Royal welcome

Déjà vu all over again, to quote one of history’s deep thinkers.

Kings, the brand-new wine bar launched by two sisters in the Kingfield stretch of Southwest, feels like it’s been around the neighborhood forever. And — quoting another illustrious savant, Martha — that’s a good thing.

Sidewalk tables, lit by an autumn moon, were crammed with revelers. Inside, gaggles of eight had settled in for the night, claiming pairs of round tables facing the well-dressed wine wall, and, commanding the ’50s salon in the rear, clots of ardent DINKS and yuppies kept declaring “Definitely!” to validate one another’s messianic agendas.

In other words, we fit right in. I inhaled the fruity nose of an Argentinean Malbec (most attractively priced at $18 a bottle, $6 by the glass) as we studied the short, sweet food list.

Among the small bites (served, most graciously, until midnight), the standout was a cushiony, still-warm goat-cheese fritter, an easy-to-love pillow of ultra-creamy, subtly tart and supremely mellow goat cheese topped with a sweet-savory scallion relish. Um, could we have another order, please?

The short ribs — the most expensive item on the menu at $15 — proved generous enough for two of us, despite the fact that a member of our party can pack away enough to fuel a football team. The meat was slow-cooked until it shed every last iota of resistance, ultimately offering up a deep, rich, beefy flavor, abetted by the succulent cooking liquor that morphed into a savory red-wine demiglace. There’s plenty of it to moisten the snowy mound of mashed potatoes and crunchy spears of asparagus attending the dish: comfort food to the max. So was my friend’s order of mac and cheese.

Draining my Malbec — chosen from a lovely list of up-and-comers from all continents at very fair prices (but, for a wine bar, too few choices by the glass) — we flipped to the dessert listing: blueberry cobbler or cookies and cream? “Cookies. Definitely,” opined the adjacent table.

Or maybe not. The chocolate chippers proved dry and institutional both in taste and demeanor, and the promised chocolate sauce was absent. However, the whipped cream on which the pair of cooking rested, potent with espresso flavor, proved every bit as good as it sounded.

Service was sweet and accommodating, another sign that Kings is destined for a full house for many nights to come.

Kings Wine Bar
4555 Grand Ave. S.