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An early brunch at Five Points

by Brian Clarey

BY BRIAN CLAREY editor@yesweekly.com

I generally don’t like to go to a restaurant when it first opens. Not to write about it, anyway.

I’ve worked in more than a few new restaurants, and I know that things can change drastically in the first few weeks of operation: menu and staff changes, kitchen makeovers and tweaks to the system.

It’s not really fair to critique a restaurant in the first few weeks of operation, let alone the first few days. But I was in Winston-Salem on Saturday with my father for the tennis tournament, we wanted to have brunch and dammit, I wanted to try Five Points, the new concern on Stratford Road in the same space that once housed the Buena Vista Grille, which closed before I had a chance to check it out.

Five Points is a real restaurant — tablecloths, informed servers, an interesting bar. The have a lunch menu with artfully prepared salads, unique sandwiches and some hot stuff like pasta, seafood and gourmet small plates. For dinner service, a hickory grill turns out burgers, ribs, steaks and chops, and there is an awful lot of lobster on the menu.

But brunch — the restaurant’s first ever brunch service, as it turned out — is a more simple affair, with the menu divided into a sweet category — a short list of wafles and French Toast — and a savory list based on egg dishes.

I was interested in the zucchini frittata, loaded with veggies and Goat Lady cheese. I gave a second look to the eggs Benedict, always a solid choice. I toyed with the idea of the Five Points scramble, made with signature duck-fat potatoes and serious bacon. But I settled on the Carolina hash, a take on the traditional dish with pulled pork, the duck-fat potatoes and a smidge of Carolina barbecue sauce, topped by a couple of poached eggs.

Service began with a basket of deep-fried yeast rolls that had been dusted with cinnamon and sugar and served with a raspberry butter — not for the faint of heart, but for a couple of guys about to go to a sporting event it was perfect. They also serve excellent coffee, according to my father.

Our food came out quickly — good for a prolonged brunch service because it enables servers to turn tables over a few times through the course of the meal, though we never felt rushed and the dining room on this first brunch was at less than capacity.

Mine was beautiful: house-smoked pork shoulder with just the right texture, contrasted with those soft, duck-fat potatoes .I could eat a whole bucket of them. The eggs were perfectly poached — obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many “professional” cooks can’t pull this off. And the ’cue sauce added a nice touch of vinegar to the proceedings.

My father got the smoked salmon Benedict, which substitutes smoked salmon for the Canadian bacon in the traditional dish, and was pleased with his choice.

And each dish came with a large bowl of fresh fruit that had clearly been prepped that very day. Throughout the meal, our server and other front-of-the-house personnel came to our table to inquire about our experience, creating a feedback loop that will surely contribute to the adjustments the place will make in its first few weeks of operation.

But I don’t think there will be too many. As it stands, Five Points is on solid ground.

WANNA go?

109 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem; 336.448.0970

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