Shrimp Al Ajillo ($12)
A common dish done uncommonly well. Garlicky shrimp are seared to a perfect tender crunch with a rich smoky broth of chili and wine. Sopping it up with toasted bread was a highlight of the meal.
Blood Orange Cilantro Margarita ($12)
Like all of the cocktails on the menu, this one is almost sickly sweet. As our bartender said when he delivered a bourbon-based drink to the table, "trust me, you won't even know it's whiskey!" That's not a good thing in our book. My advice: grab a pre-dinner cocktail at 67 Orange Street up the street, and order wine from 5 & Diamond's very reasonable list instead.
Mac 'N Cheese ($8)
I'm not generally one to fall for an overhyped mac & cheese, but in this case the gruyère-based, breadcrumb-topped, ultra-creamy casserole merits the talk. It's available in standard ($8) and truffle-scented ($14) versions Tuesday through Sunday, but come by on Monday and you get Mac 'N Cheese Mania: crab, bacon, or their excellent short ribs can be added to the mix for an extra buck or two.
Seared Scallops ($14)
The scallops themselves are about as well-cooked as you could hope for. Sweet, nutty brown, with a just-warmed through center. They come in a decent, if over-salted parmesan and mushroom broth. The roasted fennel and bacon tortellini are a nice idea, but pasta is not the kitchen's strong point—it's mushy and chewy.
Sautéed Sweet Corn and Wild Mushrooms ($6)
Sides at 5 & Diamond are both generous and tasty. A near entrée-sized portion of sauteed mushrooms comes tossed with tender, sweet corn kernels and a pinch of fresh thyme.
Grilled Scottish Salmon ($26)
I live next to a 24-hour fish fry shop, but I didn't think I'd live to see the day when a piece of properly medium-rare salmon would be served in Harlem. The fish is fresh, tender, and moist enough to excuse the shortcomings of the accompaniments: an overly sticky chive risotto and an odd slaw of jicama and mango that is neither crunchy nor complementary. A side of grilled asparagus would be both tastier and more seasonally appropriate.
5 and Diamond Burger ($13)
The best dish of the evening was another return to well-executed classics. The 5 and Diamond Burger ($13) is a seriously juicy, beefy piece of meat with a nice, fatty chew and a hint of sweetness reinforced by oven-roasted tomatoes served on top. You don't need (or even want) to add ketchup to this one, and their skinny fries rival the best of the style.
Parmesan Quinoa ($6)
The quinoa gets mixed with a healthy dose of parmesan, coming out with the texture of a sticky risotto, but far lighter on the palate. It's an interesting take on one of the hot ingredients of the moment.
Sticky Toffee Pudding ($8)
Though it may have been due to the state of their oven, the sticky toffee pudding we had was completely skippable, coming off more as dry toffee-flavored cake. They claim their doughnuts are "famous," which is usually a good sign to steer clear, but I'll have to try them on a future trip nonetheless. And I will be back.