As part of our continuing “tent” tour of dining outdoors since the restrictions have been eased, we went to Wiki's Wine Dive & Grill.
On neither visit did we actually dine in the tent, however, as it was a weekday, and they have that convenient, more inviting patio that lured us away. In both the bar and the dining room, they were serving customers at appropriately spaced distances, but I wasn’t quite sure if the governor had let that fly. We chose to be safe outdoors.
When we were seated, my companion thought it would be great to get a table near the propane-fueled fire table, which is pretty cool, but we had not realized that that was where customers seemed to take smoke breaks, which is perfectly legal for outdoor dining spaces. One man seated nearby on one night was quietly enjoying a solitary cigar. She was motivated to move to the cleaner air at the opposite end of the patio.
When we last wrote about Wiki's two years ago, we praised the kitchen for its renewed innovation and energy as well as an emphasis on great ingredients combined in unique presentations, and the menu still bears that creative verve. Not a lot of new options except for a garlic cheese bread ($11, or $9.95 at happy hour) that we enjoyed on one visit. In the past we’ve raved about that sourdough loaf that appears to be made in house (or at least by a skilled baker), which they used to slice and bake with garlic butter. This newer version, which debuted in August, has a cream cheese/herb/onion mixture inside and some grated cheese crusted on the top, evidence of jack and Parmesan was evident.
We can definitely recommend both this and the carnitas tacos ($7) from the “small bites” menu, a place we like to visit during their happy hour, which has quite extensive hours (all day Sunday and Monday, 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close Tuesday-Thursday, 3-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday). During these happy hours, their respectable house wines can be had for as low as $3 a glass (appetizers are discounted $2). We are also fans of the breaded-on-the-premises chicken fingers, which are on the bar food list.
On another dinner visit, we skipped all the great things we’ve enjoyed in the past and I went for the Parmesan-crusted brisket sandwich ($15) while my companion selected the chicken Michael entrée ($17). Both were exceptional.
Let’s start with the chicken, a skinless grilled breast marinated in rosemary, which is always a match made in heaven. I loved that the poultry was still moist, not overcooked, and the flavor subtle, and the red wine reduction was the perfection crowning touch with arugula salad that had a sweet jack vinaigrette dressing. Rounding out the plate was a wild mushroom risotto. I’m not sure how many calories it had, but it tasted healthy without cheating you on flavor.
I’ve had so many good beef sandwiches and entrees here in the past, so the quality of the brisket did not surprise me. It wasn’t as smoky as, say, the meat at Salty’s or Angry Barnyard, but it was tender, and the thick bread grilled with the crunchy Parmesan on the outside did go far to elevate it. There was a chipotle aioli that I got on the side to make sure it wouldn’t overwhelm the beef. With or without it, it was good. The garnish was simple: iceberg lettuce, a bit of onion and tomato slices as well as pepper jack cheese.
The menu has been tweaked since our last column on the place — a few things like quinoa tacos and a Kobe burger look new — but much of what we’ve enjoyed in the past is still there: the New York strip steak sandwich with the great French roll and grilled onions ($17.50), the meatloaf sandwich with the spicy ketchup ($16), the lamb lollipops ($19), the kale salad with pulled roasted chicken ($16), the slow-roasted herb chicken entrée (a value at $15), the Napa pizza with roasted garlic ($15) and the very different mahi piccata ($19.50) with a citrus cream sauce.
Service from Ashley and Lauren was pleasant and quite inviting, even though both seemed to be handling a lot of customers. Though the weekday crowd wasn’t enough to get that parking lot tent open, there was a steady crowd, all servers wore masks and based on those waiting outside I’m sure distancing was happening indoors and out.
The virus has not slowed this place down. Wiki's Wine Dive & Grill can be recommended for a fine dining experience.