Northern Thai gem Little Serow the Most Outstanding Restaurant of 2013, our own little outlier from up North opened its doors. At Fork & Stix in The Loop, Southern Thai standbys like pad thai and coconut curry play second fiddle to Northern specialties like pork belly-boasting Hung Lay Curry, lemongrass-laden sausage Sai Oua and the fantastic creamy Khao Soi soup (pictured). Here’s to less stir-fries and more funk.

Gilding the Goat: We’ve long seen goat’s milk used for fresh cheese and get turned into slightly sour desserts. But now the meat of this horn-rimmed roamer is slipping onto menus as well. For a special aptly titled The Goat Rodeo, Guerrilla Street Food braised a goat leg in palm sugar and Filipino lager before shredding it over jasmine rice, and showering it with marinated Napa cabbage, Sriracha cream sauce and scallions. Sidney Street Cafe’s Kevin Nashan turned the tough, strongly flavored flesh into porchetta, while both The Rustic Goat and Five Star Burgers have experimented with grinding it into a rich take on a burger.

Wish List: New Jew Food: From whipped-lardo challah with bacon charoset at The Pass & Provisions in Houston to everything on the menu at Brooklyn’s Montreal-inspired Mile End Deli, classic Jewish deli fare is seeing an artisanal second coming. Could this trend grace STL tables? The gourmet Passover seder Anthony Devoti held at Five Bistro last month gives at least one lox-loving Jew hope.

Fired Up: The barbecue biz is on fire and newly opened Vernon’s BBQ, Hendricks BBQ, SugarFire Smoke House, Lampert’s BBQ, Wilson’s BBQ and Capitalist Pig have rib-lovers from St. Charles to Soulard licking their chops. The perk to opening in chilly temps? Pit masters can work out the kinks before kicking into high gear come prime barbecue season.

Eating Your Curds and Whey: Cheese curds – the semisolid portion of coagulated milk that gets separated from the liquid (whey) during cheese making – are the new finger food. At Five Star Burgers, you can nibble these mozzarella sticks-come-french fries with your burger, atop tomato soup or as a curly-cued bar snack. At Dressel’s Public House, you can dip ‘em into a smoked tomato sauce, and you can munch on Marcoot Creamery’s garlic-and-herb variety with a frothy brew at Perennial Artisan Ales.

Gateway Green: Now that kale has our palates singing the praises of bitter greens, look for mustard greens to make a play for its prominent place on menus. Wilted into goose sugo tagliatelle at Five Bistro, accompanying caramel-edged pork cheeks at Home Wine Kitchen, or sitting pretty beneath sous vide porchetta di testa at Vino Nadoz and rainbow trout at Harvest, these spicy, pungent leaves may even take us beyond new-wave Caesar salads.

The Night Shift: The bracingly bitter Italian liqueur Fernet-Branca isn’t new behind the bar, but it is gaining a broader customer base. At one of the best family of restaurants in town, Fernet appears to be the nightcap of choice for Gerard Craft’s crew.

— photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Red Guitar Bread to open brick-and-mortar bakery on Cherokee Street

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Baker Alex Carlson has wowed us since 2010, when we took our first bite of the divine baguettes, boules and buns that he made as the in-house baker at Five Bistro on The Hill. Soon, Carlson was supplying his artisanal breads to places like The Mud House, Big Sky Café, Salume Beddu and The Block. Last year, we saw Carlson become a vendor at the Webster Groves Farmers Market, making his old-world country loaves, focaccia and other Atkins diet-busters available for sale to the public. Now, word comes that Carlson’s company, Red Guitar Bread, will finally have a home to call its own.

The brick-and-mortar location for Red Guitar Bread will be at 3215 Cherokee St., a few blocks east of Gravois Avenue, as he announced on the company’s Facebook page and as reported by Byron Kerman for St. Louis Magazine.

The Scoop has been unable to reach Carlson to discuss details regarding the target opening date – or the latest wild yeast strains he’s using to transform his organic flour into hunky baked awesomeness. More as we learn it.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Five Bistro’s fab burger is no secret, but how ‘bout those cocktails?

Friday, November 25th, 2011

112311_peardrinkYou go to Five Bistro for a standout burger. You go to Five Bistro to sup from a menu crafted from 90-percent local ingredients. But cocktails? Five Bistro wasn’t on my typical suspects list for a well-crafted mixed drink – until now.

Bartender Mary Mangan came aboard Five this past March. Mangan has tended bar at Carmine’s, Lucas Park Grille and Herbie’s. Her training at the latter – by seasoned bartender Heather Dodderer (now at Taste) – shows in the quality selection of liquors, smart pairing of ingredients for original recipes, and blessed willingness to measure.

