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Kith and Kin - Kwame Onwuachi Rises from the Ashen Catastrophe of Shaw Bijou - in the Intercontinental Hotel on the Waterfront

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Kwame Onwuachi will be back this fall with his newest restaurant Kith and Kin inside the Intercontinental Hotel at the new waterfront being built in Southwest DC. Anyone have any insider information other than what is in the article?

From dcist.com

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27 minutes ago, magnadoodle said:

Kwame Onwuachi will be back this fall with his newest restaurant Kith and Kin inside the Intercontinental Hotel at the new waterfront being built in Southwest DC. Anyone have any insider information other than what is in the article?

From dcist.com

Interesting that they say: "That all points to Onwuachi learning from his miscalculations at The Shaw Bijou, where the former Top Chef contestant’s high-price $185 tasting menu gained acclaim but ultimately struggled to resonate with city residents."

And then only refer to their own article, while many other professional food critics, snobby forum people (haha, that's us), and the general public did not feel it garnered acclaim. I don't think it wasn't just that it "didn't resonate". It straight up "put off" people.

He's a master showman and promoter. And hopefully the circus works out better for him this time. 

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On 8/25/2017 at 1:20 PM, MsDiPesto said:

More about it in the Post.  He's written a memoir to be published next summer. Seems a bit premature, no?

In all honesty, I didn't remember - and as I write this, I don't remember - his last name.

Yes, it's "a bit premature," but when has that ever stopped people from cashing in before? I wish him well.

Since this restaurant is on the waterfront, I wonder if they'll serve Stella.

WO DEE FO KEE DEES

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Decided to go to the opening of Kith and Kin last night, so we grabbed a reservation for 7:15 PM and turned up around 7:10 PM.  We were checked in promptly but not seated right away, so after standing around for a bit, we decided to sit in the Intercontinental’s lobby.  A couple of other parties apparently had similar issues as the bar area was jam-packed, so they joined us on the sofas outside of the restaurant. 

They finally called us in after 20 minutes of waiting, and we got a table next to the wall of windows that front the space.  There were some snafus with the menus—they gave the good doctor a dessert menu instead of the dinner menu, and we had to ask for a wine list—but then we were left alone.  Our server finally came by, poured us water, and took our orders (a bottle of NZ pinot grigio, the seafood plateau, oxtail stew, and Brussels suya) after 15 minutes or so.  One of the service captains stopped by to apologize for the wait and offered us champagne, but given that we had just ordered a bottle of wine, we demurred.

No photos, but the food we ordered was quite good.  We got complimentary coco bread rolls, which were light and salty, and the seafood plateau showed up quickly.  The grilled octopus, king crab curry, and snapper in pepper broth were particular standouts with strong, balanced flavors.  The oxtail stew was probably our favorite dish of the night, and I wish it had been served with a spoon, because I’d have happily cleaned the bowl.  The Brussels suya took a little while to turn up, but they compared favorably with the ones at Oyamel.  

The F&B director, Gabriel, swung by several times during our meal to see how we were getting on.  He was quite rueful about the initial service failures, but we were understanding about the fact that it was opening night and the kinks were still being worked out.  We did notice that parties who weren’t immediately seated were now being offered flutes of bubbly, so they seemed to be acting promptly on feedback.

We capped off the meal with the chocolate rum cake, which was delicious, if straightforward, and we got complimentary macarons and an additional glass of the pinot grigio when we asked for the bill. Given what we’d ordered, it was a reasonable ~$80 per head with tax and tip.  We’ll be back next week as we have guests staying at the IC, so it will be interesting to compare experiences.

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Was really excited to try this place, so we went for lunch today.  We left mostly disappointed--we really should stop going to restaurants as soon as they open.  The service was iffy as would be expected, but more surprisingly was that the menu they handed us only had about half of the items that were listed on the online menu.  Most notably missing was the Ethiopian spiced fried chicken that i had my eye on.  When I asked the reason for the discrepancy our (seemingly very nervous, but well-intentioned waiter) said he had never heard of such a dish.  When I asked the manager, he said it was because they had to rush to open, so they're limiting the menu for a bit.  Would have been nice to know. 

