Kings Wine Bar in Kingfield, Minneapolis

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kingfield and its nearby environs are groaning under an embarrassment of sophisticated eateries these days. Already hopping with the likes of Cafe Ena, Corner Table, Blackbird, and Heidi’s, the addition this month of Kings Wine Bar brings an almost over-the-top energy to a gastronomic mosh pit.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kings has thrown its doors open across the street from the daring Cafe Ena, a locational choice that may help turn the intersection of 46th and Grand into a destination for those out to eat something provocative.

The restaurant sports the same kind of dark-wood, clean-line, low-key IKEA-chic as The Sample Room, which makes sense — Peter Maccaroni, former executive chef of that Northeast mainstay, is the chef at Kings, which is owned by sisters Molly Barnes and Samantha Loesch.

Much of the same creativity that made The Sample Room crackle is on display at Kings — as new as it is, it pulls off the trick of having a menu that’s both brief but intriguingly diverse. The wine and beer lists are a good place to start — both are geographically and stylistically eclectic. Taking beer as an example: The presence under one roof of Avery, Lagunitas, Unibroue, Lift Bridge, Summit, and PBR indicates a playful yet sophisticated mastermind.

The Kings version of good ol’ tater tots ($6, pictured above) is as novel as anything to pop up… well, maybe anywhere over the past few years. Each tater tot seems to be assembled from a spool of insanely thin little spaghetti strands of potato, delicately coiled and stacked into the familiar stubby column shape.

The exterior of each is convincingly crisp, and the interior is tender and essentially raw — but delicate and warm. With an accompanying gruyere / bacon sauce (or a tangy house-made ketchup), these things are a revelation on a plate.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kings serves remarkably finely tuned food for such a new restaurant. A salmon filet ($14) boasted a pleasantly crunchy exterior and a tender, clean-tasting interior; it was paired with a sweet shallot relish that brought out the lighter side of the fish. A bed of orzo added too much salt to the overall party, but its creamy texture contribution was quite welcome.

A fried green tomato BLT ($7) was similar: A great package, well-executed, and one tweak shy of perfect. Its Rustica bread was too crunchy and robust for the interior, but the fillings were ravishingly good — thick-cut bacon, lightly fried and pleasingly tart tomatoes, and an assertive, well-balanced aioli hooked up to form a great summertime team.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

A dessert of bananas Foster seemed both underwhelming (it’s just bananas and a caramel sauce!) and overwhelming (that’s a lot of caramel sauce!) at once. And yet, the execution of the dish won the day — the sugar shock factor wasn’t overpowering, and there was a deeply spiced side to the bananas that granted the dessert a welcome depth. Within moments, the bowl was empty.

If Kings stays on an even keel — or even punches things up by a step or two — its name will ring out far beyond its not-so-humble spot on the gastronomic map.

BEST BET: The tater tots are really a can’t-miss dish; familiar, yet completely new, comforting, yet kind of incredibly thrilling at the same time.

Kings Wine Bar

Continental Casual in Kingfield
4555 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
612.354.7928
OWNERS / CHEF: Molly Barnes and Samantha Loesch / Peter Maccaroni
HOURS:
Mon-Sat from 8am-Midnight
Sun 8am-10pm
Brunch: Sat-Sun 8am-2pm
BAR: Beer, Wine, and Sake
ENTREE RANGE: $7-14
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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26 Comments

  1. Jason Walker 08/24/2009 Reply

    Almost went there last night and wish we had. Damn. They better get Surly though.

  2. Ya Know..this was a nice review. You really know good food but… you really don’t know Kingfield or should I say “Kingsfield”. By the way Heide’s is not in “Kingsfield”. Do your your research and get it right. I dined their and the food is great. Good for you on having good taste.

  3. Author

    Chris, you are of course correct — we regret the error. For your information, however, you really don’t know Heidi’s — you spelled it with an “e” on the end.

  4. Tangletown 08/25/2009 Reply

    Rather shocked at the $13 Mac & Cheese. I’m all for paying for small portions of well done quality food but that’s a little steep for side sized dish of starch. Unless the cheese is from a golden calf they need to add something or lower the price…especially in this economy. Rather strange that a filet of Salmon could be 2 dollars more?
    I felt a little gypped w/the strawberry “cobbler” too. It was just strawberries in syrup with a couple tiny pieces of granola. Call it something else….or explain that you’re joking.

    I did love the Tator Tots and the French Onion soup was good too. I really hope they do well. I will go back…just think they need a little tweeking.