Classic drinks on Five’s 10-item cocktail menu include pre-Prohibition gin cocktail The Last Word, a Moscow Mule and a seasonal Bloody Mary. Mangan brings these oldies into the 21st century using products from boutique, small-batch distilleries like North Shore (No. 6 gin for the Last Word and its aquavit for the Moscow Mule) and Boyd & Blair (The distillery’s potato vodka, my personal vodka fave right now, is poured into Five’s Autumn Mary).

Among Mangan’s own creations, the winner was the Prickly Pear (pictured), which showcases Mangan’s ability to stick with chef-owner Anthony Devoti’s fresh-is-best and make-it-from-scratch philosophies. The drink is made with muddled pears, house-made ginger syrup, Ransom Old Tom Gin, Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. Pear, ginger and a touch of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg from the allspice dram keep the Prickly Pear bundled in winter flavors. Another of Mangan’s originals, The Muse, is an unexpected trio of New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout, locally produced Spirit of St. Louis Island Time Amber Rum and a tawny port by Portuguese maker Dow’s. This delicious beer cocktail is filled with chocolate and sweet cherry notes, but, as my husband cautioned, that ounce of rum and half-ounce of port added to the beer is “just gonna get you into trouble.” My response: “Stick with one and be done.”

Ah, but don’t leave without ordering one little edible: the fried deviled egg. This deep-fried delight is filled with a smooth mix of egg yolk, aïoli, crème fraîche, whole grain mustard, freshly grated horseradish, Sriracha and Spanish smoked paprika. It’s served on a bed of micro mustard greens with a dollop of tangy mustard-balsamic aïoli and a smidgeon of subtly citrus lemon-caper vinaigrette. You wont find it on Five’s menu but Devoti’s kitchen brigade will be happy to get this crazy-good creation down your gullet.

The Scoop: Five Bistro to focus on tasting and late-night menus

Friday, August 26th, 2011

082611_fiveAfter the evening service this Saturday, the crew at Five Bistro will be taking a two-week break before reopening on September 13 with more tasting options and a special late-night menu.

For some time now, chef-owner Anthony Devoti has offered 3-course tasting menus for $25 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (Check out a sample menu here.). Soon, this increasingly taste-centric eatery will include the addition of a 5-course prix fixe for $55 on Fridays and Saturdays as well. Devoti hopes this “unbelievable deal” – both for the price as well as the product (90 percent of which is locally sourced) – will be well received and that it will pave the way for two distinct 5-course tasting menus at the restaurant in the future. For the moment, an à la carte menu will still be available at the restaurant, located at 5100 Daggett Ave., on The Hill, when it reopens next month.

Also in September, Devoti will launch a late-night menu at Five, which will be available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. until midnight. Moonlight revelers can rest assured that the restaurant’s famed Five Burger will be available, along with other pub-grub-with-a twist items like fried deviled eggs and poutine, a Quebec specialty consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with gravy. “We want to give people more late-night options,” Devoti explained.

Ask the Chef: Anthony Devoti answers your questions

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

071911_devotebenneIn the first installment of our new online column, Ask the Chef, we put down our pens to let you – our readers – take a turn asking some of the stars in St. Louis’ culinary scene your burning questions. First up is Anthony Devoti, chef and owner of Five Bistro and the shuttered Newstead Tower Public House. And now, from how he got his start to whether he’d ever open another Newstead to his cheese of choice for his cheese steak, he answers your questions …

How did you get started cooking?
Well, we’ve always cooked at home. My folks always cooked a bunch and I’ve always been around food; it’s always been something I’ve been interested in growing up. My grandparents owned a couple restaurants, more I would say breakfast and lunch places. I don’t know if you’d call them greasy spoons but they were more like eggs and toast and working man’s kind of food. My dad worked there when he was a kid; my aunts and uncles all worked there when they were kids. And holiday events, we’re an Italian family and so food was a big deal when we all got together.

How do you source those awesome ingredients?
Well when I first started a lot of this stuff I went to markets for. I was actually actively going to markets meeting farmers. Now I don’t really have to do a whole lot; farmers come to me. They know what we do, we have a good reputation with farmers and we have really good cooks so I think farmers are very proud to bring their products to me. When I first started, I knew Ron Benne (pictured at left) for like six years. I was working in a restaurant in Chesterfield and tried to get that restaurant to be a farm-to-table-to-kitchen type of restaurant. So I met Ron when I was working out there, and when I moved back to St. Louis from San Francisco he was the first person I called. He gave me tips on how to meet these people. I went online and did a bunch of research before the restaurant opened, too. For the last couple of years … people just bring me stuff or they call and they say, “I have this, this and this – do you want it?” Chef-wise we bring each other up, too. Some people say, “Hey this product is unbelievable. I know this guy is good and he will take care of it.” I met Mike Brabo from Vesterbrook [Farm] from Kevin Nashan. Kevin said this guy is a great cook, he loves food and is a really good guy and he would do justice to that product.

