Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - 5Church Atlanta

This month Nikki and I visited the relatively recently opened 5Church Atlanta. We've both been there for a networking event and I've dined at the bar, but this was the first dining room experience for us both.

Welcome back to our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our fifth stop on this 10 restaurant tour was 5Church Atlanta, which is approaching its one-year anniversary.

What we believe is a unique spin on 'Top 10' lists, we're not counting down, but instead we're showcasing some of Atlanta's restaurants with numbers in their names! Some we've been to before and others will be a first-time experience. We're going to make all of them FUN!

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
Let us say right off that our server, Renee, was awesome! She took great care of us, was fun and professional. 5Church Atlanta owner, Ayman Kamel, greeted us early on and would later give us a grand tour of the restaurant. More about that momentarily...

Our dining experience began with the Specialty Cocktails menu (surprise, surprise), and what a great place it was to start! Nikki had the "Verde". 

In keeping with being a gin girl, Nikki enjoyed that this drink starts with Hendrick's gin. It also has cilantro, lime, fresno, and chilies. Nikki, not being a sweet drinks person, found this libation to be quite refreshing. And, visually, it's spectacular...next time I'll have one!

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

On to the starters...

I didn't really know what Poke was until Nikki started talking about the various dishes of it that she's enjoyed around town. Since then I've had it a number of times. This particular starter, the Ahi Tuna Poke, I liked very much! I love raw tuna to begin with, so I was hooked as soon as this dish hit the table.  

I loved the balance between the heat of the chilies and the sweetness of the pineapple. Nikki found it a little sweet for her taste, but enjoyed it all the same. It also has avocado, radish and soy sherry!

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I've loved octopus since I lived in Greece in the mid-1980s and have an appreciation for "good" and "great" octopus...and have a keen sense and sincere distaste for "bad" octopus. 

This Charred Octopus is exceptional. The char is excellent. The color is fantastic (It's beautiful, right?). The texture is far more tender than most octopus I've had in the States. It's served on lime yogurt and chili sauce and topped with cilantro.

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

Again, I was sucked in by the name of a cocktail. 

Immediately after I saw "Gingers Have More Fun" I had to have it. You can't tell it now, but when I was younger I had auburn highlights in my hair and when I was older my beard (which people only saw on weekends when I didn't shave) grew in auburn. Today, if I let my beard grow in—which I don't—it looks like Edward from Twilight, glistening in the sunlight! 

I'm not usually a whiskey drinker, but "Wow!", this was delicious! Topped with a slice of blood orange, this amazing cocktail is made with rye whiskey, ginger liqueur, blood orange hibiscus soda, and smoked simple syrup. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? It was! 

Being the wine fan that I am, I switched to a Pinot Noir for the entree course. The restaurant offers an excellent wine list, as well as bubbles and beer—in bottles, cans, and draft—some of them local, including Monday Night Brewing.  

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

One would think Wagyu Beef Fried Rice would be an entree, but this unexpected treat is a side dish! We also had the Hearth Roasted Broccoli, with umami sauce and smoked parmesan. Yum, yum, yum! 

On a previous visit I'd enjoyed the Shrimp Kinilaw starter, a dish similar to ceviche. The coconut milk, Thai chilies and ginger set this dish apart...a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I've also had the 5Church Lamb Burger (50% lamb, 50% beef), which is one of the best burgers I've ever had, but how could it not be with red onion marmalade, arugula and gorgonzola fondue! 

It's going to be so difficult to try new dishes here when what I've already had is so incredibly amazing. 

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

The Atlantic Diver Scallops are divine! 

Scallops are an easy dish to cook well, but few make them quite this outstanding. These are served on parsnip puree and coupled with sunchoke and charred leeks that are topped with brown butter "snow" (the menu says sesame snow, so ask your server). The scallops are topped with wasabi tobiko. The brown butter snow and tobiko are the stars of this dish!

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

We enjoyed one of the steak options...OMG, it was delicious, tender, and charred in all the right places! Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, which Nikki and I both love, this steak is a steak-lover's dream come true. 

THEN, dip a bite of it in the chimichurri sauce accompanied with it (one of several options)...you're going to have yet another culinary wow-moment. And don't even get me started on the silky whipped potatoes

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

And then there was dessert!

We got two and shared. The first was their Dulcey Mousse! It's souffle cheesecake covered in a dome of caramelia ganache sprinkled with crispy chocolate pearls and accompanied with macerated strawberries! The cheesecake is light and it doesn't overpower with sweetness. Wholly, totally and completely delightful.

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

And then there was the S'Mores Floating Island. This "delicious"-doesn't-say-enough dessert is a toasted chocolate cream filled meringue resting in a sea of vanilla creme anglaise, all sprinkled with graham strausel. Strand me on that island any day! Seriously. Castaway wouldn't have been a movie if Tom Hanks had been stranded on this island.

Nikki isn't a sweets person, but she totally went in for a second bite of this AMAZING dessert! We both agreed that this was one of the best desserts we've enjoyed in recent history...and probably again in the near future.

