Enjoying the restaurant scene in DC can sometimes be challenging. It’s the combination of very small, no reservation restaurants with restaurants that take reservations, but two weeks or a month in advance, at a precise hour, requiring you to stand, with fingers raised, at your keyboard or phone at the appointed time to claim a spot. Sometimes I’m not ready to make a reservation one month in advance, and certainly not every time I want a good meal out. And if you want to treat guests in town to interesting food at a smaller neighborhood spot, it’s hard to consider it a “treat” if you must start standing in line at 4:00 pm. And even then not be guaranteed a seat at the table that night.
One Saturday night, it was only me and J, and we thought that showing up at The Dabney at 6:00 pm without a reservation would still give us a shot at a seat at the long bar. We were wrong. We could have put our names on the wait-list for seats about an hour and 45 minutes later, but decided to venture out into the neighborhood instead. After a glass of wine at Maxwell Park, we walked a few blocks down and over to the other side of the DC Convention Center, with fingers crossed, that we’d land a seat at the bar at Kinship. The restaurant’s facade is painted black with “Kinship” softly etched in a window to the left of the door. The name wasn’t visible at the time (it was dark) making the recessed entrance seem purposefully secret.
Kinship is the “less fancy” restaurant above Metier, the “more fancy” restaurant of Chef Eric Ziebold and Celia Laurent. (J and I ate at Metier for J’s birthday last year and it remains one of the best dining experiences I’ve had. But back to Kinship.)
The bar area is a long open space separated by a wall from the dining room. A few tables and small booths line one side The smooth white bar opposite had four vacant seats when J and I showed up. We took two and the couple walking in right behind us, the other two. We happily sat down and exhaled. At Kinship we didn’t feel rushed, we weren’t jostled by the comings and goings of people behind us, and we didn’t have to raise our voices to be heard. We indulged that night in meaty corned beef short ribs with delicate cabbage confit agnolotti – a stand-out “corned beef and cabbage” in a light broth. Along with velvety cauliflower soup and some reds by the glass, a cold evening in DC with no reservations turned into a warmly relaxed dinner at Kinship’s welcoming bar.