7/5/12 Update: According to WoodTV, the restaurant is closed as of today.
Located on the corner of Ottawa and Fulton, this restaurant took the place of the defunct Margarita Grill, and opened in November of 2009. The space is huge and is divided into a bar and a dining room. The light and airy bar area has tall tables and chairs surrounding the 3-sided bar. TVs are prominently featured above the bar with sports channels running. We were greeted by a friendly bartender who welcomed us, told us to sit where we would like, and someone would serve us.
A few steps down brought us to the dining room. We took one of the five tables by the windows and were backed by three curved booths and a dividing wall. Beyond the wall are a few more booths and tables, a small bar, and an unobstructed view of a wood-fired stove. TVs are also present here; wherever you sit you will have a view of a TV, most of which are playing soap operas - really. There was mellow music being piped in, a little loud but not enough to interfere with conversation. The entire place has a modern, clean look, while still featuring exposed brick, wooden floors, and huge, ancient wooden ceiling and support beams. One wall contains nothing but a small collection of mirrors; other artwork is minimal and contemporary. Small plates and cloth napkins are on the tables, and the whole effect is stylish and inviting.
Interestingly, we sat about 10 minutes before a server appeared, and the place was not busy. No one was in the bar and there were only two other booths occupied in the dining room (at 1:00 pm). After the initial delay, he was much more attentive as our meal progressed but was still a poor server. He was a soft-talker and so completely diffident, it was hard to get any information, much less even hear him.
But to the menu - very interesting with many unusual and unique offerings. We started with one of the “sharables”: duck spring rolls (hand-made rolls, roasted duckling, hoisin/ginger sauce delicately drizzled, and pineapple soy sauce for dipping). It was a lovely presentation, and delicious. The rolls were a little too crispy on the ends but provided nice texture. The duck could actually have been chicken for all we knew, as the other flavors somewhat overwhelmed it.
For our main entrees, we were very tempted by “The Fancy Stuff”, eight distinctive entrees (particularly the Lobster Macaroni, $22.00) but the prices drove us to the more suitable sandwich/lunch selections. Grilled steak on wonderful asiago ciabatta, served with roasted red peppers, red onion confit, and ancho mayo was misleadingly called steak sliders (sorry, I always think White Castle). This sandwich was a savory combination of flavors and a great sandwich; accompanying pita chips and salsa were also great quality.
The el cubano was a unique Cuban in that no ham was involved. Instead, thinly-sliced porkloin was served on ciabatta, with mustard, bacon (ok, there’s the “ham”), swiss cheese, and mojo sauce. Another excellent choice. The chosen accompaniment was curly fries for a small upcharge.
Playing on its address, 25 Kitchen + Bar took its name, and offers 25 world pizzas (again, so unique, e.g., Tuscan pizza: red grapes, Fontana, Gorgonzola, black pepper), 25 signature drinks, and 25 draft beers. The menu does not include any of the beer, wine, or drink selections so price range and selection was unknown but they are available online. Along with the 25 pizzas, there are ten sandwiches ($7-11), five salads ($10-12), sixteen sharables ($6-12), and eight entrees ($15-25). We left with a $40.00 tab, including tip.