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The artwork in 5Church Atlanta is magnificent! It's a spectacular collection that largely gives a nod—sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously—to "5". Perhaps the most remarkable art feature is on the ceiling. The...entire...ceiling! 

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", believed to have been published in the 5th Century BC, is written (painted) in white letters on a black ceiling...in its entirety. The entire text! Artist Jon Norris has painted the same copy on the ceilings of all three 5Church locations (Charlotte and Charleston being the other two). This work is a tribute to the owner's philosophy that "There is only we." 

There's enough art and stories behind the pieces to make for a whole book! When you visit the restaurant, ask about the art...talk about the art...enjoy the art. A few of the Atlanta-inspired pieces are by artists: Matt Hooker, Rodney Raines, and Bhakti Baxter.

You'll see a "tree" in the middle of the main dining area. It's an artistic distraction separating the "bar area" (the dining area closest to Peachtree Street) from the "Buffalo Room" (the main dining room) adorned with a spectacular buffalo sculpture by Georgia native William Massey.

The "wings" chandeliers throughout the restaurant are the only ones you'll find in a restaurant. 5Church has an exclusive agreement with the manufacturer...they can sell them to other businesses, but not to any other restaurant. That's pretty awesome in my book!

Of course, being the sci-fi enthusiast I am, I couldn't not mention the UFO Room! (pictured above) The room sits slightly above the Buffalo Room and is opened for private events and when the restaurant is super busy, which as more and more people learn how awesome this dining destination is, I estimate will be quite often. It's now my personal goal to dine in the UFO Room!

5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie
5Church Atlanta | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

Following our awesome tour, Ayman spent time with us on the upper level patio where we discussed the restaurant at length, as well as enjoyed conversation about family, friends and living in Atlanta. We made a new friend...a rarity in such meetings, but we were made to feel like family. And now we're going to bring other friends-like-family and hope you will, too.

Ayman shared with us that the specialty cocktail menu is being updated. But, instead of just randomly changing the menu, he's keeping what has been guest favorites and then conducted a cocktail competition among the staff, several of which were recently added to the regular specialty drinks menu! What an awesome team building move that was! and a delicious one from what we hear. 

The outdoor balcony is a must-visit, whether for happy hour, dinner, or for after-dinner drinks. The view is spectacular...your eyes scale 1180 Peachtree, the skyscraper that has the colossal fins at its peak, with One Atlantic Center in the near background. I love this view! 

One Atlantic Center (formerly the IBM Tower) was built the year I moved to Atlanta (1987) and 1180 Peachtree was the most beautiful building on the Atlanta skyline when I moved back to Atlanta more than six years ago. This is one of the most active, yet serene balcony's you'll find in Atlanta.  

5Church Atlanta is situated in the heart of Atlanta's Arts District. A few of the nearby experiences include Woodruff Arts CenterHigh Museum of ArtAlliance TheatreAtlanta Symphony OrchestraMuseum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
SCADShow, and other nearby cultural and entertainment destinations. Dine and go or go and dine...5Church Atlanta is a must-include night on the town!  

THINGS TO KNOW before going to 5Church Atlanta:

  • The parking deck is accessible via a tunnel on Peachtree Street immediately in front of Colony Square. After dining, get parking validation at the host stand...it's free!
  • Valet parking is available, starting at 6:00 p.m. Pull into the circular drive in front of Colony Square on Peachtree Street. 
  • 5Church is great for happy hour, date night, special occasions, groups, and private events...or just because. Treat yourself.
  • Colony Square, where 5Church Atlanta is located, will soon be undergoing a significant redesign. It's going to be spectacular!
  • 5Church Atlanta recently announced a new executive chef, Scotley Innis. A Bronx, New York native. Look for influences from his Caribbean heritage on the restaurant's Southern-American menu!
OF NOTE: If you've visited Atlanta before, or haven't been to Midtown in a long time, you'll find that 5Church Atlanta is in the former space of Shout, which was part the restaurant group Here to Serve that closed suddenly at the end of 2015. We're happy that such an awesome new restaurant now occupies such a coveted space! 

Here's our planned Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", one per month in 2017:

ONE midtown kitchen
599 Dutch Valley Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

TWO urban licks
820 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Bar Margot at Four Seasons
75 14th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

5Church Atlanta
1197 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30361

Six Feet Under
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Seven Lamps
3400 Around Lenox Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30326

Eight Sushi Lounge
930 Howell Mill Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Nine Mile Station
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

10th & Piedmont
991 Piedmont Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Disclaimer: If you live in Atlanta or visit on a regular basis, you know how quickly the Atlanta restaurant scene can change. Our lineup is subject to change based on the Atlanta restaurant landscape over the first 10 months of 2017. Also, all opinions are our own and not at all influenced by the restaurant owners, staff or PR firms, whether we treated ourselves or were hosted by the said restaurant.

If you're enjoying this series, please follow:

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Thank you for coming along on what we think will be a FUN food journey over 10 months in 2017. Our selection of restaurants is a subjective choice of what we think will be an exciting new way to experience Atlanta restaurants: "By the Numbers". Please, tell your friends and family what we're doing and invite them to also come along for the taste tour!

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