Review: Kindred in Oak Grove too good for just the neighborhood

Credit: Alison Jakaitis

Credit: Alison Jakaitis

For a small, cozy neighborhood restaurant, Kindred might be a little too good.

After its transformation from Kitchen Six, the new restaurant in DeKalb County’s Oak Grove neighborhood is busy enough that you shouldn’t risk showing up on the weekend without a reservation. Kindred’s energetic atmosphere and excellent food have made it a neighborhood secret too delectable not to share, and regulars now face the prospect of competing for tables with diners from across metro Atlanta.

Kindred is small, which contributes to its convivial atmosphere. Walls of quirky portraits gaze across the room from murals painted by artist Liz Haywood. A dark tile backsplash pulls you toward the bar, enhancing the loungey vibe.

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Credit: Rebecca Cochran

Credit: Rebecca Cochran

But what’s bringing in the customers is the food. Chef Rick Watson’s Kindred menu is stacked with winning dishes.

Watson and business partners Chaffraix Rowles, Ralph Catalan and Rick Adams also own Oak Grove Market, a butcher shop and grocery store that is located in the same shopping center as Kindred. Watson said the idea for the restaurant developed as a way to showcase the beef sold at their market.

Kindred serves three cuts of steak — rib-eye, filet mignon and hanger — but offers eight different ways to dress those cuts, with a side dish included. We tried the woodsman-style filet, so our perfectly medium-rare steak came topped with a variety of smoked mushrooms and sorrel. The execution was impeccable, but it’s elsewhere on the menu that Watson shows of his creativity.

A perfect example is Kindred’s crispy braised chicken thighs, served with chimichurri. It’s a humble dish that requires a three-day process to make. The bone-in, skin-on Springer Mountain thighs are dry-brined overnight, then braised and set aside a second night. Finally, they’re flash-fried to order for a crisp crust over juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat.

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Credit: Logan Pins

Credit: Logan Pins

The relatively short menu manages to offer variety, so meals at Kindred can feel completely different. Alongside the steak and chicken thighs, we ordered the fabulous burger and the pimento cheese board, which was filled with vibrant house-made pickles that balanced the rich cheese spread and accompanying bacon jam. That visit felt like eating in an upscale tavern.

Our next visit was more like an elegant seafood restaurant, minus the white tablecloth. An appetizer of grilled Spanish octopus with romesco was so tender that it seemed held together only by its own crispy, grilled edges. The beet terrine looked like a technicolor layer cake, with goat cheese stacked between red and gold beets, adding an interesting twist to familiar flavors.

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Credit: Rebecca Cochran

Credit: Rebecca Cochran

Kindred also recently introduced a new monkfish dish that our waiter (and Watson) described as “the poor man’s lobster.” That didn’t mean it was cheap, but the sweet monkfish, wrapped tightly in bacon, did achieve a lobster-like texture and flavor. A bright, tomato-based sauce kept the dish from becoming too heavy.

The thoughtfully designed menu lends itself to quick service, which can be a double-edged sword at a restaurant where you might be tempted to linger. Dishes can appear too quickly, and the staff sometimes stops by your table too often.

That’s a minor complaint when the service typically is excellent, and the staff at Kindred goes above and beyond. When we asked our waiter for wine recommendations one night, he offered us a taste before we ordered. Watson said the wine list is focused on smaller, lesser-known producers, and rotates often, so he encourages the staff to let diners try wines before they order a full glass or bottle.

Credit: Steven Haydu

Credit: Steven Haydu

It’s no surprise to find such neighborly care and attention at Kindred. Watson, Rowles and Catalan spent years working at Oak Grove Market before partnering with Adams to open the new restaurant.

“People coming from outside the neighborhood is great, but it’s all kind of gravy,” Watson said. “We’ve really got to take care of the people that live right here.”

When a restaurant cares that much for its community, it turns out that people all over tend to take notice.

KINDRED

Food: steak, globally influenced new American

Service: devoted

Best dishes: burger, crispy braised chicken thighs, Spanish octopus, monkfish with bacon, pimento cheese board

Vegetarian dishes: beet terrine, Kindred salad, burrata, tacos vampiros, veggie plate

Alcohol: full bar

Price range: $$$

Credit cards: all major cards accepted

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays

Parking: shopping center lot

MARTA station: no

Reservations: yes

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: loud

Outdoor dining: about 20 patio seats, weather permitting

Takeout: order via phone or in person

Address, phone: 2751 Lavista Road, Decatur. 404-330-8336

Website: kindreddecatur.com

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