Dish of the Week: For Five’s quirky and innovative take on overnight oats

Media Credit: Lily Speredelozzi I Staff Photographer

I enjoyed the dish’s wide-ranging flavor profile as the seemingly traditional strawberry jam summoned hints of anise and fennel, giving the palate recess from a lineup of sweet ingredients.

Earlier this year, For Five Coffee’s Pennsylvania Avenue location opened just two blocks from its L Street cafe to the delight of lethargic GW attendees, who now must only walk a few feet off campus to get to the newest spot, which now boasts status as a GWorld vendor.

For Five’s menu is eclectic albeit rather expensive for a traditional coffee shop, though their delectable integration of salty and sweet flavors within daytime staples – like the 24-hour overnight oats covered by sundry toppings – allows for a well-justified splurge. The new spot on Pennsylvania Avenue serves as a gift for students looking to study somewhere more inviting than Gelman Library’s suffocating cubicles, elevated by the cafe’s natural lighting and raised ceilings which harbor the potential to alleviate momentary stress.

Although the shop’s wickered outdoor seating is limited and tucked beside a brazen Bank of America building, the interior offers a handful of scattered, sleek black tables accompanied by ample benches and chairs to provide a remote workspace utopia for passersby. The register sits by the entryway, separate from this seating area – customers must descend a small flight of stairs to reach the dine-in section of the establishment. Soft pop songs gently drift from the speakers as the day’s hours pass by – a relief for those who have been victimized by abrasive music in alleged “work-friendly” cafes.

The cafe offers a breakfast menu available from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. alongside an overlapping lunch menu between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The establishment retains fame amongst steadfast customers for its halloumi-stuffed Manhasset breakfast sandwich ($16.95) and loaded salmon sriracha toast ($21.95) – a bastardized take on a traditional lox bagel. Served iced or hot and deliciously bitter, the cafe’s coffee drinks preserve consistency and tradition – simple espressos ($3.75), cappuccinos ($4.75) and lattes ($5.25) are readily available for sleep-deprived customers in need of caffeine.

Despite the normalcy of For Five’s drink menu, the chain bears a nuanced selection of cookies pictured vividly on a sidewalk sign outside the Pennsylvania Avenue location. The variation of possible flavor options ($5.50 each) – funfetti, s’mores, red velvet, strawberry cream and more – excite even the most reserved adults, drawn in by their placement under a warm-toned light at the front counter of the store.

The coffee shop boasts an extensive breakfast menu, but the 24-hour oatmeal caught my eye as something not traditionally served in a cafe. For Five serves prepackaged overnight oats in addition to a restaurant-curated bowl ($14.95) for those who choose to dine in – epitomizing true health among its alternatively indulgent menu items. The oats, soaked in a cinnamon and vanilla-infused pool of nondairy milk, sustain their chewy texture while melting on the tongue.

The 24-hour oatmeal is labeled as vegetarian as well as gluten and dairy free, but the hodgepodge of toppings includes an array of nuts and seeds to the dismay of those who may suffer from allergies. A heaping spoonful of silky cashew butter sits atop an array of tart berries, flax seeds, chia seeds and sugar-dusted walnuts smothered with natural honey.

I enjoyed the dish’s wide-ranging flavor profile as the seemingly traditional strawberry jam summoned hints of anise and fennel, giving the palate recess from a lineup of sweet ingredients. Though coffee shop overnight oats tend to retain a grainy texture, letting customers down after hasty quick-grab purchases, For Five’s interpretation of the essential breakfast dish is reliably hearty, rich and meticulously composed.

All in all, I appreciated the quirky take on overnight oatmeal and departed the contemporary cafe fueled by its nutrient-dense contents. Each ingredient, like the toasty sugar-caked nuts and fluffy cashew butter, evidently received special attention, culminating in a dish that feels made with love.

Everyone must find time to visit this coffee shop – whether it’s for a simple espresso drink or an American-sized portion of multifaceted cafe fare.

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