Despite my initial impression of 5 Seasons Brewing Company over in Midtown, Atlanta, I was both willing and able to make a return visit. In the two months since, I’ve made three return trips. To be honest, I’ll have a very hard time mustering up the guts for a 4th. As you may have surmised, this cavernous restaurant spends a lot of time talking, and little time delivering (both figuratively and literally).
I won’t spend too much time talking about 5 Seasons layout. However, the high ceilings and lack of sound dampening accents make this restaurant offensively loud. Perhaps done to evoke a “ooh this place is hopping” attitude, the reality is that I find myself having to talk louder than I care to even the closest of dining companions (and I’m a talker).
While the staff at 5 Seasons has been pretty friendly, I have yet to see proficient service. At this point, I’d settle for something passable. This past meal was particularly bad. The group was initially nine deep. After some time, we had the opportunity to place our orders. The waitress took the orders and then disappeared for many many moons. Turns out, she was also pulling double duty (or at least, that’s what it appeared). She spent a significant amount of time behind the bar. I must admit, I didn’t really watch to see what she was doing back there, but the poor girl was definitely running around with her head cut off. All signs point to a failure in the system.
Over the next 30-minutes, we had great discussion, but no food and little drink. The refills were hard to come by, and requests for water went unfulfilled. About half-way through our wait, the 10th man finally showed up. He was able to put in an order and then join the rest of the group in the twiddling of thumbs. Unfortunately, this dead zone has occurred every meal and regardless of party size, time of day, or anything else for that matter.
When the wait finally ended, food came out half-cocked and lost. Our late arriver was the first to receive his food – by a good two minutes. If that weren’t bad enough, two of us had ordered appetizers. As luck would have it, both were for lobster bisque (mine a cup, his a bowl). Neither was served until the entrées showed up, and BOTH were lukewarm and SANS spoon. I had hoped to mention this to a server during the delivery process, but they were so disorganized, I didn’t have the heart. None of the servers knew where to go, and everything came out several minutes apart. Not a huge deal at a table of four, but when this happens at a table of ten, 12-minutes of delivery time is unacceptable (yes – I counted).
5 Seasons inability to systematically deliver food to patrons, to drop apps off the same time as entrées, and to forget basic utensils is most alarming. While they haven’t failed on all three fronts during each of my three meals, each problem has reared its ugly head multiple times. It just so happens that this past meal was a failure on all fronts.
Despite the failure in service, I had hopes that food at 5 Seasons gave them a fighting chance. However, they were TKO’d by the first round. For a gastro pub of this ilk, one that prides itself on farm fresh ingredients, you would expect them to do a better job with sourcing. I’m not going to go through all the ins-and-outs of the menu at 5SB; what I will say is that a lot of items I saw on the menu are not in season in this neck of the woods. That means they are getting them from outside the region and thus undermining the very definition of farm fresh.
I have yet to put anything in my mouth at 5 Seasons that provokes my thought process positively. There have been things that don’t bother me (fries and greens come to mind), however, more often than not, poor service has left me wondering if the fries were soaked in ice. In other words: food comes cold waaay too much.
The bisque from our last meal showed fairly strong. The sherry provided the flavor that I’ve come to expect from a good bisque. Unfortunately, the lobster was awfully hard to find and when it did make an appearance, it was obviously overcooked. All in, not an offensive dish – but considering this was one of the better things I’ve had at 5 Seasons, I’m not itching to try it again.
My po’ boy left me queasy. It was served open face and for no good reason. Check that, the reason was to show off the goods. As it turns out, this was a mistake for several reasons. Assembly was difficult to say the least. Tomatoes and oysters constantly fell out and had to be wedged back in. Meanwhile, there was a bright green spinach “paste” that covered the top half of the sandwich. Topped with three slices of bright red tomato and small touches of caviar, the site was a little unnerving. Once assembled, bites of the sandwich became more daunting as time went by. Tomatoes were all over the place (see picture), and the flavor profile for this was not good. It didn’t help that the oysters were fried at least a good minute too long; still, that wouldn’t have saved this. The spinach topping was almost putrid, when mixed with the saltiness of the caviar, we have a stomach war in the making. The bread was run of the mill and had not been stored well. It was dried out and did little to move the sandwich in one direction or the other. Given their proximity to Tiny Bistro, if you are in the area and hankering for a sammy, skip 5SBC and walk the 50-yards down the block.
Not everything I have had here has been that bad. Still, the failures far outweigh even the passable options. Flavor combinations teeter back and forth between reserved and head scratching. If you can get a hot pizza, it probably won’t bother you. Meanwhile, the prices here don’t justify the portions. Whatever the focus point of your order (be it sandwich, steak, or other), seem to be a little small for what they are asking. I feel like 5 Seasons uses side orders in excess to make up for the aforementioned shortcoming.
I won’t go so far as to claim that every piece of food at 5SBC is a complete disaster. It’s just that I have yet to find something that moves me. Meanwhile, many of the items have left a bad taste in my mouth and the disastrous elements that complete the dining experience are most alarming. So maybe there is a real jewel somewhere on that menu, but at this point, I’m not willing to sacrifice time or dollars to find it.
Ratings (Explained Here)