The recent chatter about a dearth of midscale Chicago restaurants may have inspired Kith & Kin, a restaurant that appeared so suddenly it seems feasible it was conceived just weeks ago, when all the chatter started. But even if the restaurant wasn’t born out of such conversations, it nevertheless provides an answer to those looking for cheap (but not too cheap) meals. It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve looked at a menu and thought that the prices (entrées hover around $16) were such that I could come back multiple times a week.
This is, of course, assuming that I lived in the neighborhood. Because Kith is a textbook neighborhood joint. The fair prices alone make it such, and other neighborly aspects—the whimsical, roomy interior; the friendly staff—only seal its fate. Sometimes traits like these are all a restaurant needs, especially on a block as hungry as this one, and my hunch is that Kith & Kin would be just as hopping as it is today if it served…I don’t know…cat food. So it’s a bonus that some of the food is delicious. I liked the pimento cheese, and I loved the lamb stew, which arrived with posolelike accompaniments and had a broth that sang with notes of chiles. The housemade rigatoni with hulking bits of mushrooms was toothsome and appropriately rich. And the confited chicken thighs had a gorgeous crisp skin, with fall-apart, fat-slicked meat underneath.
Unfortunately, the mussels arrived in a broth that was almost inedibly bitter, and the seared escarole salad, though it exhibited a pleasant smokiness, had one too many elements that were sweet. The pork creton (a pâtè-like spread) cried out for salt, and though the desserts were sweet and filling, they fell short of satisfying. Until those things are fixed, Kith may not reach destination restaurant status. But there are plenty of neighborhood folks whom the restaurant will keep happy in the meantime.