Restaurant review: King Avenue Five
The scarlet sweatshirt brigade was looking nervous.
Even though they were perched over righteous nachos whipped up at one of the hippest sports bars in town - and even though it was barely past noon on a workday -the Brutus crew began to curse and turn to alcohol as a scrappy (but ultimately doomed) Northwestern team pushed the Buckeyes into overtime.
When the Buds had settled and the Bucks had won their first-round B1G tournament game, it was high fives all around - even, or maybe especially, among previous strangers. Man, don't you love March Madness?
During this high-pitched time of year, there's lots of jump-shot palaces where you can communally soak up the hoops, hooch and sporty food, but King 5 is a slam dunk. Shadily lit and with an often packed, big rectangular bar, this large, semi-industrial indie is more rock 'n' roll than your basic wings, burgers and sports-tubed joints. And King 5's food is several cuts above, too.
I'll start with the Nachos ($7) - and so should you. They're a titanically piled-high mound of warm, thin and crispy, house-fried tortilla chips covered in an avalanche of all the expected garnishes (homemade salsa, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, etc.), plus nice chili if you want it (you do, it's only $1 more) and a blanket of broiled cheese.
Wings also fly high. You can go with the more-bang-for-your-buck boneless option (half pound for $5 - that's a lot of battered clumps) or get your gnawing on with the standard models (six for $4.75). Either way, I recommend the housemade spicy garlic and the fiery hot (vinegary buffalo studded with black peppercorns) sauces.
For more peppercorn fun, opt for the Pepper Burger ($8). That bad boy arrived with a thick cracked black pepper crust that delivered quite a spicy bite. Also under the decent glossy bun was a slice of pepper jack cheese.
Not a place to shy away from the spicy heat, King 5 also offers an appropriately titled Troublemaker Burger ($8.75). It came Cajun-dusted and armed with fiery hot wing sauce, jalapenos, chili plus cheddar and American cheeses -good stuff (note: these burger styles can also be had with a grilled chicken breast in place of the good beef patty).
King 5 does a solid job on its crispy toasted panini too. One of my faves is the Adobe Chicken ($8.75) with homemade salsa, onion straws, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese.
If you're not in the mood for a sandwich, try King 5's huge slab of homemade Meatloaf ($9). It's juicy, herby, and has a nice crust and pleasant flavors from onion, green pepper and ketchup. Plus it comes with real mashers and not-bad, baconed-up green beans - though I wasn't a fan of the beef bouillon-tasting gravy.
Another worthy entree is the Freshly Battered Fish 'n' Chips ($11). It's a huge plate filled with two long, thin and crispy planks of lightly battered whitefish. The clean-tasting, relatively ungreasy protein was paired with seasoned and battered wedge fries (aka Jo Jo potatoes) and a nice, oniony and vinegary slaw.
But whatever you get at the fun King 5 will be pretty damn good. And it'll taste even better as the Buckeyes continue to battle their way through a pretty mean-looking East Region on their glorious way to the Final Four. Knock on wood.
King Avenue Five
945 King Ave., Grandview