Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Good Run Cut Short

It is generally the policy of The Other Dunwoody to avoid promoting the nicer places in the Southland in order to prevent them being overrun by selfish and shallow outsiders. Today we make an exception due to an incredibly exceptional event.

Cinco Y Diez is closed.

Take a moment to let that sink in...

...that's right, Cinco Y Diez, certainly amongst one of the finest restaurants in the foodie heaven of Athens GA has, in a move that is certain to shock anyone fortunate enough to dine there, abruptly closed its doors. It is absolutely gobstopping that with the backing of Hugh Acheson, his business partner Melissa Clegg and the culinary prowess of Executive Chef Whitney Otawka (formerly of Farm 255) that Cinco Y Diez not only did not succeed but had such a short run closing after only 10 months.

Based on cuisine, bar, service and overall execution this place was outstanding. For those familiar with Five and Ten, the award winning Acheson restaurant formerly at this location and now a block north, you would never recognize the interior. The building was clearly gutted and the dingy cramped interior replaced with an open, clean layout fitted out in the trendy modern industrial decor. Service second to none. Excellent bar service. Drinks properly made and a wine selection more than up to the task.

And the food...

In it's brief life, three visits (alongside two at big brother restaurant Five and Ten) left TOD diners with the inescapable conclusion the Cinco Y Diez was well positioned to give big brother a run for his money. While neither is/was a restaurant with easy to obtain reservations both are accessible when  date night and amateur hours are avoided. And while you are catching the kitchen at its best each staff has proven time and again they carry thru consistently from beginning to end of each dinner service.

At Cinco, no dish sampled was anything less that outstanding in flavour and presentation. And what that woman can do with a mushroom--the deconstructed tamale was to die for. One diner, a fan of onion rings (real onion rings, not those grease stains served at the Varsity) noticed them on the menu as part of the evening special and asked if the kitchen would serve just the rings. Done and done. When you can elevate the lowly onion ring to the level of Cinco you are in the presence of a top notch chef and kitchen.

And excellent service did not stop with orders off the menu. When one patron ordered a scotch and soda, well brand, the server deduced, rightly in this case, that the patron was thrifty. Upon finding there really was no "well brand" at the bar she returned to inform the patron that the bar does serve Johnnie Walker but that would be seven dollars and would that be all right? Wow. First the service. Then JW and soda for SEVEN dollars? Where in daVille can you get that drink at that price even with rude service? Hell, a baked potato at McKindrick's costs more than that. For a freakin' potato.

And perhaps therein lay the problem. In an interview Acheson bottom lined it: "The end result is a business that couldn't make it. That's it." Earlier in the same interview Acheson remarked that "you have to sell lots of F&B [Food and Beverage] to stay afloat" and as Shopsin famously noted "the profit is in the liquids." Perhaps that scotch should have been priced closer to Ten than to Five.