Friends, family preview Kings Street Food's old-school bounty

Tuesday night, Kings Street Food gave St. Pete a taste of what to expect by the end of October.

click to enlarge Bold graphic lettering dresses up the indoor-outdoor restaurant's walls. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
Bold graphic lettering dresses up the indoor-outdoor restaurant's walls.

The roughly 2,900-square-foot space was packed before 8 p.m. Servers, hoisting trays of samples above their heads, barely had room to wiggle their way to the outdoor courtyard, and in the middle of the dining room, groups mingled shoulder-to-shoulder between guests who scored seats inside.

This was Kings Street Food Counter Tuesday evening, when the downtown St. Pete restaurant opened its doors to an invitation-only friends-and-family gathering. Owner Stephen Schrutt, who's also the brains behind the Avenue eat/drink and a new not-yet-named barbecue spot, could be seen mingling with the crowd, as chef Ryan Kelly headed the kitchen.

Schrutt calls Kings, slated to launch at 937 Central Ave. by the end of the month, a "new-age diner." The preview event gave folks a taste of the restaurant's bill of jazzed-up throwback cuisine: the Muenster Melt (Muenster, white Cheddar, ham, beer mustard) and Pear-fect (gorgonzola, caramelized onions, pear, bacon) grilled cheeses, El Jefé poutine (crinkle-cut fries, fire-roasted tomatoes, roasted jalapeños, queso blanco) and Escobar hot dog (hard-boiled egg, coleslaw, bacon, fries, "street sauce") were on hand, to name a few dishes.

Combined, the menu boasts grilled cheese and dogs done up 26 ways, but fresh-chopped salads with house-made dressings, five breakfast-all-day items (look for the French toast churro), milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and sides like local beer chili are listed as well. For drinks, there's canned or draft beer, bottled sodas and wines by the glass.

Guests on the patio outside, who took advantage of the bar, seating and live music, got a peek of the mural created by Vitale Brothers. It features a crown-wearing cartoon hot dog holding a beer stein, which seems to fit Kings' laid-back vibe just fine.

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