Anyway, onto the food.  We started with the chicken wings ($12), which came with six tinyyyyy wings (no drumstricks). Small as they were, we all found them to be quite tasty and they came right off the bone.   We also ordered the "meat and cheese board" ($29), which we imagined as the substantial wooden board that one would see at most restaurants.  Instead, it was about 1/3 of the size as you would expect, though it did come in a cool smoke-filled dome that imparted a lot of flavor.  Again, though the portions were small, the cheeses, duck prosciutto, and figs were quite tasty.  Midway through this dish, the kitchen brought us another complimentary order of wings, which was nice of them.  I'm not sure why though--we weren't told a reason. 

For our entrees, I ordered the oxtail, my girlfriend ordered the goat roti, and our friend ordered the burger.  The oxtail was good, though a bit small (notice a theme?).  My taste of the roti was good and flavorful, but both of the other two thoughts it was lacking a certain kick in the curry.  Finally, my friend said the burger was very good but not best-in-town or anything like that.

The atmosphere, by the way, was quite nice.  Great views of the water and well decorated.   I'd likely go back eventually, if only to try that Ethiopian fried chicken.

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as one would expect from donrockwell.com's infamous paid operative on the shaw bijou's payroll, i'll be going for dinner tonight. i'll report back.

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How many millions of dollars did his investors and landlord lose for his prior Restaurant that was only open for a few months?

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 -- thoughts on your meal there?

sure! though Sietsema's First Bite is out, i'm happy to provide my experience.

we swooped in to a lucky cancelled 7PM reservation (changed from our original 10PM), though OpenTable helpfully didn't update Kith & Kin's host stand. thankfully, this wasn't an issue at all - I showed the hostess our OpenTable confirmation for 7PM and we were seated within two minutes. our waiter promptly greeted us, told us a bit about the menu, and left a cocktail list, which he noted was rum-centric. we elected to start with a cocktail -- my wife had what Sietsema had, the Gin & Reggae, a twist on a classic G&T that includes mango and rum. she's a big gin fan, and greatly enjoyed this cocktail, noting it was quite strong. i had the Jost van Dyke, a small but intense cocktail with Bacardi Limón, Velvet Falernum, Aperol, African Rooibos, Lime, Ginger, and Mango Sorbet (the Sorbet takes the place of ice as the chilling agent). it was sweet, but not in a cloying way. it was a perfect start to the dinner, though i'd also think it'd do perfectly with dessert. both cocktails were around $16-17.

our waiter gave the now-familiar DC advice that two to three plates per person was recommended and that everything is designed to be shared. we knew we wanted to share the Seafood Plateau and likely a dessert, so we ordered three additional plates. a collage picture and individual pictures can be found on my Instagram if you'd like to follow along.

to pair with the seafood plateau and beginning courses, i ordered a glass of the 2015 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse ($17), but unfortunately, the wine had not yet arrived at the restaurant. i opted instead for the 2015 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling ($16), and my wife had a glass of 2012 Conundrum ($15). the Seafood Plateau ($39) is one of the dishes here that's going to be talked about a good amount, and with good reason. it isn't the $75+ raw bar tower you may see at Le Diplomate or other DC restaurants - it's a reserved (but not austere) small two-level tower that is perfect for a couple to share. the bottom level was cold food and contained four oysters with habanero, tuna kitfo (a take on Ethiopian steak tartare with berbere spices), and kanpachi ceviche with house spices. the top level had two dishes each of salmon belly, king crab curry, and snapper in a pepper sauce/broth. nothing was less than spectacular. my wife picked the oysters as her favorite, enjoying the combination of the very fresh oyster with the spicy pepper. as an Ethiopian fan and lover of all things berbere AND all things tartare, the kitfo was mine. however, everything was great and we'd happily order the plateau again unchanged.

next came the Mackerel with Jollof Rice and Nigerian Red Sauce ($14....?). i'm a big fan of mackerel and this is no exception. perfectly cooked mackerel melts in your mouth alongside a sauce with a tinge of heat and the incredibly flavorful jollof rice. a dish we were particularly intrigued by that didn't disappoint was the Mushroom Forest ($17), a plate of mushroom spread and charred eggplant dip topped by an array of roasted mushrooms and served with crispy msmen bread (a bread that recently made its appearance at the late Shaw Bijou). this was undoubtedly a highlight of the evening. i feel mushrooms can be incredibly versatile and varied in their tastes and textures and this dish showed that off in spades. 

