There are no golden arches at the newest member of the restaurant family of Casey Glowacki and Joe Fischbein.
No “250 billion served” or “75 hamburgers per second,” but golden sails fly over the attractive herb-lined patio that is home to the Mount Pleasant location of Five Loaves Cafe. It joins its downtown sister property at 43 Cannon St. in serving healthy choices for lunch and dinner.
The second Five Loaves location moved down the “block” in the Crickentree Village late last winter. They took over the former Village Tavern space. Skylights and patio doors lifted the darkness of this former music pub.
In their proud tradition of recycling, much of the interior of the restaurant has been repurposed, refinished or reclaimed. From barn wood to baskets, beadboard to bricks, Five Loaves whitewashes the new space in the best sense of the word.
It’s a little bit coastal, a little bit industrial. Walls the color of red plums warm the coolness of concrete floors. Inverted basket chandeliers lend country charm over tables set with modern brushed aluminum chairs. And do check out the culinary quotes lettered on each tabletop.
There are two dining areas as well as a bar with a community table and an outdoor patio. Expansion has allowed these long-term partners to bring a cocktail and craft beer program into the mix, offer Sunday brunch and operate with a bit more breathing space.
Oh, and that former location slightly north, it will become an event space for both Five Loaves Cafes and its burger emporia, Sesame Burgers and Beer. Plans are to be up and running in June.
Five Loaves is proud of its green program of recycling and using biodegradable products; serving antibiotic-free, South Carolina-raised poultry; hormone-free, pasture-raised beef; purchasing local fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts; and partnering with beer and wine purveyors who share a common conscience.
Saffron Cafe & Bakery is its current dessert provider.
Five Loaves roasts all its own meats for a substantial sandwich program. Mozzarella is pulled in-house, and the kitchen makes its own pastas. Soups vary by the day and will include a vegetarian and vegan selection. And if you cannot make up your mind, there is a trio of small pours for $4.25.
Expect to see a daily special for soup, appetizer, seafood, risotto and entree. The lunch menu can be ordered all day, and sandwiches are graciously available in half-portions. Entree prices are quite fair. In fact, you can make multiple visits per week to Five Loaves and not feel you’ve been stripped of your cash.
Glowacki and Fischbein met over the pots and pans of Sal Parco’s Mustard Seed restaurant. Armed with local experiences at Magnolias and TBonz, as well as a stint Glowacki did with Elizabeth Terry in Savannah, the partners felt well-schooled and well-tooled to try a solo venture. They aim to offer “fresh, delicious food with a friendly and calm ambience.” In that, they succeed.
They have a sense of humor about their work, and fans of the alcohol-free Arnold Palmer will enjoy an adult beverage of Mrs. Palmer made with Sweet Tea Vodka ($8). The additional bar space permits an expanded craft beer program, and the current cocktail buzz finally gets its due.
The menu is staked with a nod to health and wellness. Honest, hearty fare can be had for a wallet-friendly price.
Salads are fresh and are available in half- and whole portion sizes ($4.10-$8.50). They also offer small dinner and Caesar salads during dinner service for $3.75. The spring mix was crisp and chilled, and cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds and Parmesan cheese provided both texture and taste notes to an easy eating first course.
The daily soup, a vichyssoise ($4 cup), had great potato-leek flavor, and its surface swirled with creme fraiche and was speckled with chives. It needed to be chilled, though, and not tepid.
The pasta menu offers classic spaghetti and meatballs for $12, as well as uptown blue crab and artichoke hearts tossed with spaghetti in a spicy shellfish broth.
The parms of chicken and eggplant ($13, $11) are jazzed with red roasted peppers and topped with slippery pillows of fresh mozzarella.
The entree menu sprouts two entrees for vegetarians: a stir-fry that embraces your choice of Chinese hoisin sauce or Thai peanut sauce ($11) or a marinated portobello mushroom ($12) served over a vegetable ragout. Those who care to eat meatless are not culinary stepchildren here.
Tilapia picatta ($15) took the traditional Italian preparation with lemon, wine and capers and plated the fish over chunky roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The spinach side was raw, and the heat of the fish could not wilt the greens, which was an odd mouth-feel mix. But the dish itself had merit.
A similar misstep occurred with the glazed salmon ($17). The fish was served in a basil butter broth faint of basil, surrounded with red bliss potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes and roasted red peppers. All were bright with flavor, but the spinach was raw and a clump of minced garlic that needed to be mixed into the broth sat on the sidelines. Fortunately discovered before spoon-fed.
That being said, there is much to like on the menu with its range of vegetables, preparations and commitment to “clean food.”
The staff hustles to move chunks of fresh-from-the-oven focaccia bread and seasoned olive oil to your table, serve hot dishes as quickly as your order comes up and clear the tables between each course.
It is clear from the crowds that Five Loaves Cafe has found its own miracle. That the gospel of “five loaves and two fish” still resonates at the table. From one good idea, many can be fed.