Editor’s note: Days after completing this review, Five Points Food & Drink announced its closure.
The building at 1017 N. Flores that once housed a gluten-free dining haven, Five Points Local, has a diverse food service history that also includes a vegetarian restaurant whose chef and owner live upstairs.
It was – and still is – a difficult mixture for a long time.
But the structure is not without charm that can be exploited by the dedicated owner and upper stabilizer. This was apparently the allure of Chef Michael Suhoki, who recently moved his popular downtown restaurants, Gwendolyn and Kimura, into a quirky space and even took advantage of the upstairs bar for an independent bar.
The place is still in progress. Although Sohocki did not indicate any changes underway to Kimura and his ramen format, he did suggest that he was reconsidering the decision to keep the Five Points name for the “European” side of the business.
It’s “very confusing,” he admitted, adding that Gwendolyn’s nickname might come back with a “bistro” brand.
Based on the new menu, it appears Sohocki has abandoned this restaurant’s ethos of sourcing ingredients from a limited local radius and avoiding electrical appliances in the kitchen as part of the move. However, a casual dinner is unlikely to notice the change.
The charcuterie board doesn’t head the small boards category on the list, but it might as well be. Sohocki has always had a strong charc, and this iteration is no exception. Smoked lomo, a crisp roasted slab of Gumali and some lardo coins – the apotheosis of bacon fat – form the backbone of the slate board. Delicious homemade pickles and “apple pie spiced” almonds provide flavor and texture contrast.
So-called “falafel with love” seemed like a side step in a menu that includes classic escargots and beef jerky, but if falafel is in fact “the attention it deserves” as the menu boasts, why not? After trying them, maybe not. The fried orbs of ground chickpeas were too crunchy for this gourmet. The ravioli with butter sage fell back into sync and was, if chewy around the edges, a beautiful display of the traditional Northern Italian pairing of pumpkin and walnut.
At three or four, the appetizer menu is short and, at first glance, disappointingly unpretentious given Sohocki’s aspirations at Gwendolyn. There usually seems to be steak – on one menu it was a New York bar, on another filet mignon – and the obligatory burger.
The seared market fish proved to be a skilled and crunchy-skinned mackerel, a variety of fish that can be greasy and assertive in other hands. An equally impressive risotto served as its pillow – unabashedly cheesy, bright with long whispers of white wine and cooked to that perfect point where there’s only a hint of resistance. I am happy to say that the kitchen gave the dish the attention it deserves.
The same goes for a baked pork chop, not usually a garnish to arouse thought or sexual desire. But if peeled pork can be sexy, a condition fueled and catalyzed by its companion of muslin potatoes fortified with an “annoying amount of butter,” here’s your chance. I’d only be tempted to add a stronger dose of heat to the Dijon cream that assembled into the dish like an accompaniment to an upscale fried chicken steak.
Sweets are few too, and if you are wary about consuming disturbing amounts of butter, feel free to go for white chocolate mousse or its current form. Homemade ice cream seems to be a better course of action in our case. The restaurant offers four flavors, each with its own unique point of view. Beat the seasoned peaches with a hair.
Wines are not a feature of the drinks served at the table, which is a disappointment for those who want to expand the European side of a “luxury casual” experience.
However, there is a selection of beers and drinks, along with a couple of ciders. Try the Texas Keeper project. You can certainly order a cocktail too, but why not head upstairs to Dash Bar before or after — or as the only destination for that matter. It is especially fun during happy hour from 4 to 7 pm.
Reflecting the multi-talented team Sohocki assembled, our server at one lunch was the bar’s stirrer and shaker the next, and served up trustworthy cocktails. The Crazy 88 is a classic French 75 Champagne-style spout that is unique in its addition to the floral matcha drink. The icy and fruity Butterfly Rumble features rum, blackberries and pea flower, an extract that enhances the purple color of the drink.
Five Points for Food and Beverage
1017 N Street. Flores | (210) 222-1849 | 11 AM – 11 PM Tuesday – Saturday
Entry prices: $18 – $42. The same menu is served throughout the day.
Best bets: Charcuterie board, ravioli in sage brown butter, grilled fish, classic risotto, muslin potatoes, special house cocktails.
meaty: Celebrity local chef Michael Suhoki has moved his two main sister restaurants, Gwendolyn and Kimura Ramen, from downtown to a quirky building on North Flores Street, adding an upstairs bar. The menu at Five Points Food & Drink is more formal and much less controversial than Gwendolyn’s. There are only three or four entrees, although a large list of small plates makes up for it. The crew’s kitchen skills didn’t wane with the action, elevating dishes like pork chops from the familiar to even higher realms.
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