Gulf-coast inspired seafood dishes at LP restaurant

January 15, 2010 10:00:20 AM PST
Kith and Kin is a name you're going to be hearing more of down the road. In a Lincoln Park space previously occupied by a so-so Mexican joint, the new incarnation draws on influences from all over the world: handmade pasta, roasted chicken thighs- even carefully-constructed sausages. But two dishes caught my eye recently; both have strong southern roots and reflect on the chef's time spent working in Florida.

David Carrier is certainly ambitious. As Executive Chef at the unfortunately named Kith & Kin (which means friends and family), his food is hearty, yet also defined by an almost religious adherence to the quality of ingredients and solid cooking techniques. This stretch of Lincoln Park could certainly use it. Take the mammoth grouper cheek sandwich is something Carrier was inspired to create from his years spent in Apalachicola, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico.

"The use of the grouper cheek was a way for us to serve an awesome piece of meat, a piece of meat that someone doesn't normally serve in a sandwich, and to do it at an affordable price point," said Carrier. "We were trying to find lesser-known cuts that are typically less expensive but most importantly full of flavor and a little bit less common."

With its Schlitz beer batter, a stunning seven pieces are piled onto homemade brioche buns, that have been slathered with homemade tartar sauce. A homemade pickle seems besides the point, but it too, is stellar.

Another seafood-friendly dish with Low Country inspiration from the Carolinas, is Carrier's shrimp and grits. Giant, plump shrimp are sauteed with cubes of butter.. as well as vibrant collard greens. Rather than adding any pork products - or even chicken stock - they substitute smoked shrimp broth, which adds flavor and keeps it vegetarian.

"So we simply sauté the shrimp, add that smoked broth to it, and serve it over Anson Mills grits, which are amazing in and of themselves, because of the process in which they're produced. They're ground when they're needed, so you get that corn flavor, that richness," Carrier said.

Carrier's menu jumps all over the globe, which is part of the restaurant's strategy.

"We're talking about this as being a neighborhood spot, so why not have that neighborhood feel, that neighborhood diversity on the menu as we do with the people that compose the neighborhood," said Carrier.

The menu really jumps all over the place- even to Canada, where carrier gets inspiration to make poutine: the traditional snack of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds.

Kith and Kin 1119 W. Webster Ave. 773-472-7070