As my photographer, Le-Anne, and I approached the ivy-covered brick building known by all as Number 5, we whispered to one another in excitement. This was the big boss of all Binghamton restaurants participating in the biannual Restaurant Week, raved about by both students and residents for its steaks and seafood. At the start of every semester, the buzz around Number 5 and its fancy menu is ever present, and as we passed through its signature revolving door, we transformed from broke college students into sophisticated adults.
Number 5, formerly known as Fire Station Number 5, was built in 1897 and served the South Side of Binghamton for 75 years. Although the local and state landmark had previously housed horses used to pull fire wagons, owner Jim McCoy has transformed the space into an elaborate two-tier eatery complete with posters, candles and wood furniture. At $35, the establishment offers a classy three-course meal for a reasonable price. Le-Ann and I were seated on the second floor, surrounded by warm, ambient light. Ornate shelves full of books in various colors and sizes lined the upper half of the walls. The staff was kind and welcoming — our waiter, Mike, made sure to check in on us throughout our meal.
For starters, I ordered the Greek stuffed mushrooms, while Le-Ann had the baby scallops. The restaurant served us warm bread with strawberry butter while we waited for our orders. The bread was lightly toasted, crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, and the butter had the surprising freshness of strawberries. My stuffed mushrooms had a nice herby flavor, with the tanginess of the cheese and the zing of grilled lemon adding a nice brightness to the fattiness of the sauce. Le-Ann was satisfied with her appetizer, noting that the cranberries were a nice acidic counter to the scallops’ buttery flavor.
“[The scallops] are soft and fluffy,” she said. “Gordon [Ramsay] would approve.”
For the main course, Le-Ann and I both ordered the obvious choice of steak. She chose the petite Greek tenderloin with broccoli, while I opted for the prime sirloin with mashed potatoes as my side, and the meal did not disappoint. The caramelized onions on my dish were sweet, pairing nicely with the rich and salty blue cheese sauce. The meat was super flavorful and tender, with a nice crust on the surface. Le-Ann agreed, commenting on the tenderness of the meat and the Greek sauce, which elevated the dish.
We finished off our lavish night with the “Chocolate Decadence” and blueberry zucchini cake for dessert. The “Chocolate Decadence” lived up to its hype, resembling something between a chocolate mousse and fudge. Although it was extremely rich, the slice was the perfect size, satisfying my sweet tooth but leaving me wanting more. Despite my expectation that the dessert would be warm, the coldness actually made it lighter. I got a coffee to go with dessert, which wrapped up the meal nicely and balanced the sweet flavor.
Overall, Number 5 surprised me with its posh menu and luxurious ambiance. I could definitely see why it attracts regulars and is so widely loved by the Binghamton community. If you want to treat yourself this Restaurant Week, Number 5 is the place to do it. You won’t leave without feeling like you have reached peak classiness.