Kinship

I dropped the ball on ordering a special Valentine’s Day prix fixe take-out thing, partly on the premise that I wasn’t sure how long I would take to recover from my second vaccine dose, but mostly because I was being lazy. So by the time I got around to the Washingtonian list of restaurants running specials, I was down to a $300 Komi take-home tasting menu, and Kinship. Komi, I love you, but I can’t pay that kind of money for food I eat in my pajamas. Kinship’s $87.50 per person seemed almost reasonable by that measure (side note: why not just advertise it at $175 per couple?) Buckle up everyone, we’re about to go for a ride.

My pick-up time was set for 5:00. I’ll give you a minute-by-minute detail below:

4:30 I got a text telling me to text the restaurant when I arrived and to stay in the car. “Oh! Sounds like they might be ready to start handing out food soon!” I said. “Let’s get going soon.”

4:52 We pull up right outside the restaurant and I text. We are the first ones there. I receive an immediate text back that they are running a few minutes behind schedule.

5:00 More people pull up. There are 10 or so people standing on the sidewalk too.

5:10 The right lane of 7th St. is completely blocked by people waiting for their food. Still no sign of our “few minutes behind” food.

5:17 Two tuxedoed runners emerge from the restaurant carrying two bags apiece and begin looking for specific cars. One of them is jogging up the sidewalk. The other appears in no rush.

5:25 Still sitting in car. Nobody has acknowledged us. Some cars leave. More arrive to take their spots.

5:30 My husband suggests that I might be able to flag someone down if I get out of the car and stand outside the restaurant. Despite it being 35 degrees and I am wearing one of my sluttiest dresses, I comply.

5:34 More people show up outside the restaurant. I immediately begin talking shit with them. These new people are all picking up for the 5:30 timeslot. I tell them I hope they are warm because it’s going to be a while.

5:40 A restaurant employee asks, “Is anybody here still waiting for a 5:00 pick up?” I wave my hand in the air like the teacher’s pet desperate to answer a question. He takes my name, but I’m not sure why, since I am the last one for 5:00.

5:47 Food in hand, we depart from Kinship.

After more than an hour door to door, I was so excited to unload our food and chow down. But I would soon find out I was nowhere even close to eating because Kinship had packed us a needs-heating choose-your-own-adventure jigsaw puzzle of fancy food. Each component was packed separately in order to preserve the integrity of the ingredients, which would have been very considerate…if they had been labeled. Each tiny cup had a colored sticker on top. We thought they may have been color-coded except…nope. Every color was different and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. Two of them were a chocolate dip and a dark-colored chicken jus. Four of them were a lobster oil, a coffee cream dip, an aioli, and a miso gelée. I was left to figure this out through trial and error while my oven preheated to cook a cornish hen I’d paid $175 for.

I am so so tempted to not even talk about the quality of the food in this post. A restaurant of their supposed quality builds their reputation not only on their food, but on their service. I understand that it’s hard to judge service these days, but on one of the only days they could have exemplified their planning and logistics, they absolutely botched it. But in the spirit of fairness to the food, here it is, rocky start to finish:

First course: lobster bisque. Rich, almost to a fault. I knew from the first bite that we would not be able to finish the majority of the broth because it was so boozy and thick, so I focused on serving the lobster and rice inside. Could have used more lobster. Ultimately, I was glad to have a microwaveable appetizer while the main course heated.

Second course: tuna tataki. Setting this up was problematic due to the sheer quantity of toppings. The fish itself was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the faux chicharrones were light, airy, and crunchy. There was a generous helping of everything, at least. Some guidance on how to construct these would have been helpful.

Main course: pomegranate and root vegetable salad (left, obviously) with whole cornish hen (aka chicken) and steamed gruyère pudding (right). Once again, not sure how to eat this. Separately? Together? We had another little container of what they called cider jus. I poured it on the undressed salad, but maybe it was supposed to be for the chicken? Still unclear on this. Salad was salad, not worth mentioning. Then hen was…uh…robust. I mean, like, definitely just a regular chicken. But at least there was a lot left for leftovers. The skin was crispy after its stint in my oven and the inside was juicy, even the breast meat, but it lacked flavor. How much does a rotisserie chicken cost at Whole Foods? $8. Coulda done that instead. The gruyère pudding, despite being maybe the ugliest thing I’ve ever received from an upscale restaurant, was fluffy and cheesey and light.

Dessert: hazelnut pithivier featuring…yes! MORE SMALL CONTAINERS OF CONDIMENTS! Not gonna lie, the pastry itself was freaking delicious. It’s hard to fuck up butter, butter, hazelnuts, and more butter, but still. It flaked and crumbled all over the place. I liked the coffee cream (bottom left, looking waaaaaaay too similar to the aioli in the second course). The chocolate dip was also rich. Not mentioned: the cara cara orange dip. It was fine.

UPDATE: Kinship emailed everyone who had picked up on Sunday and apologized, explained the problem (people postponed during Saturday night’s ice storm), and offered everyone a free gift!…the next time you order take-out from them. Thanks, guys. I’m glad that the next time I drop $200 on a dinner, I’ll get a free tote bag or whatever.

Price: $120 per person, including tip.

Bottom line: Listen, I’m not going to tell you to not go here. I don’t think it’s fair to judge a nice restaurant by its take-out. But I will tell you that I will not be giving a second chance. I paid a lot of money for someone else to handle logistics, and handle logistics they did not. Consider Kinship HARD BANNED.

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