If not for our friends, we would never have known about Five & Dime. It's one of those places that's flown so below the radar despite the fact that it's been around for at least a year. A tiny but cosy hole-in-the-wall premises along River Valley Road, Five & Dime oozes a casual laidback vibe. We like it for its unpretentious and easy ambience. In line with the eatery's relaxed atmosphere, the food served up is simple, no-fuss western favourites with an asian twist.
Service was generally easy-going and fairly energetic and upbeat, we notice that it's due to a young-ish team of servers. Oh, an important point to note is that reservations is a must - we were there on a Wednesday night and they were full from dinner to supper.
Generally, dinner was a hit and miss affair. Some were memorably great in their simplicity and boast a familiar, comfort-food element about it, but some were disappointingly lackluster.
The Fish & Chips ($20) are one of the better renditions that we've had in a while, and a quick
glance at the other tables proves that the classically British fare is
quite a popular hit. Thin light crisp batter, fresh, fleshy, flaky shark catfish fillets and thick handcut fries that are coated in the same flavoursome batter as the fish, these were delicious.
Their Chicken Wings ($7 for 3 wings and drumlets) is an absolute MUST-TRY. Next to Ikea's version, these are the best chicken wings this side of town. No more braving the long queues at Ikea whenever the craving for chicken wings strikes. These had a old-school quality about it, like those 70-cents wings that you used to enjoy in your school canteens. Deeply marinated with 9 different asian spices so the flavour soaks right to the bone, lip-smackingly juicy and wonderfully crisp skin, these were just purrrrr-fect. I foresee us taking away a lot of their chicken wings. YUMS.
The Mac & Cheese ($15), though, is an acquired taste. In addition to the lobster sauce infused into the 3 cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan), the distinctive flavour of mentaiko is layered upon the already rich seafood base. This is where the chef's Japanese cuisine background has obviously influenced this dish. A bit too cloying and rich, if you ask me. That said, this would be great if you love everything mentaiko, but not so much, if you're like me, who prefers the creamy pollock roe in small doses.
The Char-Grilled Ribeye ($28), a slab of 200gm of NZ grain-fed red meat, served with grilled vine tomatoes and asparagus, was entirely forgettable, insipid and generally lacking in finesse. No smoky elements of a great grill, and not robust enough in flavour.
Five & Dime
297 River Valley Road
Tel: 9236 5002
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 12noon to 12midnight;
Fridays to Sundays from 10am to 12midnight.