Prior to my first visit last Saturday night, several things puzzled me about Five Star Restaurant, such as its lonely location on West Hargett Street, its brash choice of name, and the thinking behind the decision to make “hide your cats” part of website title.
Despite all of this, I had heard a lot of good things about Five Star. From online reviews to a complete stranger sitting next to me at the Flying Saucer (who told me that his Thursday evening ritual started with a few pints at the Saucer and dinner at Five Star), the consensus was positive, save for some grumbling about the service. But, it wasn’t until recently that I had the chance to check it out for myself. When I posted my arrival on Foursquare, I received an enthusiastic response from a bunch of my “friends.”
I started with a lychee martini. The drink was generous, probably a third larger than the martinis you find at most restaurants and bars in Raleigh. Lychee has a unique fruity taste. The sweet martini proved to be a nice paring with my spicy meal. My only quibble is that the drink was a little on the weak side.
The heat seeker shrimp appetizer came out of the kitchen quickly. Again, the portion was substantial, especially for an appetizer. The shrimp was covered with a sweet and spicy glaze that had me reaching repeatedly for the lychee drink. The garnish was sort of a play on Buffalo wings; the thin slices of celery and carrot added a little coolness to the heat of the shrimp.
I was only about half-way through the shrimp appetizer when the General Chicken entrée came out of the chicken. The hot and sweet theme continued with the General Chicken; chicken breast, broccoli, and a brown sauce that had a good deal of heat from hot chili peppers. As with the heat seeker shrimp, the entrée was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the ingredients tasted fresh.
General Tso’s Chicken, though ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants in this country, apparently did not original in China. Five Star does not make any pretensions of making authentic Chinese food. What Five Star is successful at is producing very good food in a modern and stylish but relaxed atmosphere.
The food at Five Star was every bit as good as I had heard about. The food arrived promptly, and the server was attentive and polite. I can imagine making this part of my Thursday evening ritual.
511 West Hargett Street • Raleigh, NC 27603