around this time, a Kin Burger was dropped off at our table. when we explained we didn't order the burger, it was noted as compliments of the house. i'm not sure why or how that happened, but i am incredibly glad it did. we figured that the burger was the 'safe' choice for hotel guests or picky eaters at the table. it doesn't contain much of Chef Kwame's famed African or Caribbean influences -- it's beef, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles, and mayo, with only the jerk-spiced bacon to remind the diner they're at Kith and Kin rather than Le Diplomate or Duke's Grocery. i used those two places as a comparison for a reason. this burger is absolutely fantastic. it may be a bit out of place on the menu here, but if i happened to frequent the Wharf a lot or lived nearby, i'd come for a burger night. 

as we transitioned to heavier fare and our wines got lower, we opted for a glass of red wine. unsurprisingly, the red Burgundy counterpart to the wine that hadn't yet arrived (2015 Louis Latour Marsannay ($17) hadn't arrived either. i end up with a 2014 Overlook Landmark Pinot Noir ($14) and my wife ends up with a 2012 Amador Harazsthy Zinfandel

the finale was the Braised Oxtail Stew ($19?). the oxtails were braised in stock and served on the bone over rice with some carrots. as Sietsema noted, the meat falls off the bone effortlessly, sometimes even by picking the bone up. the meat is incredibly rich and unctuous, so much so that i almost wished there was more rice to balance the decadent meat and sauce. we ended up finishing most of this, but the unexpected burger addition meant we had to call it quits somewhere. the portion is deceptively large for the price, especially given how rich the dish is.

we had heard enough about the Habanero Peppers (Dessert) ($12) that we had to order them. when the waiter brought the habanero peppers on what appeared to be ice, we were dubious. i trusted the hype and Chef Kwame's instagram post with the immense numbers of these bright orange peppers enough to take a bite. it was delicious and super-weird to bite into what appeared to be a habanero pepper and be rewarded with a sweet grapey surprise. the peppers are filled with a paste/mousse that is a mix of grape and Japanese lime. as a bonus, the ice the peppers rest on is elderflower granita -- i'm a big fan of St. Germain and elderflower generally, so it was the perfect pairing to the unexpectedly delicious peppers.

so there we had it. our first re-visit to Chef Kwame's food since our last trip to The Shaw Bijou. undoubtedly a superior price-to-quality ratio. in all honesty, a pretty good PQR -- many of the dishes were bigger than expected, the ingredients were high quality, we were more than full when leaving. the service had a few hiccups -- nothing severe, and given that it's Week One, nothing unforgivable. i did notice upon reading other reviews that we never received our Coco Bread that people speak highly of. given the addition of the burger, i can't be too disappointed about that, and the bread probably would have been the difference between leaving full and leaving wanting to die, but it's still a mistake. i would happily go again -- there were many dishes cut from our order that we want to try -- the Beef Patties, the Brussels Suya, and the Goat Roti, to name three.

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The habanero dessert thing looks fantastic. So pretty. The rest of the stuff doesn't excite me, except for the goat dish in TS article. Glad it's a more humble approach. 

He must be paying you well ;)

(kidding- we all are fan boys of someone ... I'll follow Johnny Monis anywhere)

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Holy shit is parking expensive here ($11 for 1st hr - more expensive than G'town).  I ended up lucking out on free street parking (Sunday).  Knowing the cost and what's there (not much retail), I don't know if I'll ever drive back there. 

So we ordered some Beef Patties, Crispy Chicken Wings, Mushroom Forest, Mom Dukes Peel and Eat Shrimp, and Hot Chicken.

The beef patties contained slightly spicy curried ground beef.  It reminded me more of Asian food than Caribbean.  The kids didn't care for them either.

The wings are indeed crispy.  Our bowl had maybe 11 flats and 1 drumette.  I tried to teach the kids how to eat flats - they didn't find the process rewarding.

