What’s up lil’ snacks? This is FoodieBooty and for this week’s post, I treated myself — Goth style — at San Diego’s renowned vegan bar, Kindred.
Midterms have fallen upon SDSU and if any of you know what that means, you know I’ve been in pain. The horror of the past week has called for a meal so delicious and decadent that it would make me forget all about the trauma also known as midterm season. So with this cause in mind, I chose to taste KINDRED in South Park because I knew it was going to be bomb and because google defines it as a “Whimsical, eccentric space for contemporary vegan fare & drinks complemented by death-metal tunes”, and that’s just too good for a romantic like me to ignore.
The first thought as you walk into the restaurant is that you’re in the wrong place. When I think of a vegan restaurant I think micro-greens, Bob Marley, some random people doing yoga poses outside the window, and advertisements for mindfulness by the cashiers. KINDRED is none of these things.
KINDRED is more like the vegan cousin who moved to New York to be a poet but then failed, became an alcoholic, dabbled in hardcore drugs, and touched rock bottom until he was saved by discovering the wonders of death metal, seitan, and cats as pets.
KINDRED is edgy, dark, and just like Google says, “whimsical.” It has beautiful granite tables and a granite bar perfectly complemented by dim lighting and an elegant ceiling filled with tiny mirrors. As soon as I walked in I felt Tim Burton/witchcraft/Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets vibes that I had never experienced in relation to food. I was excited to try the food and even more excited to try the drinks!!! So lemme dig in here and tell you what I thought.
Something funny about KINDRED is that there are more pages in the menu dedicated to drinks than to food. They take their alcohol very seriously, and it shows. I ordered a drink called “Horrorchata” because I was feeling sweet and the Mexican inside was begging for it.
It was a concoction made with bourbon, brandy, biscotti liqueur, forbidden rice horchata, and mole bitters. Granted, apart from the horchata, I have no idea what half of these ingredients are or what they are meant to bring to the table but, I can tell you that this drink was seriously delicious. It is not for the lighthearted (or lightweights teehee) because upon the first sip this drink deep throats you with bourbon. But as it sits in your mouth it becomes sweet, creamy, cinnamon-y and slightly bitter. What gives the horror to the chata is the dark tint added to the drink which is usually white but it honestly could be the hangover a day later if you drink more than 2 of these with your dinner.
The other drink shown in the picture is the one my Old-Fashion, whiskey-loving sister ordered and it was a specialty drink not on the menu. I thought I would hate it because I usually hate the taste of whiskey, but combined with lime and the other special KINDRED juju, it was pretty tasty with just enough sweetness and hints of wood.
The Main Squeeze: The Starters
Now let me talk about what I really went to KINDRED for. It all started with the puffs… The beautiful, buttery, amazing puffs…
The dish is called “Herb Puffs” and they’re what I wanna float away in when my spirit makes its way to wherever it ends up going. I ordered them because according to my sister, it was the most hyped menu item when she looked up KINDRED and let me tell you: THE HYPE IS SO LIVED UP TO, IT DIED AND THESE HERB PUFFS RESUSCITATED IT!
I expected little fluffy bread balls with some kind of special butter but these extraordinary mini croissants were what I received. The plate comes with about 8 puffs dressed in butter and herbs, and they are accompanied by a vibrant spicy mayo. Taking a bite out of this puff is like biting a buttery, savory, crunchy cloud, and when dipped in the tangy spicy mayo, the fat in the puff is perfectly balanced and they practically become crack. If you order anything from here, please do me a favor and just order the puffs.
The next dish we ordered was the “Skewers” of chargrilled seitan (veggie protein) bathed in chimichurri, horseradish aioli, and harissa. This dish was the most dynamic and interestingly flavorful from the bunch we ordered.
The seitan was beautifully tender on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. It tasted smokey and peppery and the 3 sauces were the perfect complement to it. The chimichurri was zingy, the aioli was creamy, and the harissa had a sensual bite to it. Although two of the sauces were cream-based, the dish itself did not sit too heavy on the palate or stomach. The dish comes with three skewers and it is so good I could have honestly called it a day after this dish.
