District 5 – the new Divisidero Corridor grub spot occupying the space left by now-defunct Metro Kathmandu – is the type of neighborhood restaurant that will remember your name but not what you ordered. I went to the restaurant’s opening last night along with two Lower Haighters and former regulars of MK.
Seeing how the owners took less than two weeks to make the switch from MK to D5, not much has changed. The dcor is essentially identical to its peculiar predecessor: reddish-colored walls don generic artwork (French this time), bulbous nouveau modern light fixtures emit an acid flashback of red, orange, and yellow light, and black table tops cue up to the mirror-backed bar. Your fellow diners live around the corner and hug the owner hello and goodbye. And the service is friendly but spotty on a rare busy night, with long waits to order and receive food, waiters who don’t know much about the food they’re serving aside from the bare-bones description printed on the menu, and the wrong utensils are brought with some of the food.
What’s different is the cuisine. If MK was a Nepalese Sherpa dishing out creamy curries, D5 is a schizophrenic mixed-race orphan serving up burgers and tagine. So, Californian, with some random ethnic flair: an organic beet salad here, a piquillo pepper there, couscous everywhere. Typical of a neighborhood spot, the quality of the food ranges from decent (baby back ribs with coffee cardamom glaze, steamed buffalo dumplings with curry sauce, black cod croquettes) to bland (white bean and spinach soup, chicken tagine) or oversweet (strawberry rhubarb pie).
But that’s ok because D5 isn’t the place where you take your out-of-town guests, it’s the place you settle on when you don’t have reservations, you know what to order (the ribs!), and you really just need a hug.