Mushroom Forest - I like fun guys and these were okay.  I rather have a good mushroom fricassee.

Shrimp - I heard our server explain to another table that the shrimps were served with an Abita sauce.  I drank enough of Abita to know it's a beer from Louisiana.  These shrimps were okay - not overcooked.  I didn't find the sauce special.

Hot Chicken (fried thigh) - I told them to hold the hot sauce.  It came as a sandwich with waffle fries.  Again, nothing special.

Unfortunately the oxtail stew and the roti weren't available for lunch, otherwise I would've ordered them.

Based on what we ordered, I find this place pretty mediocre.

P.S.  A really great fun guy dish is the mushroom torchon at Kinship.  Apparently some kins are better than others.  "Some girls are bigger than others.
Some girl's mothers are bigger than other girl's mothers."  (The last two sentences are from the Smiths - don't shoot the messenger with a weird sense of humor).

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I don't have time for a longer post, but we had dinner there on Friday night and thought it was outstanding. Everything we ordered was great, although I'll single out the Seafood Tableau. Just a lot of very interesting bites, and perfect for a table of four to split. I'll happily return.

My one negative comment is that the wine list is an absolute disgrace. It's as if they shopped for the list at a local Safeway. 

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23 hours ago, Mark Dedrick said:

My one negative comment is that the wine list is an absolute disgrace. It's as if they shopped for the list at a local Safeway. 

Hey, at least they shopped local for them, they can check that box.

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The bar here is likely their firewall as it plays the role of hotel bar to the Intercontinental, restaurant bar to K/K, and, for the time  being, the most accessible bar to the center of the wharf development (I suppose that's subjective) - this is a very large space that was jammed at 10:15 last night.  Requin is losing a TON of money by not having an entrance that is accessible from Wharf St as I saw numerous parties attempt to enter and then give up in just a few minutes of watching last night.  Of course Del Mar and the irish bar were not lacking in traffic, but Kith and Kin was gaining most of the walk in traffic.

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On 12/9/2017 at 5:39 PM, genericeric said:

The bar here is likely their firewall as it plays the role of hotel bar to the Intercontinental, restaurant bar to K/K, and, for the time  being, the most accessible bar to the center of the wharf development (I suppose that's subjective) - this is a very large space that was jammed at 10:15 last night.  Requin is losing a TON of money by not having an entrance that is accessible from Wharf St as I saw numerous parties attempt to enter and then give up in just a few minutes of watching last night.  Of course Del Mar and the irish bar were not lacking in traffic, but Kith and Kin was gaining most of the walk in traffic.

And to piggyback on this, at the moment Kith/Kin is the best place to get a drink on the Wharf before dinner. I think the faux English and faux Irish bars are nothing particularly interesting, and every time I've popped in they've been slammed. My one attempt to go to Del Mar just for drinks they wouldn't let more people into the bar than they had seats (which is admirable in its own way). We've had great luck getting drinks there, and the bartenders are solid. 

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8 hours ago, Mark Dedrick said:

We've had great luck getting drinks there, and the bartenders are solid. 

That's good to know. Mrs H and I had given up on The Wharf pre-Anthem (at least until it fills in more) and got dinner/drinks uptown the last couple times we went to shows. 

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Yeah, we had good luck once on a Tuesday pre-show securing enough bar space for four people at Hank's, but every time I've tried on a weekend it, along with everywhere else, has been slammed. Kith/Kin has been the spot. As more opens, obviously, this could change. 

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We went here last night for Hubby's birthday, and just as a overview I left really impressed.  I figured after the previous restaurant good reviews meant this place was really good, as people love to hit you while your down if things are not.  I was drawn here because the menu wasn't same old, same old, but was also in a way approachable for Hubby, who sometimes menu items sound so far out there it just isn't for him even if the food is good.  But these were things we recognized, while also being interesting.  We got to the restaurant and had a drink at the bar,  while waiting for our table.  I saw the chef talking to someone at the bar (they kind of looked familiar, so may have been a celeb, but I could walk smack into Brad Pitt and might not realize it). We had Caribbean mules, which I really liked the flavor of- not to sweet, very balanced flavors, I could have drank this all night.    I called and let them know it was Hubby's bday and specifically said, we don't need anything special, I just wanted to get a nice table so we could talk and enjoy the evening.  And they gave us a really nice four top towards the back of the restaurant so we could sit side by side on a seat together and could talk and it really made the evening that much nicer.   And they wished Hubby a Happy Birthday on the way in, which was just polite and nice.  Our server was extremely nice- he explained the menu, but didn't over explain it just which dishes were entree size, what were small plates, etc, he was attentive, but not overly so, he just had the makings of a great server despite seeming fairly young in age.  

