After the aforementioned disappointment at Parish, woe compounded as I delivered the cinetrix to the airport, and thus to SXSW. Meanwhile, I faced a trudge home back across Georgia, and an afternoon of proof-correcting (tedious), as TGCHQ is currently deserted, (w00t) I opted to hole up in Athens, where there would be a bit of human activity to distract me. As it happened the coffee shop I found self in was not far from 5&10. I'd heard rumors of a new prix fixe menu, and wanted to see if they were true. They were.* I elected to stick around long enough for an early solo dinner, in order to console myself for grim Friday meal.
It was a good choice -- there are 2 PF menus, and I opted for the one that was fava & mint & Benton's ham / pork confit & pimento grits /chess pie.** It was a revelation, and everything the previous meal had not been. The app was understated and intense at the same time, and made you think about what you were eating. The pork confit, which could easily go in the direction of "Tonight I'm gonna rock you tonight"*** excess" was everything the previous night's pork had not been - ridicuously tender, but not unctious, with just a hint of crisp via the confiting. I was wary of the pimento grit combo, but there was just enough of it to set off the confit. The chess pie, if nothing else would suggested the benefits of having a pastry chef, rather than a microwave, but it was also a solid take on a Southern classic.
The takeaway? Finesse and restraint are perhaps the most underrated and valuable assets for a restaurant working in a vaguely Southern idiom. I've said this before in other contexts, but it's the boxing, and not the punching, that makes a meal.
*Now the 3 course PF is available throughout service, rather than just at AARP hours.
**To get a better bargain at a serious restaurant, you'd need to make Eric Ripert fix you a truite au bleu for free at gunpoint. And that there are 2 menus suggests that it might not be a bad spot for a date.
***Lest we forget: