FIVE and Dine at FIVE in Berkeley
FIVE is a white-tablecloth restaurant, and consuming a quick one-plate lunch here while sitting in a posh dining room lined with potted palms and mirrors under a crystal chandelier might sound slightly surreal, but after all, this modern American bistro and bar is located in Berkeley, California, where stranger things have happened.
A new concept at FIVE is a weekly changing lunch plate inspired by seasonal farm-fresh produce. Five mini-courses on the plate include salad, entrée, sauce, bread, and dessert. Served fast and all at once, these quick meals allow hurried professionals to have their lunch out and eat it, too, not taking any extra time from the working hours.
The plate upon which the five courses are served, is rather a rectangular tray with partitions for each course, so it resembles a TV dinner from the now-nostalgically regarded time period of Mad Men. Another nod to the great epoch is expressed in the name FIVE and Dine, a take on the historical Five and Dime convenience stores.
The ingredients for this lunchtime piece of the 1950s Americana come from the always abundant and overflowing with locally-grown fruit and vegetables Berkeley farmer’s market.
According to Executive Chef Banks White, he shops at the market every Saturday, and comes up with the lunch menu based on his weekly purchases. On the day I lunched, the FIVE and Dine tray contained corn and black bean salad; cubed pork with salsa verde over white rice; tortillas; roasted tomato salsa, and cinnamon churros.
FIVE and Dine lunch is usually accompanied by a glass of lemonade or iced tea, and served at a set price of $15.
The restaurant occupies the first floor of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza – recently redesigned in a bold eclectic style – and is decorated in a dramatic black, white, and blood-red color scheme.
It has a full bar, high ceiling with the said crystal chandelier, intriguing décor, large windows overlooking downtown Berkeley, and is a place where the ambiance alone is worth the price of lunch.
To make sure you hit the weekly assortment to your liking, check out the FIVE Facebook page every Monday morning for an update on the FIVE and Dine lunch.