It is all about the au jus – The Fifth Quarter

The Fifth Quarter – Charleston, WV

Susan says…

The Fifth Quarter was my grandparents’ “special occasion” restaurant while I was growing up.  All the biggest events were celebrated here with a juicy prime rib served with the little cup of yummy meat juice (yes, I know that’s not the proper name, it’s au jus…let me have some fun) all served on a stainless steel plate.  I still love prime rib and I still think the cups of meat juice should be much, much bigger.  I slosh my bite of meat in the juice and try to sop up as much as possible before stuffing it in my mouth, trying not to drip too badly on the table and my clothing.  yum!

60 - item salad bar

This is a great place to come if you are on a low-carb diet: you can get meat and veggies.  If you choose to pay the additional $2.49, you can enjoy all you want from the attractive salad bar.  I did not choose to pay the salad bar upcharge since I did not want to make my meal any more over $10 than absolutely necessary.

Right off, the cilantro chicken caught my attention because I love the flavor of cilantro.  I was envisioning a breast of chicken with a  bright green cilantro sauce smothering the top of the meat.  I ordered broccoli as my side and a Casear salad.  I would receive all these components for $8.99.  Not terribly expensive, but I made a fatal error when I ordered the diet soda which cost me $2.25 – yikes!  The inside of the restaurant is a…

We interrupt this restaurant review to bring you a message from our reviewer about soda prices in restaurants: THEY ARE GETTING RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!  I am seriously going to stop ordering sodas for lunch.  The soda prices are rarely printed in the menu (props to Sohos for admitting upfront that they will rip you off on drinks) and most places now are charging at least $1.50.  I am through participating in this travesty.  I vow that beginning August 1, 2008 I will no longer order Diet Coke (or that other inferior brand especially) if the price is over $1.50 (with free refills, of course).  I will ask the server what the price is.  If it is above $1.50, I will ask for a glass of water OR I will bring my own soda to the restaurant.  Why not?  I am already taking pictures of all my food, how much more embarrassing can it be to pull a Diet Coke out of my purse at the same time?  Daniel can attest to my adherance to the new policy.

Back to our regularly scheduled review already in progress.

…felt like we had been waiting forever.  Daniel blamed it on the party arriving in two waves, but I think it was just that our server wasn’t being attentive enough, plain and simple.  I think he was playing hide & seek, which is exactly what I advised him NOT to do in my rant on lunch hour practices.  Anyway, I finally got to put my order in for that chicken.

cilantro chicken

The Caesar salad was pretty large and had a nice, tangy dressing – not creamy, though.  The croutons joined the salad too long ago and had become soft.  Eeeewww.  I picked them off.  I had barely finished the salad when the meals came to the table.  I was instantly disappointed in the appearance of my dish.  The chicken and broccoli looked delicious, but it came with a ramekin of what mysteriously resembled: salsa.  I dumped it out onto the plate and began picking through it with my fork, searching for the cilantro.  I managed to identify three tiny specks of cilantro….not even close to the bright green, cilantro-rich sauce I had imagined I would receive.  Oh well, I must persevere.  I combined bites of broccoli with bites of chicken and the salsa (c’mon, let’s call it what it really is…it’s NOT a cilantro sauce, it’s ordinary salsa that happens to include cilantro near the end of the ingredient list).  But you know, it was a delicious, tangy, healthful meal.  I really enjoyed it.

I just had to sample a small slice of the yummy brown bread served up on the mini cutting board.  i slathered butter all over it, too.  It was fantastic.

If it hadn’t been for the slow service at first, the overall expensive nature of the lunch menu, and the raping of my wallet with the outrageous soda price, this would have been a completely enjoyable meal.  If….


Dan says…
Disclaimer – I have an old coworker who is a manager, but I will pull no punches.

When people suggest the Fifth Quarter I groan and when my boss’ boss suggested it for our loosely organized monthly investment club aka The Redneck Investment Club I said, “Sounds great.”  She is a great boss, I know she has read this blog and I don’t care if she finds out that I think this place is sub par.  For those would don’t know, the Fifth Quarter is a fancy….Shoney’s.  That’s right!  The big salad bar in the middle screams Shoney’s.  It was owned by Shoney’s until they closed the chain about eight years ago and this location was allowed to keep the name. During a flight home for the holidays while I was in college, I sat next to the president of Lee’s Famous Recipe (owned by Shoney’s) and he gave me several free meals to Fifth Quarter.  It was good then, but so was Steak and Ale. Another fine establishment closed prior to the health revolution of Emeril and Paula Dean.

