Kachina: A taste of this week's review

To the Hopi, kachinas are spirit-beings associated with rain, corn, animals and other elements critical to life in the desert. Dolls of the same name are crafted for children -- not as toys, but as study tools, a three-dimensional catechism for the spirits they represent. Not that you'd grasp this from the splashy Southwestern restaurant of the same name that opened in the Westin Westminster in September. According to the menu, kachinas "represent anything in the natural world or cosmos," including "a location, a quality...or a concept." But the only concept represented at Kachina seems to be a Southwestern cliché straight out of Epcot.

See also: - Slide Show: Behind the scenes at Kachina - Chef and Tell: Patrick Harnett, exec chef of Kachina, on chiles, chiles and more chiles

Inside the meandering space, twisted trees, apparently shorn of their bark by the elements, are hung with lanterns. Timbers protrude from adobe-like banquettes. A blackened-steel coyote howls in the bar. A partition of pueblo-style niches, open on both sides, divides the dining room from the exhibition kitchen, giving diners (especially in the bar, where stools are tall) a view of the action. The restaurant is lovely but overdone: You half expect the hostess to tell you there's a private kiva for margaritas or a red rock climbing wall for kids.... Hungry to know more? Read the complete review of Kachina in Westminster here.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz