Kith & Kin

It’s finally here, the long-awaited premier “Eat” post.  The honored restaurant is Kith & Kin, near DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.  It’s been around for about a year, to glowing reviews, and often is referred to as one of the many new “gastropubs” — but it seemed more like your typical fairly high-end restaurant to me.  Perhaps, if the reasoning in this story about the replacement of their head chef is to be believed, that’s a recent evolution.  I can’t say, as this was my first visit. 

My friend and I sat at a two-top right next to the fireplace, which, according to the “About Us” page on their website is a highly coveted table.  Interesting, as we certainly didn’t request it. The room was nice, but nothing particularly special.

In any event, like most gastropubs, they did have what I would refer to as very small plates (due to most of these being verboten as the result of my pregnancy, as they were spreads such as paté, we skipped these) and small plates.  But they also certainly had full-sized dinners. My friend and I split one of the “small plates” — in quotes because the mussels we shared were themselves huge and because the portion size was ample, even for two. It was also delicious — you could really taste the broth (gewurztraminer, fennel and herbsaint) in each mussel, and the bread was perfect for soaking up the remaining broth.  My only complaint about this dish is that a good three or four shells were tightly closed and should not have been served.  Another two or three were barely open, but I was able to easily get them open and they tasted and smelled fine.

My friend ordered the grouper, which came with a deconstructed gribiche sauce … melted leeks (YUM) and dill, with a poached egg on top, all meant to be mixed together.  I tasted the fish, and it was fabulous.  Perfectly cooked, flaky, buttery … exactly the kind of thing I usually order, but this time, did not.  I instead agonized between buttermilk fried chicken thighs (a house specialty) and the house-made tagliatelle with braised rabbit.  I went with the rabbit, as that’s harder to find on most menus.  Our server also informed us that the chicken is always on the Kith & Kin menu, and would be available during another visit.  I think I made a somewhat unwise choice.  There was nothing at all wrong with the dish.  The pasta was tasty, the rabbit was well-cooked, and there was a generous amount of it — but it was really nothing special.  This didn’t sour my experience of the restaurant at all; it’s just that I think, for my own personal taste, I could have ordered better.

We split a dark chocolate mousse dessert, which was quite light and delicious, but not distinguishable in any meaningful way from a similar mousse at any other restaurant in this price category.  I should note that I highly approved of their cocktail list, even though I was unable to meaningfully partake.  My friend’s French 75 was really good (I stole a sip), although served on the rocks.  When I make this at home, I serve it up, in a champagne flute, which I believe is traditional.

Overall, I think you can’t miss with Kith & Kin — it wasn’t the most amazing meal I’ve ever had, but it was quite good, reasonably priced for the quality, and the service was excellent.  Leave time for parking — they do not valet, which is an unfortunate oversight for a Lincoln Park restaurant smack-dab in the middle of a zoned residential area.

A note about the pictures.  Yes, I am aware that they are not really what you might call good.  I am still working with the iPhone 4, which can take excellent pictures if you have enough time to take them carefully and try various settings.  I was a little self-conscious about taking pictures at the restaurant, both because I felt conspicuous doing so, and because I certainly didn’t want to let the food get cold while I fussed about taking pictures.  When I am cooking, I am often similarly in a hurry, and rarely have another set of hands to help out.  In any event, I am aware of the shortcoming and am trying to work on it.

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