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Redemption Song

BY Nevin Martell | December 21, 2017 | Feature Features

Chef Kwame Onwuachi gets it spectacularly right at Kith and Kin—this time on the waterfront at The Wharf.
The Jost Van Dyke cocktail

THERE'S AN ELEPHANT in the room at Kith and Kin. No, not a literal one. All eyes are on executive chef Kwame Onwuachi, who earned breakout fame on Top Chef before opening the Shaw Bijou. The hyperexpensive tasting-menu restaurant flamed in and out of existence in spectacular fashion only a year ago. His latest venture, situated inside the InterContinental Washington, DC, at The Wharf, is his shot at redemption. It’s also a chance for him to let his Afro-Caribbean heritage shine. He succeeds on both counts.

Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto the promenade when the weather permits, but always give a good view of the foot traffic and the marina. The dining room is dressed up in rich browns and brushed gold, its walls mostly unadorned. A striking exception is a black-and-white Keith Haring-inspired painting of abstract figures dancing among quotes from chefs who Onwuachi has cooked under or admires, as well as one from his mother. Mostly though, this is a sleek, serious venture. The warmth and intimacy happen on the plate.

Shareable platters are a natural starting point. A collection of crudité—baby radishes, carrots, turnips and more—is pleasingly presented on crushed ice, alongside a cooling avocado dip, jerk broccoli and crunchy cubes of daikon radish in a fiery peri-peri sauce dotted with bits of plantain granola. Meats and cheeses arrive under a glass teardrop clouded with pimento smoke. When the cloche is whisked away, there’s a well spiced pâté featuring Calabrian chiles and smoked paprika, duck prosciutto and a pair of goat cheeses—all boasting unctuous undertones.

Photography Courtesy Of: