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Kin bar, restaurant opens in Boise, ID, with a la carte menu

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As Remi McManus and Kris Komori prepared to launch Kin in early 2020, their occupancy permit finally arrived at just the wrong time — the day after dine-in restaurants were shut down because of the unfurling coronavirus pandemic.

“The middle of March was chaos for us,” McManus confessed in an email blast last April. “We watched the restaurant industry that we love crumble around the world.”

A year later, one of Boise’s most-anticipated restaurants finally has risen from the rubble.

Kin (stylized as KIN), 999 W. Main St., opened its bar Thursday, April 1. It’s the first time the general public has been invited inside. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Reservations are required indoors; the outdoor patio welcomes walk-up customers. Kin’s tasting room, which will offer a prix fixe menu, remains closed for now.

Kin’s talented team navigated the past 12 months with home-delivery meals, “Outdoor Nights” on the patio and a “PiKINic” series of warm-weather amphitheater dining, which resumes in May. So during a private opening days ago, seeing people eat indoors felt surreal after a year of kitchen isolation.

“It’s extremely emotional for us,” Komori said in a phone interview. “But we did a test run, and we saw friendly faces, and we were reminded of what we love to do. And it was scary, and also very fulfilling.”

Komori and McManus, Kin’s co-owners, are locally renowned for their previous restaurant venture, State & Lemp. As chef de cuisine, Komori was a semifinalist in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for Best Chef: Northwest in the James Beard Awards — aka the Oscars of the culinary universe. Along with a business partner, they sold State & Lemp in 2018 — which closed the following year — and haven’t worked at a dine-in operation since.

A la carte bar menu

Like State & Lemp, Kin will take an ambitious, prix fixe approach in its tasting room — when it finally opens, and the threat of COVID-19 has faded. (“Maybe fall. We’ll see,” Komori said.)

Right now, Kin is “a cocktail bar first,” he explained. “The food menu is a la carte. It’s not like what we used to do.”

Kin is targeting downtown patrons who stop in before likely heading elsewhere, Komori said. That doesn’t mean they won’t discover a full meal among the roughly dozen food choices. “If you order half of that menu, you’re going to be pretty full,” Komori said. “But by design, we want to be more like, get a couple drinks and have a couple small plates. Just a couple bites and be on your way.”

Craft cocktails range from a Sweet Pea ($12, gin, Green Chartreuse, pea syrup, lemon, lavender bitters) to the signature KINdred Spirits ($14, rye whiskey, Aperol, amaro, bitters, absinthe).

Former State & Lemp diehards will be eager to dive into the cuisine, which will metamorphose seasonally. You might start with Chip and Dip ($7) or Sprouted Salad ($9). Or cave to the temptation of Sunchoke Poutine ($11), Lamb Tartare ($14) or Tempura Mushrooms ($14).

“It’s bar food at heart, but it’s with local seasonal stuff,” Komori said.

“And everyone serves a burger,” he added. “We were like, ‘Well, we don’t need to serve a burger. We’ll serve a hot dog!’ ”

Kin roasts a mean weenie. Like all dishes there, the Smoky Hot Dog ($11) — with Spring Onion Giardiniera on a poppy-seed bun — is beyond the norm. These ain’t Ball Park Franks. They’re Malheur River Meats chuck.

“We make ‘em in-house and smoke ‘em here,” Komori explained. “We make the buns.

“They’re good!” he insisted with a laugh.

“Come sit on the patio and eat one.”

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment writer and opinion columnist. He chronicles the Boise good life: restaurants, concerts, culture, cool stuff. Deeds materialized at the Idaho Statesman as an intern in 1991 before taking on roles including features editor, sportswriter and music critic. Over the years, his freelance work has ranged from writing album reviews for The Washington Post to hyping Boise in that airline magazine you left on the plane. Deeds graduated magna cum laude from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism.

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