When Five & Diamond opened in March, the most alluring items on the menu came from the bar food category. Early write-ups spoke of shrimp and grits hush puppies and deviled eggs on pork toast.
Now, about two months later, that section of the menu has been scaled down to a few plates — mac and cheese, beet salad, market vegetables, a burger, grilled shrimp. It was probably a good idea to simplify things, though, because the service is still a bit confused. “Not much meat on her, but what’s there is choice,” said Spencer Tracy to Katharine Hepburn, and the same is true here.
The burger ($13) — which chef Ryan Skeen became known for at Resto and Irving Mill — is still the chef’s specially mixed blend of beef cheek, flap steak, and pork fatback.
The meat is coarsely ground and juicy, seared to a gorgeous golden-crunchy salty crust on the outside, and properly pink and mineral-tasting throughout, for medium-rare. The effect is: meat! It’s also nicely proportioned — many fancy burgers weigh in at eight ounces, hulking and hard to eat (if delicious). This one is six ounces, still a big burger, and with enough mass to maintain a bloody center, but not as overwhelming to eat. The soft potato bun doesn’t quite hold up, though, disintegrating in the meat’s juices. The fries are pretty good — short, fat rectangles, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Those potatoes also come with the grilled shrimp ($13), this time sided by smoked paprika mayo. The shrimp are grilled with their heads on so that you can suck out their briny juices. Although they’re a bit over-salted, the charred crustaceans are heartily enjoyable.
2072 Frederick Douglass Boulevard