With the Brooklyn backlash heating up, it’s high time to celebrate (or denigrate) a chic Manhattan bistro. With its happening after-work scene, high ceilings, and huge, swooping bouquets dividing the spacious dining room, Five Points seemed the perfect specimen. It’s clearly a souped-up counterpart to its quaint outer-borough brethren, but — just like all the Smith-Court and Park Slope favorites — friendly servers and sidewalk seating help draw a devoted local following. On a warm Monday evening, the skylight-lit back room is occupied by a private party, and the bar is two-people deep.
The spring menu promised a handful of well-matched wines, but they were out of the Spanish Rueda white that my Manhattanite dining companion requested, and what the menu touted as The Best Sangria ($6) was simply mediocre. We forgave this overstatement, though, when we sampled the seafood Fritto Misto ($10). Perfectly batter-fried artichoke hearts and thinly sliced lemons were piled among cod fillets and calimari. We skewered the lemons — tender peels and all — along with the fried fish, wondering why we’d never encountered deep-fried citrus fruit before. Perhaps we got a little too excited about this appetizer because when we ordered beer-battered onion rings ($5) and French fries ($5) as sides, we were punished for our fry-crazy gluttony. The rings were crisp, but the fries were limp, brown, and barely edible.
Our main courses didn’t stand up to the fritto misto, either. The Scallops ($24) that the waitress recommended were served at room temperature in a light-on-flavor green pea puree. The best part of the blisteringly hot and crunchy pan-fried Skate ($21) was the local arugula salad served alongside it — the peppery bite of the greens was complemented by a sweet and creamy dressing. For dessert, a heavy funnel cake ($7) overwhelmed the sadly small amount of tart rhubarb filling within.
Around us, stylish singles sat among silver-haired couples, and we wondered what drew them all in. After all, we’d both been to smaller, humbler, and often cheaper spots — in Brooklyn and Manhattan — where the food was far superior. But maybe the Five Points clientele has another agenda. Returning from the downstairs ladies’ room, my companion ran into a well-dressed woman in a short skirt and stilettos at the bottom of the staircase. “You go first,” she said, sullenly, “I have trouble going up stairs.” We held a moment of silence for this stylish woman and her restaurant of choice — a pair of tragic beauties, crippled by their looks.