This week, the hospitality team behind Ruffian (the recently designated Michelin Bib Gourmand) opened their offshoot project, Kindred, an East Village restaurant with nods to the coastal Adriatic regions of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.
While they wait for gas, Kindred is currently operating as a wine and cocktail bar with a small selection of snacks: smoked olives, onion dip with flatbread, a crostini plate and chicken meatballs. The menu will be extended in upcoming weeks, to offer diners an incentive to spend more time in the tastefully decorated space.
The decor in the East 6th Street location is minimal and clean, evoking the feeling of a sun-soaked Mediterranean getaway. The bar and dining room are separated by a white-washed brick wall, calling to mind Italian aperitivo culture—one where diners are encouraged to socialize while sipping cocktails at the bar before even looking at the food menu.
Charlotte Mirzoeff, director of the cocktail program and head bartender, was heavily influenced by the laid-back nature of Italian aperitivo tradition while crafting the mixed-drinks. “Aperitivo culture is catching on because it’s more sustainable,” she said. “It’s not going to three different restaurants or bars and being shit-faced by the end of the night.”
At the same time, you’ll find more than just Aperol Spritzes here. The cocktail list is compact but lively, featuring six creations with complex, layered flavors and tropical vibes. A staff favorite is the Isola Mai Tai, which features Belizean rum, cachaca, pineapple, pistachio syrup, lime, basil and celery. “When you think of coastal regions anywhere in the world, you’re like, ‘I want a piña colada or a margarita,’ tropical- style drinks,” Mirzoeff said. “So I wanted to steer Kindred’s cocktails away from plain-old Italian aperitivo and give it this more coastal identity.”
During happy hour (weekdays 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and late night happy hour (Friday and Saturday 11 p.m. to 12 a.m.), there’ll be three additional cocktails—an Italian style Daiquiri, a rum and pineapple drink called Jungle Bird and a sparkling aperitivo cocktail—at reduced prices.
Kindred isn’t solely focused on cocktails—the restaurant stays true to its Ruffian roots with a wide selection of natural and orange wines. The list of around 70 wines from the featured waterside regions is focused mainly on by-the-glass options, but the bottles also sit at reasonable price points, with very few bottles exceeding $100.
“What’s great about the Adriatic region is that you get fantastic value in the quality of wines, particularly with older vintages, but at a very good price point,” said Alexis Percival, partner and co-director of the beverage program.
Once up and running, Kindred’s full menu will serve a little bit of family tradition to the East Village. Chef de Cuisine Amy Mattulina (Maialino, Charlie Bird) says the handcrafted pasta dishes will start off with her grandmother’s recipe for potato-based gnocchi, paired with a simple tomato sauce. In addition, there’ll be large-format dishes like “fish in a blanket” and a whole hen roasted with Calabrian chili oil and preserved lemon. Smaller plates will include fried chickpeas, fried ravioli, seasonal roast vegetables, radicchio salad and a warm grain salad, all keeping to the theme of Adriatic cuisine.
Reservations are available on a limited basis, something that the small space at Ruffian doesn’t allow for. But only a small number of tables are set aside each night for reservations. Mirzoeff wants people to walk in and socialize, true to the name Kindred. “It’s an homage to community and an homage to bringing people together.”
Kindred is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Beginning November 11th, Kindred will be open 7 days a week.