Moving on: The Entrees
We ordered two entrees. A sandwich called, “The Dip” and a dish called “Soul Crush”. The sandwich had shaved peppered seitan, grilled peppers and onions, lemon cilantro garlic butter, tapioca mozzarella, porcini mushroom Au Jus (the dipping juice), and potato chips on the side. This sandwich is a play on the french dip sandwich made famous by Los Angeles. Kindred’s version is a hot sandwich that is meant to be dipped in the savory mushroom Au jus with a baby soft bun, thin slices of seitan and perfectly melted mozzarella. This sandwich was perfect. It hit all the notes of salty, sweet, savory, fatty, and umami, and in terms of textures, it was a dream. With the tender seitan, the juicy juice, the crunchy sauteed onions, the melty cheese, and the unbelievably crispy potato chips, the sandwich was truly da bomb.
The “Soul Crush” on the other hand was the first thing I disliked about KINDRED. It is described as one of the most ordered items, composed of cornmeal-crusted gardein, parsnip potato mash, broccolini, creamy cashew beer mac, and tomato lemongrass veloute. The plate itself looked beautiful but once I got to tasting, the dish was not as beautiful as it looked.
The chicken had a gorgeous crust to it that was crunchy and very well seasoned. But, the chicken patty inside the crust was actually pretty bland and the mac and cheese under it was creamy and spicy but not flavorful. The broccolini were cooked in al dente heaven with a tart vinaigrette enveloping its charred leaves and were the tastiest part of the dish. The parsnip potato mash was very smooth and buttery but it had a flowery aftertaste to it that was somewhat unpleasant. The tomato lemongrass veloute was very tasty and had a smooth texture to it. The only drawback from the sauce was that it came in a little tub on the side, and since it made the dish come together the small amount included was not enough to save the dish. I don’t want to make it seem like it was inedible because it wasn’t! But, it was the first dish from the ones we ordered that did not blow my taste buds away through its components or cohesion.
The Belle of the Ball? Dessert.
My sister and I ordered the brownie because of course.
I was craving a rich, fudgy, warm brownie that would sink my worries with the depths of cocoa and fudge. With its description as a TCHO chocolate brownie, with a blood orange-red wine gastrique and pistachio cacao nib bark, I thought that would be exactly what I would get. However, what I got was very different. An itty bitty brownie arrived sitting on a violent yet poetic splatter of red wine reduction with some shards of bark on the top and sprawled around.
Surprisingly, the good parts of this dish were everything but the brownie itself… The gastrique was perfectly acidic and bright with the citric notes of the blood orange wonderfully balanced with the taste of wine. The pistachio cacao nib bark was superb! It was slightly salty, nutty, and super dark chocolate-y, so if you are more of a die-hard hershey’s lover then you probably would not like it. But for those with a love for chocolate as dark as their twisted souls (like me), this bark would be the highlight of the dish.
Now for what I didn’t like. The brownie was very similar in size to one of those mini brownies they sell at Costco. It was the skinny version of the dessert I thought it would be. The taste itself was good at first but as I chewed more the taste of the chocolate became synthetic and reminded me of what play-doh smells like. It was not a spit-out meal but it wasn’t very pleasant either. The texture was fudgy on the inside and had a nice crust but it didn’t have the taste to back it up. I decided to just skip the brownie and have the delish pistachio bark with the wine gastrique and that was delicious on its own. I’m thinking it might have been an off batch since everything else was almost perfect but I would still recommend skipping the brownie if you want something with more umph!
Final Booty Points
Oh KINDRED, I love you so. Your service is so fast, welcoming, and accommodating. Your design is so edgy and unique, it makes me feel edgy and unique just for being there. Your merch bar including sick T-shirts, bandanas, pins, and stickers, is sooo cool. Your food is majestic (specially the puffs and skewers, the soul food and brownie not so much)! Your drinks are as powerful as they are innovative. And your interpretation of veganism is magnificently opposite to whatever anyone thinks of veganism.
The only thing I might deduct points on would be on the price since my bill came out to $84.35 bucks…. However, I did order almost everything on the menu so I still think it’s pretty affordable for a nice night out if you only get a drink and some starters.
Out of 5 points, I give KINDRED a nice and even 4.2. For the mix of the experience, taste, and textures. I strongly recommend bringing someone on a hot date at night, or a cute lively date when they have brunch on the weekends. The pancakes look BOMB.