This restaurant still smells of cigarette smoke, especially the room they seat you in if you are having a group party. The fixtures, tables, chair and decor are all tired and boring. The only thing keeping this place afloat seems to be the fact that conferences at the Civic Center only give people a hour for lunch and all the other sit down restaurants in the mall (less the Chop House) are at the other end.

Prime Rib Burger

Prime Rib Burger - $7.50

The food is ok. I ordered the prime rib sandwich and steak for $7.95.  It is a round french dip.  The au jus was like beef liquor in which you could take your sandwich for a swim.  The prime rib was served well – a mortal sin.  It was put on a sesame seed bun.  I didn’t order a Big Mac or a Whopper. The steak fries were some frozen preseasoned potatoes that came to the table luke warm.

If you want a good beef sandwich you need to drive about 431 miles to Olean, NY and order a Beef on Wick at the Beef and Barrel.  The medium to rare beef will melt in your mouth. At that point you will know in your heart that cows are meant to be food, and vegetarians mean more sandwiches for the rest of us.

Go to the Fifth Quarter only if you are outranked or under court order. Sorry Dave.

Two Forks.

Fifth Quarter Restaurant on Urbanspoon


18 responses to “It is all about the au jus – The Fifth Quarter

  1. I really used to like The Fifth Quarter when it was in its hayday. The filet mignon was great, and the build-it-yourself Caesar salad was always fun. But after years of opening and closing shenanigans, it’s just not what it used to be. At least, they still serve good scotch.

  2. It is hard to screw scotch up! 😉

    Someone could do wonders with that place.

  3. demosthenes.or.locke

    Its such a good location, its really a pity that it sucks so much ass. I remember going there and thinking it was good about 10 years ago. I ate there recently and the place was terrible.

  4. My favorite line in the review was when Daniel said “the Fifth Quarter is a fancy….Shoney’s”. I literally lol.

    and btw, I have kept to my policy and refrained from ordering sodas at lunch that cost more than $1.50.

  5. Susan-I’m with you on your overpriced drink policy. I used to usually drink iced tea when I went to a restaurant, but over the last few years I realized the prices and how rediculous they are, especially if you think about how much a couple of glasses of unsweet tea cost to make-$.02 for a tea bag??? For example, last night at Logan’s in Barboursville (NOT a good dining experience!) my husband ordered sweet tea at $2.25 a glass. He drank two glasses, but it’s still not worth that price. So most of the time I order water.

    About Fifth Quarter… I always remember it being that same type of “special occasion” place, like Steak and Ale, where my parents would go on a night out without the kids. They occasionally took us along too and it was special. Not any more….just average, at best.

  6. The Vegetarian Wife

    “At that point you will know in your heart that cows are meant to be food, and vegetarians mean more sandwiches for the rest of us.”

    Daniel- we need to talk.

  7. No, last time I checked cows are food. Along with chickens, pigs, all types of fish, bambi, yogi, and one of my favs…maaaaaw (lamb)!

  8. I love vegetarians.
    They’re all I eat.

  9. If you would like the real inside scoop of this horrid place please contact me. … (The remainder of this comment was removed by Fork You)

  10. Get a life and understand what the dining process and what being a good customer is all about. Read the book waiter rant. If you complain about price stay at home you are the reason the place “sucks”. Because you’re piss poor atitude brings everyone you come around to the level you’re at.

  11. My husband & I have been going to the 5th Quarter for at least 18 years. We have NEVER been disappointed in either our food or service. My filet mignon is always well done (as i requested), au jus is delicious, my baked potato always tender, salad is the best in town, plus my margarita & his harvey wallbanger is JUST RIGHT!!!!! This is now and has always been our favorite place to dine. Joshua, usually our waiter, is very friendly and efficient. Our only complaint is you cannot smoke in the bar area, but then again, not 5th Quarters fault. There are no children allowed in the bar area and adults should be able to make a choice of smoking or non-smoking areas.

