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Archive for January, 2009

Jazz at The Fifth

23 Jan

A series of unfortunate circumstances has kept me from posting a blog for far too long but the time for silence is over. On Thursday night, we sashayed through the snow to The Fifth to check out the latest adventure on offer in that delightful spot. Clever owner Libell Geddes has been wondering how to make the best use of her Terrace on Thursday evenings and has decided to bring in a live jazz group and a new menu of tapas-style dishes. If you have visions of shivering on an ice-covered rooftop, let me reassure you that the Terrace is completely enclosed and as warm and convivial as some beach cabana under its handsome wooden roof. The band – a trio of piano, guitar and bass – were excellent and quite content to play in the background as the room filled up with merry guests.
We began with a cocktail and far too many of those delectable cheese straws they put out on the bar, then we moved to a table and began to explore the new menu. Service was as friendly and expert as ever and sommelier Christian Huot has extracted an interesting and reasonably priced gathering of wines (plenty from Ontario) from the restaurant’s full list (which is also available should anyone ask). He suggested a wonderfully intense, slightly funky marsanne-rousanne blend from Domaine Hegarty in Minervois as the accompaniment to the lobster poutine, a dish that is fast becoming a Thursday night favourite among the jazz crowd. Chef Bernard Ibanez (here on a winter sabbatical from his summer gig at the Inn at Manitou) builds it with yummy fries, cheese curds, tender nuggets of lobster and lobster bisque. We also ordered Raspberry Point oysters with apple mignonette and gorgeous grilled lamb chops – frenched and not too rare – which come with a dab of mashed potato on the plate. Like the poutine, they constitute a main course but one could happily graze all evening on the tapas from the other side of the menu, priced between $4 and $13. For people too lazy to make decisions, “appetizer platters” bring together four or five items – maybe sweet serrano ham, excellent beef carpaccio with shaved parmesan and arugula, guacamole and salsa (served with not quite enough tortilla chips), irresistible marinated, pitted olives and the aforementioned cheese sticks.
The whole evening was charmingly relaxed and casual – a most affordable way to experience The Fifth’s particular brand of easy-going sophistication. I have no illusions about the effort required to put together an entirely new menu and way of service one night a week, but luckily our role is simply to sit back and enjoy it. I think it will become a weekly habit.