Get the upscale diner feel at Five Bites

(Photos: Zeid Odeh/Jordan News)
While trying to get away from the notorious midday traffic in Amman, I came across Five Bites. With a few hours to spare, I decided to check it out.

Five Bites is located in the Rabieh area and is surrounded by numerous restaurants that spread to the lower levels of buildings. I immediately noticed the diner-like feel achieved by the leather benches, steel elements, and wooden tables as I walked in.

The menu has a bit of everything: burgers, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, main courses, salads, and desserts.

I was a little surprised to see these various types of food items listed on the same menu; I felt like the identity of the place was a little lost. I assume it is trying to get the biggest possible reward from the customer assortment in the area, a large part of which are students from nearby schools. So rather than losing customers because one person would rather have pizza over burgers, the whole group can be satisfied at a single location.

However, even if this idea sounds smart in the pursuit of increasing profit, it might backfire when it comes to the quality of products being served. Instead of each item being excellent, they become just other offerings there to please customers.

Serving pizza by itself is a distinctive concept; creating the signature dough recipe, sauce, and toppings requires time, equipment, and daily effort. Yet it was not one of the items suggested by the server.

On the bright side, there was a lunch special including a salad, pasta or a burger, and a drink for a discounted price. I ended up ordering the Texas burger in toasted brioche, lasagna, fried chicken salad, and grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.

The burger came first, and I was glad about my choice of toasted brioche; its sweetness elevated the dish entirely. The burger was layered with onion rings and BBQ sauce. The meat was on the well-done side, making it slightly dry, which is not my preference — I personally enjoy burgers to be juicy and a little messy.

The dressing was nicely coated on the salad, and the homemade fried chicken was flavorful, crispy, and cooked just right. The coating crunch of the chicken was done well and did not fall apart, even after cutting.

The lasagna could definitely serve two people: the portion was huge and stuffed with ingredients. The tomato sauce and ground beef were both nicely seasoned. The bechamel sauce was creamy and not overly thick — a common issue with lasagna. The whole dish was gratinated beautifully.

The grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables was, overall, not on the same level as the other dishes. Even with nice grill marks, the chicken was overcooked. The mashed potatoes tasted good, but I wanted them to be a little lighter, which could have been achieved by whipping the potatoes before adding the milk or butter. And the roasted vegetables were not adding much value to the plate and lacked seasoning.

It is quite ironic that this dish was recommended to me as a healthy choice because the chicken was grilled, but the butter in the generous portion of mashed potatoes was definitely missing from the calorie count.

Five Bites’ plates are good value for money, especially since the location often brings students on tighter budgets and the fact that neighboring competition has cheaper lunch options.

I do hope Five Bites takes a look at surrounding restaurants and discerns what different menu items it can provide. Perhaps then it can start creating more signature items that are not found close by, making it well known for specific foods rather than being deemed the place that serves everything.

Overall, something about the ambiance and menu offerings does not align — it might be because the interior is a little more upscale than the food being served. The menu should probably be neater design-wise — with simpler colors and fewer pictures — so that it does not reflect the vibe of a fast-food restaurant.

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