  12. so…. i worked at this place for 2 and a half years and i remember reading this review b/c somebody printed it out and brought it in…. we all passed it around & laughed!! susan and dan you sound like just the type of people we don’t really like to wait on. guess what? servers are people too!! and i have never ever in my history of waiting tables seen a BRIGHT green anything besides guacamole, and drinks are how the resteraunt makes a lot of their money. if you go to a gas station and buy 2 20 oz pops which is about the amount that a lot of people consume during a dining expierence, your looking at about the same price, SWEETIE. you are probably the same type of person who whines and complains about everything and leaves $2. i made GREAT money at that place so apparently we do enough right to make our livings. head to mcdonalds or wendys and spare the servers….. please………

  13. Old Server-

    I re-read this review to see just how nasty I was about the service, and I didn’t think I was nasty at all. It was indeed a slow start and when you are on a lunch HOUR, it’s kinda important that you make it back within that hour. If a restaurant has slow service, it simply means it will get less lunch hour business from peons like me.

    As for the dish itself, I remarked that it was tasty and healthful but featured very little cilantro. If you name a dish with an ingredient, shouldn’t that ingredient be prominent in the finished product? I certainly think so. You wouldn’t be happy ordering jalapeno nachos if the nachos arrived with only two small bits of jalapeno.

    If the only green food you’ve seen is guacamole, you need to get out more! All green veggies should be served bright green. There is also chimichurri sauce, salsa verde, and basil pesto, to name a few.

    As for the drink prices, I realize that’s how restaurants make money, that’s why they are outrageously priced. I don’t buy bottled sodas at a convenience store for the same reason. No siree, it’s good ol’ Wal Mart where I get 6 bottles for $2.50. At Sheetz, you can get a fountain soda for $.99 which is a pretty good deal. I rarely order a soda at a restaurant anymore.

    Oh, and if you think you wouldn’t like me as a customer, then I suppose you wouldn’t like the 30% tip I gave my very prompt, friendly, and professional server at The Barge last night.

  14. Phil I. Stein

    This won’t get as fun as the Tricky Fish skirmish if all we have is an ex-server rather than the owners and chef chiming in with responses.

    Still, I always marvel at people in the service industry who believe the onus is on the customers to think and behave correctly in order to be worthy of spending money at their places.

  15. We, as servers, don’t have anything to do with the prices, and it gets so frustrating hearing customers whine about them!! we are just trying to do our job and make a living, we dont have anything to do with menu items nor the price put on them, or the way the foods cooked, or how long it takes to come out, yet so many times we get the brutal verbal bashing from the customers about all those things!! read waiters rant and maybe you’ll understand…. i am in school and wait tables to take care of myself in the meantime and i wish i could tell you how many times ive taken verbal lashings from customers about things out of my control and couldnt say anything about it. i feel most people dont look at our feelings as people, we are just servers or more like servants!!

  16. old server:

    So pricing, menu choices, etc. are out of your control and you hate it when customers complain about them to you. Yet in your first post you addressed those issues about which Susan and Dan complained. Since those things aren’t in your control (except one: how long it takes to get the food to the table after it’s prepared), you really should just concentrate on doing your job as a server well enough to deserve a good tip.

    I generally leave 20-25% tip if the server is competent, attentive, efficient and pleasant. I don’t need you to try to be my best friend (I hate when servers sit down at the table to take an order) and I don’t need you being overzealous either. Just know the food/menu, make sure my food arrives at my table hot, check back on me every once in a while and keep my glass full.

    And I have a tip for all servers. When you bring the food to the table, give us about 2-3 minutes so we can assess the meal and figure out if there is anything else we need and then check back with us. Don’t just drop the plates and say, “Do you need anything else?” and then disappear for 20 minutes. It may take a couple of minutes to realize I need more butter or salad dressing or a sauce or something that might be missing. By the time you get back, the food is cold or I’ve already eaten it as is and it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

  17. old server-

    Neither Dan nor I gave the server a verbal bashing. I did not complain to him about the soda price. I did not complain to him about the lack of cilantro in the “Cilantro Chicken”. I didn’t even complain when it took too long to take our orders, even though I had to be back at work at a certain time. I don’t do that. If something is clearly the server’s fault, I reflect it in the tip, but I have only left an insulting tip one time. I have to be very, very upset about a situation to say anything.

  18. The Fifth Quarter is just another one of Charleston’s dining establishments that is living on a reputation that it no longer deserves (just like Fazio’s, Chris’, Leonoro’s, and Tidewater). Considering its location and plethora of parking spaces, it could be a real jewel.

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