Bang your head … with tofuSection 4A, Eat This! Thursday, March 31st, 2016
I must confess my initial skepticism about Kindred, a vegan restaurant creating a buzz in South Park. The usual clichés came to mind – patchouli, sandals and tie-dye, when I heard the word “vegan”. I would never have associated Death Metal, devilish cats and battling eyeballs with vegan cuisine, but I do now.
I visited Kindred one recent afternoon and took a seat at the long white marble bar. A gentle breeze wafted through the open wall-sized windows. Head-banging Death Metal music rained from the speakers. I admired the décor – a glass and brass chandelier hanging from a mirror tile and stamped tin ceiling, tuck and button black leather booths, a massive four-eyed wolf-like beast sculpture hanging on one wall with satanic felines on another and, most intriguing of all, the custom-made “ballet slipper pink” wallpaper featuring eyeballs fighting to the death with Medieval battle axes, flails and broadswords. In short, a House of Goth like nothing else.
John the friendly bartender, tall, bearded and easy on the eyes, presented the menu and pointed out a few of the highlights. The extensive list of craft cocktails offers slightly sinister concoctions such as “Thundertaker” and “Unholy Zodiac”. I began with the Faith Hammer ($9), a complex blend of earthy rye, dry vermouth, flowery Benedictine, anise-flavored Absinthe and R+D Sarsaparilla bitters garnished with a slice of orange peel. The satisfying well-balanced beverage has a lot of depth with a sweet finish. I also tried The Spice Must Flow ($9), a unique flavorful blend of Blanco Tequila, Green Chili Vodka, fresh lime juice, cinnamon, almond-flavored Orgeat and cold brew coffee, shaken and served with a slice of jalapeño. Very much like sipping a fiery Christmas cookie.
The menu focuses on up-scaled bar food. Appetizers include fried beer battered house made dill pickle slices, and popped corn with chili, chives and lemon, but I was intrigued by the Skewers ($8). Cubes of wheat protein-based seitan are grilled, trickled with tangy chimichurri and spicy harissa sauces, then topped with a dollop of horseradish aioli and chopped green onions. The ample appetizer has a tender medium-firm chew, a good smoky flavor and a mild heat.
Entrées varied from Seared Cauliflower Steak to Pistachio Crusted Tofu, but I was captivated by the Memphis BBQ Jackfruit sandwich ($10). Unripe jackfruit imbues the slightly sweet tomatoey BBQ sauce with a rich meaty flavor. Curls of pulled soy with a consistency of, and resemblance to, thick slices of pork belly, are served “wet” with tart dill pickles, onion and a green chili aioli between slices of crunchy grilled sourdough bread. A side of fresh-from-the-fryer sweet potato chips completes the presentation. The amazing sandwich, while satisfying on many levels, tended toward the salty side of the flavor spectrum.
When asked which was his favorite dessert, John quickly replied “the Cookie Dough Truffles”. The dark chocolate ganache coated truffles ($6) have a soft center of sinfully delicious EatPastry chocolate chip cookie dough and are served with sprinkles of toasted coconut and sliced almonds beneath a drizzle of light orange cream. So decadent. So habit-forming.
Kindred is the playful mischievous brainchild of Kory Stetina (LOVELIKEBEER) who teamed up with Arsalun Tafazoli and Paul Basile (Craft&Commerce, Noble Experiment, Polite Provisions) to give it life. They’re open seven days a week and feature a weekend brunch. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
1503 30th Street
Mon.-Thurs. 4 p.m.-midnight, Fri. 1 a.m.
Sat: 10-1 a.m., Sun. midnight
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