Foie Gras Foibles

Continuing on my tour of lounge menus at some of my favorite upscale restaurants, Big Hungry Melinda and I stopped by Number 5’s bar for a big glass of vino and some economical yet exciting eats. I love the concept of a bar menu – creative cuisine in smaller portions with a sense of whimsy and comfort most dinner menus are too chicken to carry. Number 5’s lounge menu is chock full of highlights from the dinner menu plus some innovative tummy-grabbers.

I’m a total sucker for fried pickles, and Number 5’s fried pickles and olives dish was even more intriguing than the BBQ-joint staple. Described as mixed olives and house made pickles tossed in panko mixture, flash fried with crisp lemon and sage (BTW, I wish chefs would let PR people write their menus, because this description has about five things wrong with it), this appetizer was a mushy, soggy, horrible mess when brought to us. I never, ever send dishes back, but I took one bite, flagged down the elderly barman, and asked him to try again. Plate number two was much improved. The pickles were still a little flabby for my standards, but the olives were interesting and crispy with salty goodness. I liked the touch of the fried sage, and the basil-based dipping sauce was pretty clutch.

Double fry my pickles, please

Melinda beat me to the punch and ordered the lobster mac and cheese. Land sakes alive, could there be a more diabolically genius creation? This iteration is a strong contender in the spectrum of macs. The lobster was prevalent and up front, while the cheese took a back seat to the briny lushness. A nice crust on top gave that hint of crunch to break up all the creamy softness.


My order was about two-thirds awesome but about one-third lacking. Like, just 25 percent more effort would have made it fantastic, but someone decided to kind of phone it in that day. The kobe sliders were a little confusing on the menu – I thought all three would have foie gras, caramelized onions and blue cheese, but in fact, each one had a different topping – but pretty tasty despite my misunderstanding. Also, the presentation could have been better, as you’ll see below. The brown-on-brown burgers plunked on a plain white plate was not all that appetizing. But this was my first ever real taste of foie gras (goose liver), and I was so joyful over it, I didn’t care in that moment what my plate looked like. The foie gras was like meat silk. Does that sound gross? Because it's not, it's wonderful. The patties were tender and juicy, as kobe should be. Overall, I would give this dish a thumbs up.

Slide some foie gras my way!

There are some issues I had here, beyond the food. The barman/waiter we had was rude and couldn’t hear a thing over the loud bar and live band – if they need to devise an ordering scheme to accommodate him, fine, but our service really fell on the side of unacceptable. I was shouting at him to be heard, and when finally I shouted (I guess) too loud for him, he snapped at me. Also, the whole live band thing is just a bit of a challenge in a space that small. Number 5 either needs to have their bands turn down the volume a good notch or two, or dispense with live music that early in the evening. But the lounge menu is solid, and a wonderful concept. I’m giving it around a six on the BHS scale, as opposed to the nine I gave the dining room last year.

The whole concept of a bar menu in an upscale dining restaurant, again, is genius. It’s a great entrée for people who might be curious about a more expensive restaurant, or who don’t have the funds to dine at ritzy places on a regular basis, but still like to treat themselves. For me, it was a casual way to try a delicacy I’ve been wanting to sample for ages. So check out Number 5, in Binghamton, and let me know what you think! My personality is big, my hunger is bigger!

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