The waiting may be the hardest part for fans of Kitchen 713, but it comes to an end next week. The process of relocating the acclaimed Southern restaurant from its original location in the Second Ward to Washington Avenue draws to a close on December 26 when the restaurant reopens to the public for the first time.
“At the last minute we saw this place,” co-executive chef-owner Ross Coleman says of the former TQLA/Commonwealth space. “We fell in love with it: nice, huge, big space. We love the area. We love Washington. We know Washington has a vibrant restaurant scene, so we just want to be in the mix.”
To achieve that goal, Coleman and partner James Haywood have developed an all-new menu. While a few staples like shrimp and grits and the Southern fried chicken for Sunday brunch remain, most of the menu items take their influence from five countries: China, Ethiopia, Italy, Mexico, and Thailand. They manifest themselves in dishes like ceviche with Thai chiles and fish skin chicarron, Ethiopian beef tartare with cardamon, and waygu strip steak with housemade XO Bordelaise sauce.
“It’s a much more expanded menu,” Haywood says. “We have some of the classic features, we kept some of those, but now it’s much more expanded. ‘Global soul,’ we call it now: unpretentious, unadulterated soul food, not Southern soul food.”
Coleman demurs on the question of whether there’s one particular dish he’s most excited about. “We really don’t have any throwaway dishes. Everything we have we really put our heart and soul into. I would love to eat through the whole menu if I were a guest,” he says.
In addition to having more room for diners, the new space will also allow Kitchen 713 to serve alcohol, and the new cocktails take their inspiration from the same countries as the food. The Fragmented Glory combines tequila and Sichuan peppercorn-infused mezcal with chili oil and lime juice. Meant to connote the smell of dishes being seared in a wok, the drink delivers smoke and spice along with the slight numbing tingle associated with peppercorns (Update: Kitchen 713 will be BYOB when it opens, pending receipt of its liquor license in early January).
Changes to the space include new paint to replace the gold, knocking down a wall to unite the bar with the dining room, and all new furniture. The look isn’t showy, but the overall level of polish demonstrates the step forward that Kitchen 713 is taking with the new location. Do the chefs feel ready to introduce themselves to people who will be trying their food for the first time?
“We have no choice now,” Haywood says “We’ve embraced the gravity of the situation. We’re very confident and have faith that it will all play out.”