For dinner we got a series of small plates to share- curried crab dip with plantain chips- I really liked the flavor of the curry it wasn't spicy, but was flavorful, it didn't overpower the crab, but was good on its own without a bit of crab in it.  I wish the chips would have been a little larger in circumfrence, but they were good, seasoned nicely.  The beef patties were fine, but they were the most seemingly appetizing dish to order and yet the weakest- I think they just needed to be a bit crisper maybe.  They weren't bad, I just wanted them to be a little bit more than they were in some way.  The Brussles Suya though- these were the sneak attack of the night- they looked good and I wanted a little veg, but they turned out to be just killer good.  They were a little bit spicy, but just so darn flavorful with the spice mix, tomato and lime just really working well together.  I am going to have to look up this spice mix, it was delectable.  This I think was definitely our favorite dish.  We then had the lobster and crab slider, which I think was lobster and soft shell crab maybe, it was mixed together and I couldn't tell but it had the crunch of a soft shell in some places, in a good way.  It was also nicely seasoned.  We then had the red stew with chicken with fufu- I had never had fufu before and was very pleasantly surprised by the texture- similar to an Asian bun almost here.  The chicken was served on the bone, but was so fall off the bone there was no trouble just getting the meat out of the pot.  I liked the stew so much, I mopped up the bit left at the end with their really delicious yeast rolls (these are very good yeast rolls, they reminded me that I need to find a new yeast roll recipe for at home, the one I used was online and changed (note to self, screen shots are a good thing)).  Hubby got another mule, but when I ordered mine they were out of something, the waiter asked about a mezcal drink they had, but I have a bad aversion to mezcal (once you have a fire in your house there are some smoke tastes you just can't do), so he suggested a rum drink with coconut water, which was so refreshing, I really loved both drinks I had, and felt they were just incredibly balanced.  They brought us out a gratis dessert with little chocolate cakes- it may have been the rum cake because the cakes tasted like they had a little booze in them and it was caramel ice cream with something else- carrot makes sense.  It was very good, they didn't know this, but Hubby LOVES brownies and it was like a little hommage to the brownie in a way, but not too over the top for him like some chocolate dishes I like.  I was also a bit surprised how reasonable our bill was, I know we mainly had small plates, and a free dessert, but it felt like a good deal for the food we had.  Both Hubby and I commented that we would come back to try more of the menu.  We just had a really nice experience from beginning to end which was nice because we just don't have special occasion dinners that often anymore.  We felt the food was just adventurous enough, but there was a lot of care to detail in each dish to make it really approachable.

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On 11/14/2017 at 11:35 AM, Mark Dedrick said:

My one negative comment is that the wine list is an absolute disgrace. It's as if they shopped for the list at a local Safeway.

You obviously have not been to the Safeway in Sonoma!

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Went back to Kith & Kin to order the dishes that I really wanted to try.  

I wanted to try the seafood plateau but it wasn't on the menu (it's still on the website).  Disappointing start.

We started with Meat & Cheese instead - described as spiced chicken liver pate, jerk duck prosciutto, and goat cheese.  It didn't mention being smoked by a gun which left a lighter fluid taste on the cheese.  If you can get over the stank, it's really not that bad.  :rolleyes:

Beef Suya Skewer was pretty good.  Tender beef marinated in a sauce that's similar to XO sauce.

The Oxtail was charred, dry and lacking flavor.

The Goat Roti came with a big pile of potatoes and shredded goat meat.  I had to scrape the goat meat off the potatoes.  This was the second best dish of the night, but nothing to get excited over. 

