There is a decidedly homey element to the menu at Kinship. The maple-glazed sweet potato, served hasselback style as a $6 side dish, evokes fond memories of Thanksgiving dinner. A heart-shaped butterfly of roast chicken ($22) is plump and juicy, perfectly complemented by silky mashed potatoes—a tried-and-true coupling found on countless family supper tables.
But the elevated eatery, which opened recently in Evanston, has plenty to tempt culinary voyagers too. A clear standout from chef Marco Bahena (Everest) is the charred harissa lamb shank, slowly braised with a lemon rub and sprinkled with za’atar. The $24 Moroccan-style entree comes served in a cast-iron platter atop duck fat-braised lentils, well seasoned with just the right amount of spice.
Still, comfort food is the name of the game at Kinship. Hearth-roasted carrots are glazed in honey, and crispy waffle fries get a kiss of sweetness from a mound of honey butter (both $8). But our favorite starter was the smoked trout dip ($9), where dill and lemon buoy the fresh lake fish.
It’s not just the food that shines a little brighter in the former Lyfe Kitchen space; the dining room itself also benefits from a glitzy upgrade. Nixing the plain-Jane wood tables for cobalt-blue booths, marble accents and midcentury-modern lighting fixtures gives Kinship a polished, inviting look. Hardly overwrought, the restaurant is laid-back enough for families to bring their children yet chic enough for an intimate date night.
When it comes to drinks, choose cocktails with some care. On a recent visit, the Midnight Oil ($13) was overperfumed with orange-blossom water and the tequila-based House Rules ($12) was burdened by an overdose of jalapeno agave syrup, spicy enough to override any helpful notes of lime and cilantro that could have sweetened the deal.
But there are tasty options: The Ginger’s Delicious ($13) is a light, lemon-filled frolic of a drink, with vodka pleasantly uplifted by ginger liqueur, guava nectar and prosecco. Fans of Old-Fashioneds will be well-served by the stiff Urban Legend ($12), made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, and the Bitter Chick ($12) is a bubbly sipper of vodka, St. Germain, lemon and Angostura bitters.
A few dishes didn’t dazzle; the Asian-influenced salmon entree ($22), with miso and mirin, was a touch bland, and while the roasted winter greens were a colorful pile of kale, butternut squash and watermelon radish, more dressing would have added a needed punch.
But dessert chased all cares away. Chocolate lovers, look no further than the pot brownie ($9), winkingly named for the silvery miniature pot containing a fudgy, flourless brownie and a scoop of mint-chip gelato drizzled with hot chocolate sauce. There’s just enough mint, and the gelato is a welcome counter to the rich base.
For something more laid-back, owners L3 Hospitality (Late Bloomer) offer Next of Kin as a pleasant market-style eatery adjoining Kinship. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Next of Kin provides a grab-and-go option to replace Lyfe Kitchen, which L3 Hospitality ran as a franchise. Find salads, specialty sandwiches and a delightful variety of eclairs and espresso drinks, many of which are also at Kinship. No matter which you pick, you can now enjoy two spaces in Evanston where, from first sip to last bite, you feel like family.
625 Davis St., Evanston
Open for dinner Wed.-Mon. Weekend brunch 10am
Starters, $3-$12; entrees, $14-$40; desserts, $7-$12; cocktails, $12-$13