Kings takes the crown

This S. Mpls. restaurant/wine bar may have created the best tater tots on earth.

by Kara Nesvig

Kings Wine Bar WHERE: 4555 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis ItâÄôs Friday night and Kings, a teeny little enclave housed comfortably within a placid South Minneapolis neighborhood, is packed. The overflowing bar stools and tables full of bodies belie the quiet outside. Patrons dip into glasses of wine from a towering wall of bottles and plunge forks into candlelit entrees. Everyone I can see looks to be having a hell of a time. Sisters Molly Hanson and Samantha Loesch had always entertained the idea of opening a restaurant. âÄúWe wanted a neighborhood hangout âĦ a place that was part of a community, where you can go twice a week and see the same faces,âÄù said Hanson, who previously lived in Seattle running a childrenâÄôs bookstore, among other endeavors. However, she moved back to Minneapolis to help her sister after LoeschâÄôs husband was murdered while on a bike ride two years ago. âÄúWe were both at that place in our lives where we decided to just do it.âÄù The sisters joined forces with local chef Pete Maccaroni, who until recently whipped up dishes at lauded Northeast spot, the Sample Room. He created a menu of accessible dishes that are exciting in their delicate simplicity. At Kings, produce and other ingredients are as local and organic as possible; bacon and pork come from Waseca, while produce is imported from exotic Wisconsin. Their menu is divided into two sections: small bites, like assorted cheeses, prosciutto and fries, and big bites, such as pan-seared Alaskan Halibut. The Kings menu is reasonably priced as it is âÄî nothing will cost you more than $16 âÄî but during their daily happy hour the small bites (try the tater tots, which come with a Gruyère cheese-and-bacon sauce for dipping) come with $3 house wine and beer. As to which wines they offer, Hanson and Loesch consulted their brother, who works in the wine industry. As a result, the wine list at Kings is staggering; just consult that wall of bottles for proof. Most range in price from $18-85, but their selection of âÄúwines by the glassâÄù changes biweekly so you can try something new each time you stop in. Hanson recommended I try the âÄúNew Age,âÄù a sparkling fruity white from Argentina. At $18 a bottle, itâÄôs no splurge when split between two, and for $6 a glass it complemented my sea scallops with a butter pesto sauce perfectly. (Note: I did some investigating and found the wine at SurdykâÄôs for $9.) I can imagine that if Kings were a little closer to my âÄòhood, IâÄôd be pulling up a chair to the bar quite frequently. IâÄôd like to acquire that âÄúKings glowâÄù for my own.