Get yourself to Kaia Wine Bar and get yourself there soon. First of all, it’s a wine bar so that should be enough for you to say “ok, I’m in.” (Don’t worry, they have beers and a fun cocktail list so it’s not just for wine people.) Secondly, I’m pretty sure it’s the only South African spot in the city so that’s just cool. And, finally, the food menu and service take it above and beyond your standard wine bar.
I don’t remember exactly which wines I tried (they were summery and white), but I can tell you that the servers were knowledgable and great about helping me choose so I enjoyed everything. And they gave generous pours. Happy hour is daily from 4-7, where a sizeable glass will only set you back $8. The happy hour pick of the day is chosen by the restaurant and since it’s a wine bar at heart (vs. a sports bar trying to get rid of their cheap stuff), it’s unlikely you’ll end up with something bad.
Anytime a place is called a wine bar, I imagine the food is snack-y and tasty but also standard. You’re thinking meats and cheeses, right? Maybe a cute meatball? Well here the menu is far more substantial and far more unique. Many people hold off on the bread so they don’t spoil their meal, but that’s not something you should do here. It’s soft, dense, and sweet and comes with oil and dukkah that’s just perfect.
I got two smaller items for my main because I wanted to try more than one thing. First up were the deviled eggs, which were piled high with filling and came with an arugula and peppadew salad that was perfectly dressed. I also got the elk carpacio because I know that South African cuisine is big on sausage and game so I needed to get something in that direction. The homemade mustard accompaniment was perfect and it came with more of that arugla peppadew salad that I enjoyed. Don’t be scared off by the fact that this is elk. It’s not overly gamey and ideal for someone who gets down with a charcuterie platter.
One look at the confident description of the lamb burger (which I must go back and try) and you’ll realize they know what they’re doing here and they’re proud of it: “Ladies and gents – please no substitutions or changes & medium rare only. No one makes this like we do and we would like to keep it that way. A lot of love goes into making this handmade burger.” I’m sure that’s true of the burger, but it also seems to fit the general vibe of the place. At Kaia, don’t worry; they’ve got you.