I had my first dinner at Kindred on Saturday and can confirm with certainty that it lives up to the hype.
In case you missed it, the small family-owned restaurant in Davidson was named one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America and #7 on the Hot 10 list last year. Amanda took a detailed dive into a full-blown Kindred food review back in August so I want to explore the off-menu items that round out the unforgettable experience.
While Kindred is certainly a special occasion restaurant, it delivers the experience in a way that feels friendly and approachable. The host stand is an iPad. The servers wear denim. You won’t find white linen tablecloths or whisper-quiet music. There is magic in crafting a dining experience that’s somehow meticulously refined yet carefree.
Attention to detail
Little things like the weight of a sturdy cocktail glass, the shape of the ice, the sparse freshness of a unisex bathroom scream, “We did this on purpose and we are proud.” Every inch of the 3,700-square-foot restaurant is intentionally designed and intentionally utilized.
Big F’ing Cookie Awards
In an industry known for high employee turnover, Kindred celebrates its staff by doling out Big F’ing Cookie Awards to top performers. The edible trophies are awarded for hard work, improvement, leadership and sometimes straight up silliness. One time the BFC went to a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for being with Chef Joe Kindred “since the beginning… through thick and thin, good times and bad.” Hilarious but also a brilliant way to create a positive work environment that in turn creates a positive guest experience.
Never underestimate the importance of high-quality ice. You know a bartender knows what they’re doing and that the restaurant really pays attention to its cocktails if the ice comes in different shapes for different drinks. My cocktail came with one huge solid cube of ice, the surface area of which ensures that it will melt slower thus leaving your drink perfectly chilled without being watered down. Kindred’s ice is sourced from an ice sculptor and delivered in large scored sheets that are chiseled apart into the appropriate pieces for each drink. Perfection.
The drink menu is impressive as is but for a truly unique drink experience customized just for you, go for The Bartender’s Choice. Your server will ask you about your preferred liquor and flavor profile (sweet, bitter, fruity, herby, etc.) and the bartender will mix up a cocktail just for you delivered with a list of ingredients and hand drawing on a coaster.
Hand-written thank you cards
Our check was delivered with a hand-written thank you card, a simple but impactful old-school move that never goes out of style. Class act all around.
Ok ok, and a look at some food…
Kindred’s menu is made up of small plates designed to be shared and our server recommended three per person. I was the lone vegetarian with four friends who eat meat so they ordered at least a 18 plates to share and I went out on my own with plenty to fill me up.
A must-order is the milk bread ($5), a light, airy, chewy bread topped with pyramid salt that’s perfect for sopping up extra sauce.
Among my friends’ dishes, the buttermilk fried chicken ($10) was declared the “best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten.”
I got the Grandfather’s pickles ($4), little gem lettuces ($10) and a pasta without the sausage ($14-ish). Everything was perfect.
We also got three desserts to share. Chocolate birthday cake with sweet cream ice cream and sprinkles ($8), roasted apple galette with buttermilk ice cream and milk jam ($8) and salted chocolate chip cookies with cinnamon ice cream ($6).
I enjoyed my first taste of Kindred so much, I went straight home and booked the last available table for their special Sunday opening on Valentine’s night. Can’t wait.