Restaurant Review - Five Sisters Cafe

Cheap thrills

Remember last week when I complained about the lack of atmospheric cafes in Atlanta? Shoot me. Then pay a visit to Five Sisters Cafe (2743 Lavista Road, Decatur, 404-636-6060). I'd be there with my laptop every day if it weren't so far from my home.

The name of the cafe does not refer to a collective of mythological Furies or Muses, but to a literal group of five sisters with a wonderful eye for color and talent for hospitality. Though located in yet another strip shopping center, Five Sisters announces itself with a purple, shaded terrace full of plants. Inside, red and green walls are hung with paintings and photos. The ceiling is festooned with colored glass orbs. Candelabra drip colored streams of wax. You eat at a pub table or curl up on the sofa. There's a cozy bar dispensing teas and coffee drinks.

I feel I should confess that my nephew Carlton does the cooking here on the weekends. Trained in my brother's restaurant on St. Simon's, he's a college student and future rock star. Actually, "cooking" is not exactly the right word for what he's doing at Five Sisters, since the menu is almost entirely salads and sandwiches, owing to a very limited kitchen. That is to say, there is no stove.

Nevertheless, there is one soup and an entree special on the weekends — a good onion soup and pasta with roasted red pepper sauce the evening of my visit with my friend Tommy Brown.

Sandwiches range from roasted eggplant with goat cheese and smoked salmon with horseradish-creme fraîche and capers to crab salad on foccacia and roasted turkey. Salads feature the same broad range of ingredients. Dessert can be an unfortunately dry "very moist carrot cake" or a (much better and moister) fudge chocolate layer cake. There's also pound cake and banana nut bread. Carlton probably does not know that his grandmother, my mother, went through periods when she baked more pound cakes than Sara Lee.

Coffee, from Batdorf & Bronson roasters, is excellent and cheap. A great hang-out.