  5. andrew 08/25/2009 Reply

    I have dine at King’s twice since it has opened. The food was fantastic, you must try the gazpacheo, very fresh and finishes with a wonderful spice. The tater tots, are not to miss. I was very impressed with the well selected wine list, very affordable. Do not leave out the welcoming staff, all very personable and knowledgeable. King’s is a wonderful neighbor to have!

  6. Charly 08/25/2009 Reply

    I have dined at Kings twice and I enjoyed my experience. However, the prices are a bit high (see above comment about $13 mac and cheese). Also, I’m not sure I’d really qualify it as a wine bar. They had no chilled wine ready and the servers (both times, with different servers) didn’t know wine. Also, they are getting their wine from only one distributor, which means the list is limited and lacks a true wine bar well-roundedness. I recommend warming the interior and varying the wine list. Also, be sure to train staff in wine if you want to be known as a wine destination.

  7. snowhite 08/25/2009 Reply

    Have been there twice now, first for wine (and yes, it wasn’t chilled — the bartender didn’t know it was supposed to be, although they fixed it pronto with a major ice bath) and another time for drinks and dessert. Love the vibe, but agree that the staff needs some training.
    As desserts go, they had run out of bananas foster and ice cream. Only had blueberry cobbler and housemade chocolate chip cookies w/espresso cream & chocolate sauce remaining. We went for the “housemade cookies”. Waited almost half an hour, although again, like the hangout so didn’t care too much. Except they were overwhelmingly disappointing. Seemed like stale store-bought. At least expected them to be warm after such a long wait — and there was no chocolate sauce. An apologetic server, but she didn’t really know what to do…
    Note to King’s: Get some good chocolate chip cookies!! (see Gigi’s Cafe or Sweet Martha’s) — and serve more than 2!!! Maybe a bunch of little ones… We’ll still be back soon though.
    As for what to call the ‘hood — just call it all SW Mpls, and call it a day.

  8. Chive Blossom 08/25/2009 Reply

    I was at Kings for wine and bite to eat on several occasions. The service was sad and lacked knowledge and enthusiasm. We could smell cigarette smoke wafting by as servers and hostess passed by table. That is the last thing I want to smell while enjoying food and wine. Our server was even seen smoking outside while we waited for food. I concur with the above post for a wine bar they lack range and knowledge. The unprofessional staff needs serious help they want to be known as a so called destination restaurant.
    We heard the tater tots were worth the trip and when they arrived the outside was a crunchy golden brown and the inside was a dreary looking grey. The bacon cheese sauce was pleasantly rich and creamy. We ate the sauce with our bread instead of the tots. The French onion soup broth was delicious but the bread was heavy. The gazpacho was more like salsa than soup.
    Then chicken meatball with Marsala sauce was utterly boring. The sauce was thin, it seemed to lack love and attention.
    We also tried the salmon which seemed to be steamed, it lacked a nice crust and was beyond well done. Asparagus accompanied the fish. For a restaurant that claims to be local and seasonal I don’t know why they would have a wonderful spring veggie like asparagus on three different dishes. Not to mention it is very difficult to pair with wine…some wine bar. When we asked the server what farm[s] the meat and vegetables came from we were met with a blank stare.
    I just hope they get there ducks in a row. I might give them a whirl again in a few months after they work out their many kinks.

  9. I went there last night. We dined outside, which was ok, but for the uncomfortable and cheap furniture. The service was TERRIBLE! They did not have any sparkling water or even soda water – this took us 20+ minutes to find out from the server. We were coursed out, which is fine, but not when it 35 minutes between appetizer and salad/soup, and then another 20 minutes for main course. The server seemed a bit flustered when we wanted to order. Then when asked for a new set of silverware it never came. I think these South Mpls neighborhood joints need to realize that, yes, you will probably get slammed on a Tuesday night, so staff accordingly.

    The food was good, not great. It wasn’t enough to make me want to go back. If I’m going to go to any South Minneapolis restaurant featuring a former chef of The Sample Room, it’s going to be Citizen hands down.

  10. I dined at Kings on Saturday night, and highly enjoyed the atmosphere of the whole place. I thought the prices were extremely reasonable for the quality of the food being served, and as for the comment above about the mac and cheese, I believe it does come from a golden calf. I personally had the macaroni and cheese, and that’s no velveeta darling. Nothing on the menu is priced above $15, which is incredible, especially considering that it’s all prepared fresh, handmade and mostly organic. The chef himself informed me of such, and he was very pleased to oblige.

    As for the wait service, I noticed a few kinks. But having been to a handful of restaurant openings, I would have to say that Kings is doing pretty well. Although I know it’s hard for some to let down their guard and enjoy themselves occasionally– and nowadays everyone’s a critic– I found myself relaxed and at home at Kings. Bravo on the *start* of a successful restaurant.

    oh and if you want to make a valid respectable point, I suggest using correct grammar.

  11. Tangletown 08/28/2009 Reply

    I never said it tasted like Velveeta. I thought it was very good, but if you’re going to charge that much at least do some creative writing on the menu or maybe the server could tell me more than “it’s good”. Lucky you for getting chef service, maybe you are of close relation?

    BTW… Velveeta should have a capital “V” grammar police.

  12. I ate at Kings on Friday and I have to say the food was stellar. The service was terrible. I am assuming that this is due to the fact they are new. My wife and I went with three friends. I ordered the Asparagus, and the Meatballs. They were awesome. The asparagus had a fresh crunch and the meatballs while the sauce was a little runny it was great. My wife and ordered the salmon. The fish was cooked perfectly and the shallots on top really did it for me. My friends all ordered sandwiches. They looked very tempting. We all ate food and all had wine when the check was divided up it was about $30 per couple. For the service. We just had very little attention. Basically our server was simply waiting for the tip. I will go back but a message to kings get better servers. As for all of the nay sayers on this site relax and ease up on a new restaurant.

  13. I ate a Kings on Friday and the food at kings was amazing. I ate the meatballs and mississippi greens as a starter and I felt semi-full and ready to go on to the main course. I enjoyed the low lighting and the music, which was soft and palatable. THe host was welcoming and asked us to choose our own table and the server was funny and sociable with out being over bearing. He made a few suggestions and we could not have agreed more. The only thing I would say which was negative was that we sat to near the toilet and saw a full view of everyones business. Fix the toilets and keep the at home vibe.
    Next time I want to try out the short ribs and the cheese plate.

  14. Hey! My mom owns this place, and I just wanted to say thanks for all the comments. If you liked it, I’m glad, and if you didn’t, sorry! I’ll be sure to tell my mom about all the kinks you pointed out, and we appreciate the feedback.

    PS, we’ve put a curtain in front of the bathrooms. I totally advised my mom against the doors months before the place opened!

  15. Jessie 09/11/2009 Reply

    First of all, my boyfriend and I do not fall into the “everyone’s a critic” category. Tonight was the first time in a very long time that I can say I was VERY disappointed in a restaurant experience. Knowing that the chef is from the Sample Room and it’s so close to home, we were very excited to try out King’s. It sounds like some of you had a decent meal, but our small bites were lacking and the sandwiches were horrible. The bread was incredibly tough and the food lacked flavor. We were not fans of our tiny plastic table and the atmosphere felt cold and industrial. When our server asked us how our food was, we were honest, and the chef later came to speak with us. That was much appreciated, but we still won’t be going back. Very disappointed – we had hoped for so much more.

  16. After eating at King twice know I will be going back. I have not tried all of the dishes but the short ribs, onion soup & Tots seem like real winners to me. Price is fair too.
    & bam! More free bread w/out the asking? Where do you see that these days? Reminded me of the 90’s again!

  17. Catherine 09/23/2009 Reply

    My family and I have been there a few times – my son – who thinks it is cool that his name is all over the menu (he shares the chef’s name) LOVES the mac-n-cheese. We have enjoyed the salmon (our favorite), tomato and pesto sandwich, and ribs. We ended up all splitting a banana split and walked home. It is wonderful to have a place close to us to walk to – makes for a fun family activity.

  18. Unique… wonderful, friendly. First feelings walking into Kings. Wonderful wine and great service. Warmth all around. I had a slight cold the night I went to Kings and had a salad and french onion soup. It was fantastic! As was my wine. I loved the salad as well combined with strawberries and all the extras. My husband liked his pesto flavored sandwich and yes the bread was solid and hearty. This helped us enjoy our meal and we spent more time talking and enjoying each others company. I can’t wait to go back. My kids really want to go go brunch at Kings in the next week or two as well. We plan to enjoy the great service and food at Kings for a long time. Keep up the great work in food and service and thanks! I’m a terrible speller so attack as you will but you won’t stop me from loving Kings!

  19. Oh I forgot about the fantastic home made ketchup and fries my husband won’t go back to fake ketchup any more! Thanks Kings!

