Situated in the side streets of Sydney’s inner-city suburbs, a flawless dining affair awaits people from all walks of life seeking quality food and an amiable vibe. Alexandria being “a good mix of commercial warehouses, residential high rise and low density units”, Restaurant no. 5 embraces the community spirit with its chic, industrial interiors – just the right amount of edge any couple would desire when spicing up their midweek date night.
Walking through the ginormous garage-like entrance, the noticeably unique and utterly attractive setting – sporting a fireplace, rustic brick walls, indoor fernery, mismatched embellishments and sultry cocktail bar – feels like a home away from home; a luxurious yet down-to-earth living space.
The bustling social atmosphere in conjunction with the genuine wait staff who are modestly intellectual in every aspect of the food and wine space, brings a solid sense of warmth. From helpful recommendations to quizzing your personality when it comes to taste, they’ll match you with plates and aperitifs that you’ll instantly fall in love with.
We began our evening with a heavenly round of cocktails – The Brass Monkey and the Fino Colada – which conclusively became our combined favourites from the selection of aperitifs on offer at no. 5. The Monkey boasted a cheeky fusion of dark rum, maraschino, passionfruit, lime and over-proof rum; an inviting and radically flavoursome concoction tied in with the theatrical performance of fire and interactive stirring, making it a touch more personal and intriguing.
My guest Chelsea, who chose this particular cocktail to sample, was in immediate awe and internally celebrated the spot-on ratio of cherry and rum; a cocktail unification we both agree is incredibly enticing, packed with punch and flavour. My Fino Colada was the personal favourite, winning by a fraction with its perfected creamy consistency embodying the soul of an exotic holiday meets intoxicating memories.
The head chef (Emrys Jones) took care of us by personally selecting our starters, shared mains and delectable array of desserts. The first indulgence was the salt baked beetroot with feta, fig, elderflower honey and walnut.
The enchanting construction and rainbow of colours and textures was one thing, but the actual flavours of the dish (paired with the wholemeal treacle & beer bread + nori butter) had upstaged every form of presentation. I’m unsure if this is biased due to my long-term love affair for walnuts and figs, however the combination was just perfect. It was autumn on a plate.
To follow, we tried the soy pickled egg with a tofu dressing. The eccentricity and unconventional appeal boosted the value of this dish and quickly became my favourite of the evening. Strong aromas of sweet soy amongst other zests was as beautifully bizarre as it was refreshing. Chelsea and I had never quite tried anything quite like it!
Whilst chit-chatting about relationships and work life (the usual conversation one would find themselves in midweek with a best friend), I slowly sipped on the Knockout Nightcap; a liquid form of magic I regrettably ordered too soon. I would absolutely advise requesting this drink at the end of the evening – especially with how it’s all in the name: ‘nightcap’ – as it was a perfectly piquant endnote. The smokey-sensation consisted of cocoa-infused mezcal, mr. black and sweet vermouth. As Chelsea would say, all I needed to complete ‘the look’ was a cigar in my other hand!
Our next plate to arrive was the grilled baby octopus with almond, xo and chive oil. I found the ratio of spice and flavour to meet perfectly in the middle, whereas Chelsea found the dish to be just a touch too chilli.
Our main to follow was the Black Angus flank with miso and beef fat hollandaise sauce paired with broccolini that was tossed in sesame and smoked garlic. A beautiful musical number with an array of histrionic aromas dancing around our plates. We couldn’t fault it. If this was a theatre production, we’d be yelling ‘encore!’; perhaps not exactly the correct volume nor phrase to be howling in a restaurant, but we gave our praise to the chef noting it was an enormously powerful performance of flavours.
We paired the 2019 Hither and Yon Tempranillo (McLaren Vale, SA) with our main; a liquid form of courage boasting ‘clove/cinnamon spice’ and ‘choc-cherry ripe fruitiness’ with some ‘depth of brown earth’ and ‘fine grained tannin on the finish’. A great partner-in-crime for this wickedly tasty spread.
We concluded the evening on a sweet note with the white chocolate, grapefruit sorbet and meringue as well as the miso cake, paired with a bossy cocktail named ‘Doctor’s Orders’: Irish whiskey, peated whiskey, benedictine, lemon and burnt honey. A zesty pocket rocket!
Chelsea and I share a commonality of not being naturally animated over kuchen-style sweet treats, yet the cake takes the cake this time! The moist body of miso was especially impressive; an imaginative round of applause encompassing our minds as we polished off the plate within seconds. The white chocolate dessert was also fascinating with its textures and fusion of its hero ingredient (the sour sorbet) with the creamy and crunchy elements.
Without further ado, not only do I recommend Restaurant No. 5 for its whimsical yet also simplistic Asian-Australian menu, but for its overall vibe that authentically and undeniably fits any type of occasion. As their philosophy reads: “great food is meant to be shared”.
Wednesday to Friday from 4pm-Late
Saturday & Sunday from 12pm-Late
Pic: Head chef, Emrys Jones.