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.
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