  20. NancyQ 09/24/2009 Reply

    I’ve been to King’s 3 times now, and I give them a high rating while they work out the kinks of being new. The owners are friendly and the bartenders are fun. Now for the hopefully constructive criticism. The tater tots (that everyone RAVES about) were terrible. They were burnt on the outside (dark brown, mouth-cuttingly overdone) and cold inside. I’m sure we got the end of a basket re-fried, but I think they should know to toss those and start a new basket. They’ll work out the portion control in time.

    Secondly, the wine list is not that of a “wine bar”. Their affordable selections are not a good quality:value ratio, and their better quality wines are priced beyond what they should be. A Riesling for $12/glass? No thank you. On two occasions my party wanted a glass of an after-dinner dessert wine, well, they only have one option. Our server suggested a BOTTLE of port for the 2 of us on the first occasion, and again on the second. In my many years I have NEVER seen, nor heard of anyone ordering an entire bottle of port to finish a meal, unless they were a large party.

    Beyond that, I think it is a charming space, and it will grow into a fabulous addition to the neighborhood. My advice is to diversify the wine list with more value (seek out respected wholesalers), train that staff on the wines, get more after-dinner options, and throw away the burnt tots! Kingfield will continue to support you!

  21. My wife and I ate there with our two daughters (ages 4 years and 22 months) on an early Sunday eve back in September and had a great time. The server was very, very attuned to the needs of parents dining with kids and asked the always-welcome question right off the bat: “Can I get something started for the little ones?” The service was lighting-fast. Our girls loved their food, especially the spaghetti with chicken meatballs. My wife enjoyed the salmon and I loved my spareribs. Epicures we ain’t, but it was such a pleasure to be able to enjoy, rather than endure (“Where the heck is our server?), a meal out with our kids. Many of the family-friendly places leave a lot to be desired on the food side, and those that boast more delectable fare are not, understandably so, havens for little diners. For us, Kings offers the best of two worlds. We will definitely be back!

  22. Recently got carry-out, and while the food was absolutely fantastic on all counts (the winter BLT, mac & cheese, roasted beet app, and tots), the service was terrible. I was not greeted as I came in, and when I made my way to the bar, was curtly directed to the opposite end to collect my carry-out, where I was subsequently ignored by 5-6 staff members hovering in the immediate area. Most seemed to be just chatting amongst themselves, or just… standing there, despite the fact that I was standing next to a to-go bag, with my cash in hand, catching everyone’s eye who went by and waiting for someone to help me. The place was busy, but seemingly manageably so for the number of staff at hand (and for how little they seemed to be tending to their seated clientele).

    I suspect in total, I waited a good 5-10 minutes before my presence was ever acknowledged and the bartender who had originally pointed me to the spot eventually came by to help, without so much as a “sorry for the wait.” And even then, I had to ask if the bag on the counter was mine, and if it was ready to go. As such, my mac and cheese was cold by the time I got it hope, even though it didn’t have far to travel home (though still tasty).

    Again, every single thing we ate was tremendously good… perfectly cooked and seasoned, with delightful twists on old favourites. But honestly, the experience with the service left such a bad taste in my mouth that it will likely be some time before I’m willing to give them another shot.

  23. BjørnVincent 01/06/2010 Reply

    I recently moved to the King Field neighborhood and am excited to explore the restaurants and shops that are in and nearby the area. I look forward to trying out Kings Bar in King Field…neither Kingfield NOR Kingsfield… haha I find it funny that people sometimes feel the need to correct others when it doesn’t really matter…and even funnier when they correct someone wrong. Yes, I’m talking to you “Chris” mr. ‘do your research and get it right even though I obviously don’t heed my own advice.

  24. BjørnVincent 01/06/2010 Reply

    I recently moved to the King Field neighborhood and am excited to explore the restaurants and shops that are in and nearby the area. I look forward to trying out Kings Bar in King Field…neither Kingfield NOR Kingsfield… haha I find it funny that people sometimes feel the need to correct others when it doesn’t really matter…and even funnier when they correct someone wrong. Yes, I’m talking to you “Chris” mr. ‘do your research and get it right even though I obviously don’t heed my own advice”

  25. Why is it the few times I walked over to simply get coffee it was either closed (at 10:30 am even though the hours say 8am), the door was open. Anyway, the service is terrible there, it makes me feel like I should know what to do when I walk in to a new place. Not welcoming at all. It feels like walking into a bar on Venus.
    Hopefully the figure it out.

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