There is a decidedly homey element to the menu at Kinship. The maple-glazed sweet potato, served hasselback style as a $6 side dish, evokes fond memories of Thanksgiving dinner. A heart-shaped butterfly of roast chicken ($22) is plump and juicy, perfectly complemented by silky mashed potatoes—a tried-and-true coupling found on countless family supper tables.
But the elevated eatery, which opened recently in Evanston, has plenty to tempt culinary voyagers too. A clear standout from chef Marco Bahena (Everest) is the charred harissa lamb shank, slowly braised with a lemon rub and sprinkled with za’atar. The $24 Moroccan-style entree comes served in a cast-iron platter atop duck fat-braised lentils, well seasoned with just the right amount of spice.
Still, comfort food is the name of the game at Kinship. Hearth-roasted carrots are glazed in honey, and crispy waffle fries get a kiss of sweetness from a mound of honey butter (both $8). But our favorite starter was the smoked trout dip ($9), where dill and lemon buoy the fresh lake fish.
It’s not just the food that shines a little brighter in the former Lyfe Kitchen space; the dining room itself also benefits from a glitzy upgrade. Nixing the plain-Jane wood tables for cobalt-blue booths, marble accents and midcentury-modern lighting fixtures gives Kinship a polished, inviting look. Hardly overwrought, the restaurant is laid-back enough for families to bring their children yet chic enough for an intimate date night.
When it comes to drinks, choose cocktails with some care. On a recent visit, the Midnight Oil ($13) was overperfumed with orange-blossom water and the tequila-based House Rules ($12) was burdened by an overdose of jalapeno agave syrup, spicy enough to override any helpful notes of lime and cilantro that could have sweetened the deal.