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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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On 10/22/2017 at 10:25 PM, funkyfood said:

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. 

On 2/11/2018 at 9:13 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

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. 

IMG_1621.JPG

I had the Goat Roti ($24), Baised Goat Shoulder, Crispy Pototoes, and Celery Variations, about ten days ago, and it was one of the best dishes I've had in 2019. It doesn't look much like Eric's picture, so I suspect it has changed since then. In terms of having a kick, this was a yellow sauce, and I'd say very Caribbean at heart, although it had no kick per se - the sauce tasted like it had dairy in it, maybe Ghee or something, although this did not come across as an Indian dish at all.

Both the dish itself, and the paper-thin bread (Roti?) that came with it, were pretty sensational.

GoatRoti2.jpgGoatRoti1.jpg

This was during a late Sunday lunch. To start, we had a couple of non-alcoholic drinks (I can't remember what they were, and can't find the Drinks Menu online, but they were good, refreshing, etc.) With these, we had the Mushroom Patties ($12), Spiced Mushrooms, Calypso [sauce] and Tamarind [sauce]. I was worried that the Calypso would be straight Matouk's (which is made from the Scotch Bonnet Pepper), but it was very mild. These should be made with dipping sauces instead of everything being squirted on top. The patties themselves were very typical Jamaican Patties - crescent shaped, and stuffed with a mushroom-based mash - there were three of them.

MushroomPatties.jpg

With the Goat Roti, we also had the Wharf Roll ($18), Buttered Crab, Crispy Crawfish, Apple Remoulade (which I'm not remembering), and Waffle Fries. A riff on a traditional lobster roll, the amount of crab and crayfish meat was ample, and the brioche on which it came was delicious. The Waffle Fries were seasoned with an Old Bay-ish dusting, and came with a tub of Ketchup.

WharfRoll.jpg

I remember service as being very mixed - when we approached the host stand, the girl told us the restaurant was full, so we started going somewhere else. But then I looked in and saw an empty bar, and asked if we could sit at the bar for drinks (she said yes). We walked in, and found out they served quite an ample bar menu, and our bartender called a manager over who told us we could get a table in about fifteen minutes (both the bartender and manager were wonderful, but there was some type of odd miscommunication with the host stand - if walk-ins were being turned away, they might have lost twenty covers). The overall impression was that the restaurant was quite good on this day, and I was positively raving about the Goat Roti.

On another note, is Onwuachi getting all this press lately solely because of his book? If so, good for him, but boy that seems superficial to me (in terms of the media).

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16 hours ago, DonRocks said:

On another note, is Onwuachi getting all this press lately solely because of his book? If so, good for him, but boy that seems superficial to me (in terms of the media).

Trashing any of the Keller places will always generate press. Doesn't always end up as planned though - see Psaltis, Doug.

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17 hours ago, DonRocks said:

On another note, is Onwuachi getting all this press lately solely because of his book? If so, good for him, but boy that seems superficial to me (in terms of the media).

I don't know, I've had several really good meals at Kith & Kin - perhaps a young chef succeeding after failing in spectacular fashion is a compelling story?

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3 minutes ago, Marty L. said:

Not saying it's not good for the masterminds themselves (but cf. Mike Isabella)--but it rarely benefits the restaurants that were great in the first instance.  That is to say, we the consumers tend to lose out.

Guess you haven't been to either Daniel or Gramercy Tavern lately.

It can be done, just hard. I'm of two minds here - I understand your broader point, as well as the mantra that expansion = bad. But each outpost from the chefs above provides a platform for up and coming chefs (Andrew Carmellini, Dave Chang, Lee Hanson, Jonathan Benno, Francois Payard, and Johnny Iuzzini  from the Daniel universe alone, and Gail Simmons from the FOH) as well as lots of jobs. Often the restaurants in other locations aren't the same as the originals, and that's ok as well. I think Dave Chang in particular has done a good job of empowering each chef and having them put their own spins on the menu. No reason Kwame can't do the same, assuming he puts in the work.

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Be careful about making a false equivalency: Kith/Kin is no Jean-Georges or Daniel.

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4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Be careful about making a false equivalency: Kith/Kin is no Jean-Georges or Daniel.

Believe me, I know. On the plus side, therefore easier to scale.

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On 4/16/2019 at 6:12 PM, Marty L. said:

A very nice comeback story.  I haven't been to K&K because I try to avoid the Wharf.  I can attest, however, that the cheesesteak place in Union Market is really great. What worries me:  He dreams of running “a bajillion restaurants.”  Never a good idea.  