The Torched Mackerel was fishy and not in a good way.

The two of us only finished the beef suya.  Half a plate of oxtail and goat roti were left.  I only had 1 bite of the mackerel.  Steve refused to try the fish after I expressed my disdain.  So all this leftover food and the server didn't bat an eye.

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Finally made it down to Kith & Kin for a dinner last night and would definitely return after what I tasted.  The group stuck with one wine all night, so not much to comment on the drinks other than - yes - they could use a shake-up in the wine area. When you've had the majority of the wines on the list (and aren't one of those people who are constantly trying new ones at home), then it's a bit too pedestrian.

Appetizers were the Mushroom Forest, Meat & Cheese, and Brussels Suya.  The first was a mash of mushrooms, herbs, and some other items topped with a mix of mushrooms.  Really great flavor in the mash - probably the favorite of the three appetizers in our group.  The meat & cheese was good - two goat cheeses, duck prosciutto, and chicken liver mousse. One cheese was semi-firm: it paired well with the fruit jam on the platter, but was a little pedantic on its own. The second was a gooey bloomed rind cheese.  Everyone liked this one a lot.  The duck prosciutto was fine - no really strong feelings either way.  The chicken liver mousse was different. We actually had a discussion about it because it didn't really have much chicken liver flavor.  There were some assertive spices and it was quite good, but became a debate on whether it was necessary to make it with chicken livers if you couldn't really taste them.  The verdict on the whole platter was that it was empty and scraped clean before it was taken away.  The final appetizer - the Brussels Suya - was quite good as  well.  Well roasted Brussels with a spice mix, lime juice (squeeze your own and ask for a napkin), and a tomato sauce or foam (we couldn't decide whether it was an airy sauce or a heavy foam). 

For main courses, we all stuck with small plates.  The first (and weakest) was the smoked fish toast. I didn't try this one, but the other two diners agreed on this point. Not bad, just not as good as everything else we had.  The curry crab dip was the second main.  Good curry with pieces of crab that you could put on the accompanying plantain chips.  Everyone liked this one quite a bit, although we all wished there were better ways to get the remaining curry out (the plantain chips were on the smaller side).  Countering that was the fact that the plantain chips were definitely the best I've ever had, making you want to just keep eating them well past the point where you should have stopped.  Last dish was the goat curry with roti.  Wow - definitely one of my favorite curries ever. It was really different from what I've always had since the most salient note was the acidity.  The goat and potatoes were both strong - the former tender and moist, the latter crispy.  The roti was a bit greasy but that puts it on par with virtually every roti I've ever had. Do I want to know how much fat goes into making those things?

Final dish - dessert - was a shared pepper platter.  Good, but we were well past the point that we should have stopped.  All in all a very enjoyable meal - we even got to see the Petal Palooza fireworks display up close.  Will definitely go back when I can face that 40 minute ride again.

One final note - it was pretty clear that the chef made an effort to staff the front of the house with predominately black waiters and waitresses.  It was notable primarily because despite DC's population being predominately black there is a drastic under-representation of that group in those roles at nicer restaurants here.  I'm not sure if he poached staff from other restaurants or simply did a great job training individuals who had less experience in higher-end restaurants but the service was quite strong. Kudos to him either way.  Perhaps he can enlighten some others in the scene on what they're I'm sure unwittingly missing out on.

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1 hour ago, zgast said:

Finally made it down to Kith & Kin .

One final note - it was pretty clear that the chef made an effort to staff the front of the house with predominately black waiters and waitresses.  It was notable primarily because despite DC's population being predominately black there is a drastic under-representation of that group in those roles at nicer restaurants here.  I'm not sure if he poached staff from other restaurants or simply did a great job training individuals who had less experience in higher-end restaurants but the service was quite strong. Kudos to him either way.  Perhaps he can enlighten some others in the scene on what they're I'm sure unwittingly missing out on.

There are a plethora of well qualified Black FOH folks in DC. Have been for years.  There is a shortage of FOH staff in the region.  Currently  Better opportunities for those that have been shut out of fancier places.

 

Reportedly the Wharf has “poached” many experienced staff

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