5th Element, Winner for Best Service (Winterlicious 2013)

My Winterlicious experiment continues….

I am the go-to person when it comes to planning food outings and trips. I put in hours of research when planning an event or choosing a restaurant. For example, if I am planning a dinner, I like to read reviews of the restaurant and also look at pictures of the food before I make a final decision.

Right before Christmas I decided to plan a dinner for myself and 5 friends. I knew that the restaurant I chose had to be affordable, the food had to be good, and the service had to be acceptable. I was reviewing several restaurants when I stumbled upon 5th Elementt’s website. And I will be honest, what really caught my eye was the 2 for 1 dinner special. The reviews for the restaurant were okay. Not great, but not bad either. I am not sure why I decided to give this restaurant a chance considering there were limited reviews and pictures online for me to assess.  But I did.

This review will not be like my other reviews. I generally give a step-by-step breakdown of my experience and the breakdown of each dish, but it will not be the case here. The thing is, we thought that every dish was good. The issues we had were minor and I will point them out in the dish description later in this post. Though, inasmuch as there were no bad dishes, there were also no standouts.

Here are the first 5 reasons why I deem this restaurant to be the winner for best service:

1) Attentive but not overbearing staff. The waiter was always nearby, but allowed us to eat our meal in peace.

2) Accommodating. If not happy with a dish, to be offered other options.  I did not like a dessert and the waiter offered me other desserts.

3) Staff goes out of their way. I love bhatura; a fried Indian bread. I asked the waiter if it was on their regular menu, and he said no. When I received my main the waiter brought out a large bhatura. The chef made it specially for me. Awesome!

4) Patient. I had a lot of questions about the dishes, and the waiter was always eager to answer them or inquire with the chef if he did not have an answer.

5) On the ball. I could not finish a main, and the waiter came back with a take out container before I even asked for one.

The food:

1) Good portions. Not too much food, but not stingy either.

2) Every dish was beautifully plated.

3) We all either finished our dishes or took them home to eat later. No one left food behind. That is always a good sign.

4) The flavors were well-balanced. If you wanted it less spicy or more spicy, the request was accommodated.

5) We all felt comfortable sharing the food and passing it around. It felt like eating at home with family during the holidays.

Now, let me show you some of the dishes. Please note that I took the pictures during different visits (I have been to the restaurant twice). I have a new camera and I am still learning how to use it. Hence, some pictures are better than others.

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I fell in love with this tea. It tasted like cinnamon hearts. Sweet and spicy.

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Apple and Lentil Soup with Parsley Croutons

Very good soup. Only negative was that the croutons were soggy and because of it, they were chewy.

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Chicken Pakora

Chick pea batter fried chicken served with plum chutney. All white meat! A healthy and tastier version of chicken fingers.

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Baked Crab Cake and Fish Tikki

Crab meat baked in the shell served with king fish tikki and ginger coconut broth. A crowd favorite. I found the king fish tikki to be a little salty, but it was balanced out by the addition of the salad.

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Naan

The table received a basket of naan. It was nice and hot.

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Bhatura

Oh my bhatura. I love this! The only minor issue that I had with it was that the dough had a couple of holes in it and as a result the oil sipped into the middle of the bread. Normally the bread is crispy on the outside and moist in the middle with no oil. But I am nitpicking here. It was delicious.

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Butter Chicken

Clay oven roasted chicken cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. It’s butter chicken. Enough said. This dish had large pieces of white meat. I hate the one’s with fat still on the meat. This one certainly did not have that problem.

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Hyderabad Nizami Goat

Goat cooked with almonds and cashews. This was a good dish. The meat was falling off the bone and the curry sauce was flavorful. I could not finish it so I took the rest home and ate it later that evening.

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IMG_0416Pepper Lamb Cooked with Peppercorn and Ginger

My friend was worried that the dish would be overpowered by ginger, but that was not the case. It was a well-balanced dish.

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Shrimp Moilee in Coconut Curry Sauce

I do not like onions but I also did not want to get butter chicken since I always get butter chicken (butter chicken should not have pieces of onions). In this dish the onions were so fine that you could not taste them. A big plus for me. Another plus were the large succulent shrimps.

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Crème brûlée

This dessert was good. Not great, but not bad. The sugar needed to be caramelized more.

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Pistachio Kulfi Served with Rose Gulkand

I don’t know why I did not like this dessert. Everyone else on the table enjoyed it. I think it was the after-taste that did not appeal to me

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Gulab jamuns with vanilla ice cream

My cousin and I call these “our sweet brown balls.” We are terrible. I love eating gulab jamuns with custard or ice cream to balance out the sweetness of the “balls.” The ice cream was definitely a smart addition.

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Verdict? I would return.

People’s perspective of this restaurant is all over the map. My experience was good, but I cannot deny that there are several negative reviews out there. I am giving you my honest and subjective opinion. You be the judge.

5th Elementt on Urbanspoon

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