A food district executive told me the locavore movement is a “fad, unsustainable and too expensive for 97 percent of consumers.” What are your thoughts?
I just think it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. … Locavore is not a movement; it should be a practice. You can eat local if you want to sacrifice and you want to eat real, local food, then you can do it. Is it a little more expensive? Yes, of course. But we grow a bunch of vegetables on our own; it’s not exactly hard to do. I think that that’s a pretty big cop out kind of answer. You have to want to eat good food to eat local. And just because you’re buying local food it means the product’s going to be better but if you don’t know how to cook it, it’s not going to help anything. It’s up to us to all get together. The more people who eat local and buy local, the more readily available it will be, the more farmers who will take care of us. When you go to the grocery store and 80 percent of things are made from corn or corn-based, that’s not really helpful. People have been eating local since the beginning of man. That, to me, is just a stupid comment from the food executive.

Who do you see as upcoming stars of the St. Louis food scene?
I don’t really know; I think the stars are relatively established. I think Adam [Altnether] over at Taste; he’s a really good guy, kind of a fun person to watch I guess. I think there’s a lot of Gerard [Craft] influence in his food personally, but he’s a great guy and he can certainly think on his own. You have to be a really good cook and he’s a really good cook. I eat in a circle of restaurants and I do a circle of things, and so I like Kevin [Nashan] and I like Gerard’s stuff and Josh [Galliano] and those guys. But when I eat out, I typically eat ethnic food; I don’t really go eat at those guys’ restaurants a lot of times because they’re closed when I’m off. Adam I think is a big one. I got a couple guys working for me that I think are pretty kick-ass cooks, and one day they’ll probably end up leaving, but I hope not. I know what they can do.

As many huge strides as St. Louis has taken, I think there are a lot of steps that go backward too. That doesn’t help what people are trying to do food-wise. … People go to culinary school and they think that, oh I’m gonna go to culinary school and I’m gonna be there for six months to a year, and then I’ll work in a hotel and then I’ll work at Five [Bistro]. That’s not how it is. It sucks, it’s hard, it’s hot and it’s even shittier and hotter on days like today. You have to really love what you do to be in this spot.

Newstead made my St. Louis top five list. The burger is simply the best. The service was great! What were the reasons to close?
To be fairly frank and straightforward, we had to close Newstead because of business. It was a lot of people’s top five but it wasn’t enough people’s top five. The quality of the product we were using there was very expensive; it was the same as we do at Five. We had to do a lot of people to turn that over. And The Grove neighborhood hasn’t done anything. It hasn’t done anything since Five was over there. … It was a cool spot and it was an awesome building, but the rest of the neighborhood wasn’t there. I can think of other corners it would’ve been better on; if it was on any of those corners it wouldn’t even be a question.

Are there any reasons that would get you to open another?
I don’t know – a really good location probably. I’m in the spot now [where] I would want to own my own building; I wouldn’t lease ever again. We own our building at Five, and there’s a lot of BS that comes along with it – if the air conditioner breaks, you’re responsible for fixing it – but I wouldn’t change that for anything, the control that you have. We talk about it all the time. That’s pretty much the only reason we do lunch at Five is the burger at Newstead. We only do it three days a week, but that’s something that we kind of wanted to keep going and keep alive and something we felt very strongly about.

Which do you prefer on a cheese steak sandwich: provolone, Provel or Cheese Whiz?
Cheese Whiz. It can be as processed and as terrible and synthetic as whatever, but Cheese Whiz for sure.

Any sous chef opportunities at your restaurant right now?
No, I don’t hire out for chef management kind of things. We build up totally from within. The crew that I have, the person that’s been there the least amount of time is, well we’ve got two new people at six months. Everybody else is two to three years plus. It’s work up to that position for us. It’s because I’m relatively difficult to work for. I think I’m easy to work with, but we have very high expectations. We do a lot of canning and jarring and we buy lots of potatoes and things in the winter. You have to understand the seasonality of what we do. … We brainstrom about menus and what we’re going to do; it’s a pretty open idea process we have going on. And when asparagus season is only six weeks long, people don’t really get that. … When we get further on, you really understand the best timing of things and the seasonality of all of it. You can work [at] some of these places for a couple years before you really understand that. We’re always learning. We’re a bunch of food dorks to the core. We get off on reading magazines and watching TV and reading books about food and that’s what we talk about whenever we’re around each other. And we have a big garden so we enjoy gardening too; that’s a big deal to us.

— Photo by Greg Rannells

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