We went to Five Leaves at the worst possible time: weekend brunch. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d have to wait forever for a table. But the weather was nice, so we figured we could walk around the area while we waited, something that wouldn’t be possible during the winter. But luck was on our side, and during peak hours, we waited less than 10 minutes for a table! And we even got to sit outside, in the shade, at one of the handful of outdoor tables.
Five Leaves is much loved and has stood the test of time, having thrived for nearly a decade. Many people don’t know the backstory. It’s the brain child of an Australian couple who had the great fortune of randomly meeting Heath Ledger. They shared their idea with him during a long chat and ended up partnering with him to open it up. Very sadly, Heath Ledger passed away before the restaurant opened, but his family remained committed to the project and Five Leaves opened in 2008. Few people even know of the affiliation, so Five Leaves certainly never intended to use celebrity as a way to lure people in. Instead, Five Leaves actually earned its success by serving good quality, tasty food in a casual, cozy atmosphere that makes people want to come back for more.
The restaurant is open from early morning to late night, seven days a week. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks, and everything in between. Five Leaves is most famous for its brunch – in particular, the ricotta pancakes that you’ll see at least one person from every other table order. So, naturally, we did too. Yay for group-think! We balanced it out with another, polar opposite dish: the heritage grain bowl.
Ricotta Pancakes – served with a full banana sliced in two and lots of strawberries with honeycomb butter and 100% pure maple syrup. The pancakes are unlike most you’ll have. Thick, dense but fluffy, super unsweet, and just delicious. Probably the second best pancakes in the city (after Foragers). Even if you’re the (rare) type of person who usually requests maple syrup on the side because you don’t like things too sweet and think pancakes are sweet enough on their own, you’ll likely find yourself using the maple syrup on this stack. It’s that unsweet, but totally right. Apparently everyone orders these for a reason, and you should too. And you get a really great amount of fruit with it – I mean, a whole banana, guys!
Heritage Grain Bowl – farro, barley, and quinoa with watermelon radish, charred baby squash, crispy kale, salsa verde, and a poached egg. This is a solid dish, but doesn’t really hold a candle to the pancakes. I realize they are completely different, so it’s a bit unfair to compare the two, but this dish is just good and that’s that. Great as a lighter option, pretty healthy (though still well oiled from the salsa verde and the roasted veggies). I wasn’t crazy about the sour/pickled flavor, most likely coming from the radish, but others seem to enjoy it just fine. Poached eggs were cooked to perfection, better than most. Overall a safe choice, but not worth pursuing like the pancakes above.
If you pick right, this could be one of the best brunch experiences of your life. Otherwise, it could be just good. If you’re a pancake person, you should seek this out. Otherwise, just go if you’re in the area. Regardless, you shouldn’t have any regrets.