I had dinner at Kith/Kin this week - Chef Onwuachi was there, schmoozing the dining room.

We sat down, and had the menus placed in front of us. Before we had a chance to order our drinks, our (otherwise pleasant) server recited nearly the entire menu, droning on and on through every item, when all we wanted to do was relax with a cocktail. 

The drinks menu at Kith/Kin is draw-jopping - (I made you pause there, didn't I. Now, pay attention:) - highlighted cocktails were $18, so I turned to the wine list, only to find what is arguably the single-worst, most outrageously expensive wine list in Washington, DC - if I were still the Washingtonian wine columnist, doing a "Best Of" column, Kith/Kin would certainly not be on it, but it might have a special mention as an Overpriced Tourist Trap - the wines are essentially what you'll find at Rite-Aid, multiplied to 4-times retail (and I mean this quite literally - picture a $15 drug-store wine selling for $60, and you'll get the picture). How can it be that no food or wine writers have mentioned this?

Look at this question and answer on Tom Sietsema's chat from Apr 17 on this exact subject:

Hi Tom. Welcome back. I missed you during your mini-hiatus! Here is another plea to restauranters: please make sure your restaurant's website has information that diners want. For example, Kith and Kin's website has pretty pictures of food and drink, but it does not have the restaurant's wine list or the cocktail list posted. That's a mistake in a city where restaurants have highly-regarded cocktail programs (and wine lists). [...]

A: Tom Sietsema

You're right regarding the menu. It would be great if Kith & Kin told diners about its liquid assets. [...]

---

And that's the response. Anyway, we ordered Gin and Tonics ($11 with Beefeater), and stuck with them throughout the meal. Dining public: Consider yourselves warned.

Before the courses, two rolls were delivered gratis: These were house-made "King's Hawaiian Bread" clones in the form of hamburger buns - delicious, evil things loaded with salt and butter, and if you take the first bite of yours, you'll also take the last because they're sinfully good.

For the first course, we split a King Crab Curry ($24) - a bowl of crab meat in an intensely buttery liquid, with plantain chips, finger lime, and cilantro. Any and all spice could be found in the chips themselves; the bowl of buttered crab was entirely neutral - these were innocuous chips, tasty but clumsy, and (remember this) the dish was *much* better after taking some chips, sticking them in the bowl, and mixing the entire thing together - don't use them as dunking vehicles, because they're non-absorbent, and you'll be much happier using them for texture, and eating the course with a spoon.

KingCrabCurry.jpg

The next two dishes were shared as a main - I enjoyed the Goat Roti ($24) so much two weeks ago that I had to order it again; this time around, it was completely different than before, less yellow and more brown, with more traditional spicing - the inside of the curry was oddly more yellow than the outer skin (which you can see), although I detected no heat-lamp treatment, i.e., "no skin" on the dish. We both agreed that this curry paled in comparison with what we had before, although to its credit (and our server said this same thing), it was noticeably better the next day for lunch; the Roti itself was thicker and chalkier in texture on this occasion (you can see the chalkiness in the first photo on the bottom); previously, it was pretty much perfect. The two versions are shown here:

Mar 31, 2019: GoatRoti1.jpgGoatRoti2.jpg
Apr 14, 2019: GoatRoti3.jpgGoatRoti4.jpg

Along with the Goat Roti, we had the Jerk Chicken ($24), with Tamarind Jam, Jerk BBQ, Braised Cabbage, and Coconut Rice. This was a heavily charred portion of chicken, with a large portion of breast meat, seemingly injected due to its high moisture content in the interior. The sides were very forgettable, but the chicken itself was perfectly fine, even tasty when dunked into the Jerk BBQ sauce. 

JerkChicken.jpg

As a point of comparison - the night before, we went to Hen Quarter in Old Town, and each ordered the Hen Quarter Special ($19), a quarter fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, biscuit, and honey butter. Though different in preparation, these two dishes were comparable in quality - both my dining companion and I agreed that we had a slight preference for Hen Quarter's chicken, although it's something of a coin flip, as neither of these dishes would be on the All-Star team.

HenQuarter1.jpgHenQuarter2.jpg

The previous visit to Kith/Kin, we both left eager to return; this time around, we left with feelings of indifference - as the Goat Roti goes, so goes Kith/Kin.

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