Five and Ten: Creative Southern Dining in Athens, Georgia

A meal at Five and Ten is guaranteed to be an outstanding experience from walking through the door to the last bite of dessert. Afterall, Five and Ten’s Executive Chef and Owner, Hugh Acheson, was a James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2012 and has just been announced as a 2019 nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Location: 1073 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, Georgia

Menu: The menu at Five and Ten combines the best seasonal ingredients from the producers near Athens, Georgia, with the skill and imagination of Chef Acheson and his well-trained culinary staff. The menu changes regularly to reflect peak growing seasons.

Snackies or appetizers range from Georgia boiled peanuts to shrimp cocktail or pimento cheese and crackers, but then the more intriguing flavor combinations begin with the list of Small Plates.

I chose the Duck Liver Mousse with sweet potato chips, apple chips, chutney, foie gras, charred onion and chutney. The blend of textures with ingredients was surprisingly perfect — smooth versus crispy, sweet versus savory, rich versus light, all in one presentation.

Other possibilities I will want to try during a future visit are Celery Root Fondant, Grilled Octopus or Roasted Beets with kimchi.

Large Plates are equally provocative. They run the gamut from Pasta Ribbons to Frogmore Stew, Pork Schnitzel, Duck Breast, Scallops and Short Ribs. I enjoyed the trout offered as a nightly special, and it was cooked perfectly.

Desserts also have surprising twists. Apple and Fennel Bread Pudding is an unexpected combination, as is Chess Pie topped with strawberry ice cream.

Thoughts: The name for Five and Ten is derived from its original location at the corner of Highway 5 and Highway 10. A few years ago, Five and Ten relocated to Milledge Avenue which also serves as Fraternity and Sorority Row for students at the University of Georgia nearby.

The large home was built in 1913 and designed by architect Fred Orr, who is known for strategically placing an “O” somewhere in the design. You’ll see it centered in the roof line as you approach, towering over the front door. The building was a residence until 1970. Subsequently, it was an apartment building, a law firm and a furniture showcase before first becoming a restaurant in 2013. The nooks and crannies make for intimate and interesting table locations.

Service is attentive but discreet. The dishes coming from the kitchen are the undisputed stars of the show. Signature cocktails, beer and wine by the glass or the bottle round out the offerings at Five and Ten.

Price range: A 3-course prix fixe menu is offered each evening for $32. Snackies are $3-12. Small Plates are $9-14. Large Plates are $22-42, and Desserts are $6-9.

Connie Pearson

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