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The Kitchen

Looks aren't everything.

I'm all for consistency in restaurants, and grouse loudly (and too long, some might say) about restaurants where the organic squab in styrofoam demi is delightful one night and too dry the next. The Kitchen does not have a problem with consistency. Last week, it was almost exactly the same restaurant it was in July 2004, when I originally reviewed it -- which would be great, except for the fact that I wasn't entirely crazy about the place then, either. The space hasn't changed; the silver-on-brick color scheme and stylishly minimalist urban-chic decor remain. And the same aggressively local mindset -- deliberately casual mentions of homegrown sourcing, the wind-powered kitchen (with kilowatt hours bought after-market from electric-company wind farms) and biodiesel recycling -- hardly hides an ongoing, palpable yearning for international foodie stardom. The guys behind the Kitchen -- partners Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson -- haven't changed, either, but then, why would they? Their idea of creating a neighborhood restaurant that upholds their ideals of sustainable, recyclable living has proven unbelievably successful. On a Wednesday night, the restaurant was full, and it's been like that almost since the day the Kitchen opened. The menu still changes daily, and I ordered a very nice ahi tuna tartare -- which, with its microgreens and pepper brunoise, citrus oil and frilly leaf-lettuce collar, was more or less like any nice ahi tuna tartare served anywhere. The grilled flatbread with Colorado peaches, saba and a potent, soft cheese was probably my favorite dish, though the Kitchen's kitchen had little involvement beyond assembly. And the worst was a pork chop over watery polenta, served in a broken sauce that was both too sweet and too greasy at the same time. I also tried a decent hanger steak in a grainy demi, as well as chicken breast served barely warm over vegetable orzo with olives in a sauce that tasted like grass clippings, cucumber, olive, olive and olive. But they all looked good. And in large part, I believe that looks matter more than anything else at the Kitchen. This place is still more about appearance than substance, and I need a little more from my dinner.

 
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