After three years of passing and peaking into 5 Ninth on my walk home from work and even planning a few events there for my old managers, I finally made a reservation for myself, which was incentivized by a Google-provided 20% discount. Looking like a quaint cottage in an area with modern storefronts and rooftop bars, with three narrow stories and plenty of outdoor space on both ends of the restaurant, this place definitely stands out as breath of fresh air in terms of aesthetics. I can’t say that the restaurant shares the youthful, upbeat energy of the Meatpacking in which it resides, but some may consider this a God-send when it feels like eating elsewhere requires aggressive advanced planning or elbow poking crowds.
The menu is American and somewhat unadventurous with its variety – it has the classic roast chicken, one or two fish dishes, a couple of pastas and a small selection of salads and appetizers. Mike, Sonia and I split the greek salad, which we were convinced could not go wrong. And while it didn’t fail, the tomatoes and cucumbers were sort of…depressing. Served look warm and over-dressed, the vegetables lacked crunch and the feta had more of the texture of a creamy blue cheese than a crumbly white one.
My next dish was fairly simple – a grilled striped bass served with swiss chard and white beans. I was pleasantly surprised that it arrived hot out of the oven and traditionally prepared, but the swiss chard was so tough and stringy it was nearly impossible to chew. Mike’s roast chicken had crispy skin but excessive fat, and was served surrounding an overwhelming abundance of “mojo” sauce, a sweet and sour salsa that made the spinach and lentils look like an afterthought.
Despite the stale bread that we had only received after asking, I was close to leaving 5 Ninth satisfied, though not impressed, by my experience. The manager gave us a special thanks for coming and the scene outside was quite serene. But just as we were exiting, I couldn’t help but suddenly notice vigorous rustling in the black dumpster situated to my left. And once we realized that the sound wasn’t coming from a person, but from some kind of live animal, all positive memories vanished.
Yes, I know I’m living in denial to think that most restaurants in New York aren’t plagued with infestations, but the last thing I could ask for is to discover them mid-meal. It’s too bad that I left disappointed because the restaurant definitely has potential – it just needs to clean up its act, starting with the obvious – no seating customers next to garbage cans. That said, apparently they have a great deal for Happy Hour, so for such a beautiful setting, and I think it’s safe to assume that the rats aren’t focused on the booze.
Location: 5 Ninth Avenue at Gansevoort Street