In my quest for obscure, off-the-strip locations, along comes a recommendation from a former colleague to try out a no-name place by the name of Wine 5 Café. He described it as a Kenyan/American fusion restaurant, and claimed an amazing burger and ‘transcendent’ chili fries. It’s a bit far from where I make my rounds these days, but a recent commitment brought me towards the north-west part of town and I finally made my visit. Was it as good as he claimed?
Wine 5 is located in a crummy strip mall in not the best looking parking lot, but don’t let the exterior fool you as it almost did us: the restaurant is clean and quaintly decorated. There are a number of 4 top tables in the middle, and a few booths to the side that are decorated like they’re on someone’s front porch. The rest of the walls around the restaurant look like the front facades of small houses as well, almost like a mini version of some themed casino you’d find on the strip, but more tolerable. The menu has some great sounding items, it looks a bit heavy on the breakfast items but there seems to be lots of good choices. I’ll have to come back to try some of the Kenyan-influenced dishes, as I was there on this day to try one of their ‘flat burgers’.
And flat this wasn’t; my Jetpack burger came out and this thing was absolutely huge. Topped with avocado, grilled sweet onions, spicy butter pickles, lettuce and tomato, this thing was stacked to the top of my knife it was presented with. The bun was crispy and flakey on the outside, yet soft and gooey on the inside. The meat had good flavor, although maybe not the best quality ever; it wasn’t the best beef flavor, but more like your standard pre-made patty. The onions had amazing sweet flavor and were the star of the burger. The pickles were more like flavored cucumbers but totally delicious and something I need to emulate at home. The avocado disappeared in the burger but was a good touch when I came across it in a few bites. The tomato was slightly grilled but still hard and fresh; it seemed almost uncooked despite the grill marks, but was quite good. This burger was not at all what I had been anticipating based on the location or menu description, but ended up being a fantastic surprise.
The fries came out very late as I believe they were forgotten at first, but were extremely good as well. They were thicker like steak fries, coated with a combo of celery salt and other seasonings. Like most steak fries a majority were crunchy and cooked well as I like, with a few soggy ones mixed in. A side of fries is definitely enough for two, as they are served in a very large bowl.
My girlfriend had the Exception, which is a red wine and spiced braised burger, with cheddar cheese, grilled tomato slices, onions and lettuce. It had very similar flavoring to mine; the additional treatment to the patty made for some nice complexity to the flavor, but I felt it was missing my excellent pickles. Even though it is a bit out of the way from us, I can’t wait to go back and try a few more of their selections, and I’m very curious to see what they do with their smoked bacon. Their burgers range from $7.95-8.95, with the fries at $2.95 for a heaping serving, all very worth it. We didn’t get to try the chili fries during this visit either, but you can bet I’ll be back soon to try those as well.