Cuisines collide at Wine 5 Cafe
Wed, Apr 4, 2012 (6:44 p.m.)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Wine 5 Cafe is somewhat confusing. I mean, I’m not confused about whether or not I like the restaurant—I unequivocally do. Rather, I’m bewildered by exactly what kind of restaurant it is. The name itself is somewhat of a misnomer, as it’s not much of a wine bar. Wine 5 Cafe is an amalgamation of American and Kenyan fare, although the Kenyan cuisine is somewhat hidden in the bush amongst the American dishes.
American highlights include the Tenaya Club ($9.25)—a turkey club with cranberry chipotle mayo—and a chilled chicken salad po boy ($8.75)—as light a chicken salad as you’ll find. These are actually really good; however, the real story here is the Kenyan influence.
In my mind, the best way to experience the menu is by immersing yourself in the Nairobi Feast. Be forewarned to order in advance or prepare for a wait—it takes a bit to prepare the copious amounts of forthcoming food.
- Wine 5 Cafe
- 3250 N. Tenaya Ave., Suite 110, 462-9463.
- Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Pricing begins at $43 for two, which includes a meat choice and two traditional sides. I suggest either the chicken curry or nyama choma (steak) as your protein—our pork was a bit dry, while the shrimp are good but not exemplary.
Sides include hearty sukuma wiki (collard greens), lightly battered potato logs, chapati (unleavened flatbread akin to a tortilla) and ugali (the Kenyan equivalent of grits), and the most remarkable option, the samosas. These traditional pastries highlight Indian influence on Kenyan cuisine, and stuffed with spiced ground beef and sukuma wiki, they’re as good as any I’ve ever had. Sadly, they’re available only as part of the Feast, though I suspect if you ask nicely they’ll prepare some, as the service is overly accommodating.
Interestingly, the proteins are also available as entrees throughout the regular menu. The traditional nyama and ugali ($18.75) offers grilled steak alongside the grits, which are relatively bland by themselves but tasty mixed with the accompanying spinach. The Taste of Nairobi ($16) pairs yellow curry containing a whole chicken leg with chapati, the perfect vehicle for sopping up the curry, which is mild enough to convey spiciness without wreaking havoc on your palate.
Wine 5 Cafe fills an interesting niche with its range of American dishes alongside Kenyan specialties. Together they make for an attractive proposal, well worth hunting for.