Monday, May 2, 2016

Kings Street Food Counter, St. Petersburg, FL

Open for less than six months, I have a serious crush on this Central Avenue newbie. First of all, it’s so adorably kitschy with its mint-toned 1950s diner theme that you might get a cavity even BEFORE you get to the decadent milkshake menu – but let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse.

The interior so well captures the of a look and feel of classic soda fountain that one almost expects a Lucy and Ethel sighting, but the menu’s modern twist on comfort classics quickly reminds you that it is, indeed, 2016. With a dozen or so local craft beers on tap, a short selection of house wines and $3 mimosas (which are clear enough to read the menu through…just the way mommy likes them), plenty of non-alcoholic beverages are also available including local MADE Coffee Company coffee, freshly brewed teas and classically bottled sodas.

Getting down to business, all day breakfast offerings intrigue - like Sweet Chick (crispy fried chicken with honey-jalapeño marmalade and funnel fries) and French Toast Churros, which will make you quickly disavow every other French toast stick you’ve ever eaten. The hand-cut slabs of sourdough are saturated in custard, deep fried, rolled in cinnamon sugar and presented hot and crispy.
The holy grail for grilled cheese lovers, Kings’ patrons have a Sophie’s choice decision to make. What will it be? The Pear-Fect combines caramelized onions, oozing gorgonzola, sweet pear slices and bacon, pressed inside of buttery, shatteringly crunchy slices of thick sourdough bread which is delivered fresh daily from DF Bakery in Orlando. A house favorite, the Muenster Melt couples Muenster and white cheddar cheeses with ham and beer mustard. Purists will find their nirvana in the Triple Cheese – aged Vermont cheddar and chipotle smoked Gouda sandwiched between the same exceptionally fine bread with a Parmesan crusted exterior. My top rec, however, is a healthy alternative – the Blue Pig. Aged Vermont cheddar and peppered bacon are married with blueberry jam bursting with juicy orbs of whole fruit and, if I’m not mistaken, blueberries are liberally packed with antioxidants. I also think I read somewhere that there’s calcium in cheese. Rationalize it however you must…but you want one of these and you can't wrong with any of them.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love a good hot dog and there’s a tantalizing variety to be had here. Because of its “Frito Pie” inspiration, Southerners will truly appreciate the fat, all-beef Chili Cheese Dog with meaty, house made beer chili (which is also offered as a side dish), shredded cheddar, chopped onion and corn chips all piled atop a pillowy bun.  It was SO good and its sidecar macaroni salad was off the chain.  Creamy and not soupy in the least, the pasta elbows were lightly dressed and studded with bacon bits and gorgonzola crumbles – definitely not your granny’s macaroni salad.

A short selection of poutines are also on the menu, none of which were sampled on any of my three visits. There’s a traditional version with beef gravy and cheese curds, along with a few riffs like the ‘Merica (which features crinkle-cut fries loaded with beer chili, cheese, sour cream and bacon) and the El Jefé topped with fire roasted tomatoes, roasted jalapenos and queso blanco.

Sandwiches and hot dogs, almost all of which are priced at $10 or less, are served on aluminum trays with plastic cutlery. One side dish comes with each, and diners may select from tangy tomato bisque, beer chili, fries, or macaroni salad. 

As difficult as it was to shoehorn down another morsel after my recent lunches at Kings Street Food Counter, I took one (or two) for the team in the interest of journalistic research. The $5 hand-spun milkshakes are delightful and come in creative flavors like Whopper, strawberry shortcake and Mean Mocha. Ice cream is not my Kryptonite and seldom tempts me, but I couldn’t stop slurping my peanut butter shake with Cap’n Crunch cereal crumbles until the glass was empty. Not as sweet as I was expecting. Boasting a rather adult flavor, the vanilla ice cream was nicely balanced by the saltiness of the peanut butter.

Cronuts are simply ridiculous. Imagine deep-fried croissant donuts lavished in chocolate ganache and showered with bacon bits if you can. It’s like deep-fried butter topped with pork fat. And chocolate. I recommend dipping them into your peanut butter milkshake. These absolutely must be tried, but be forewarned…there’s no sadder sight than an empty cronut tray, so you might have to place a second order.
Kings is an all-around good time that pleases all generations, palates and wallet thicknesses. Fun deals are featured during the week like buy one, get one half off grilled cheeses on Mondays and hot dogs on Tuesdays. New menu items are currently being rolled out which include a cheese steak sandwich, quesadillas and a diner burger. Outdoor ping-pong is available in the beer garden and movies (as well as local sporting events) are projected onto the wall of an adjacent building after dark.

Kings Street Food Counter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great place to grab lunch and dessert. Thanks for the tip.