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