I came to know about Five40 Kitchen and Social House a few weeks ago. The menu sounded hip and interesting even though it had only a handful of vegetarian options. The website is minimalist in design. (Some would call it ‘sparse’). And the chef Bhavesh Patel is of Indian origin. Plus, best of all, it is very close to where I live.
Made plans to go with others but none materialized. Finally, I decided to brave the horrible lunchtime traffic on Barrett Parkway and go to 540 Tapas all by myself for a weekday afternoon meal. That plan finally came to fruition today.
I had contacted the chef earlier to let him know that I wished to write about 540 Tapas on this blog. So he knew beforehand that I’d be coming. When I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by Dipesh, the bartender (I guess). I told him that I didn’t drink alcohol and asked if they had any non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. They didn’t have any but he offered to make one for me. I asked if he could include ginger and mint. Soon enough, a slim glass appeared on my table.
Fizzy and light, my special drink featured sharp ginger ale and fresh mint leaves and a bunch of ice cubes. It was tangy and spicy, hitting all the right notes on a dull day. I hardly ever order drinks at a restaurant (not even the non-alcoholic kind), preferring to stick to a glass of regular water, so this was a new experience for me.
On to the food…
I would have liked to order the Orchietta (short rib, butternut squash, truffle butter, mushrooms), sans the short rib. However, I was told that that the sauce is meat-based. Ahh, well… sounds like a delicious combination! The soup of the day was a cold tomato gazpacho. Didn’t feel like the right day for a cold soup, hmmm. Finally, I asked for a Kale salad with lemongrass honey, star anise and orange and an Heirloom Tomato Salad with basil oil, basil seeds, smoked tomato and mozzarella.
The Kale salad is a nice, medium-sized bowl of finely shredded kale and orange slices, laced with a sweet-tangy vinaigrette and garnished with almond slivers. I wonder if the sweetness of the vinaigrette owed itself to the lemongrass honey. A tad too tart for my taste, I thought. But the kale had a great crispness to it. Wasn’t tough, wasn’t soggy, wasn’t inordinately leafy. I couldn’t detect any anise flavors in the salad, though.
Adored the Heirloom Tomato Salad wholeheartedly. Smoked tomatoes have a slightly charred taste that is almost indiscernible. The salad featured regular mozzarella but I wonder if buffalo mozzarella would have been a better choice. Mixed greens, a dash of pesto (would have liked more of it) and a little pile of rehydrated basil seeds (gelee) completed the pretty picture.
Halfway through the meal, the chef sauntered by. Chef Bhavesh Patel has lived in London, Miami and Atlanta. I asked if he visited India often. Hardly, he said. His family is based in Gujarat, India. I suppose, as a food blogger, I should have asked him about culinary training, inspiration, etc. Well, we had a regular conversation where I asked him none of those chef-blogger questions. By the way, Chef Patel bears a close resemblance to this young Bollywood hero right down to the smile…
I asked him if the little pile of basil seeds is what goes as “takmaria” in India. Without batting an eyelid, he responded, “Yes.” The guy may not have visited India but he sure knows Indian food. I was suitably impressed. Not many people, Indian or otherwise, are necessarily familiar with these little chia-like seeds (also known as “subza”) that flavor cooling summer drinks and desserts in India and other parts of Asia.
Couldn’t pass up dessert, could I? I opted for an strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich. A nice generous portion that I wasn’t intending to finish… but I did. A perfect sweet ending to a good meal.
The bill amounted to roughly $29. Not cheap by any standards, I think. I had a Scoutmob coupon that shaved $10 off the bill. Aah, well.
Hoping that Chef Patel will take my feedback and incorporate more vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu!
Five40 Kitchen and Social House
840 Ernest W Barrett Parkway NW, Suite 540
Kennesaw GA 30144