Based on a peek inside early this week, Kindred, the Bay View restaurant located inside the Kinn micro-hotel at 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is swiftly approaching its public debut.
The new restaurant will be operated by Marija and Vesna Madunic, owners of Firefly restaurant in Wauwatosa and Gracious Events Catering & Event Design. Chef Nathan Rader, who moved to Milwaukee from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will head up the kitchen.
The restaurant, Madunic says, will begin with a relatively limited menu, which will expand to include an ever-evolving selection of seasonal offerings.
The focus will be on small plates, including dishes like wood-ear mushroom spread served with grilled pretzel baguette, fontina-stuffed lamb meatballs, warm beet salad and piri piri fried chicken. But it will also contain items like "a really great burger" and a selection of thoughtfully constructed entrees.
And it seems thoughtful is a theme at Kindred.
The restaurant’s interior, which seats about 100 diners, showcases a heterogeneous mix of textures and colors, mixing cream city brick with warm wood tones, rich jewel tone colors and a variety of seating options.
"It’s eclectic, just like Bay View," says Madunic. "Kind of come as you are. But the focus will be on inventive food and drink offerings. The goal is really to give people a unique experience."
A cozy, u-shaped bar flanked by blue velvet banquettes and accented by warm smoky mirrors, glinting lights and decorative pillows offer guests a warm, intimate area in which to enjoy casual meal or drinks with friends.
"People always ask: ‘Well, what kind of restaurant is it?’" Madunic says. "And what we hope to be is a comfortable, casual space that’s approachable and warm. But we want to offer dishes that are inventive, unique and making great use of quality ingredients and local purveyors.
"We’re really creating a sense through the space and menu of a place where you can come and share."
In keeping with that sentiment, a heavy, rustic communal table forms the foundation of the dining room.
"We’re very excited about the communal table," notes Madunic. "We love the idea that people might come and sit down as strangers and leave having made new friends, or acquaintances."
Meanwhile, reclaimed wood partitions offer cozy seating areas showcasing deep marine blue wood tables, brown leather chairs and benches.
Eye-catching local artwork hangs on the walls, including two statement pieces from artist Jason Rohlf, whose work also hangs in the Skylight Room Lounge at Firefly.
Madunic says she relied on known entities to create the look and feel of the space, including Schlagenhaft Studios, in cooperation with Wade Weissmann Architects, the firm that also helped design Firefly.
"All of this comes back to kindred," says Madunic. "That spirit of relationships and kinships. They’ve been great friends and partners in creating spaces. And, in this case, they really helped us to complete our vision."
Come spring, the restaurant will also feature al fresco dining, complete with a Hawthorne tree donned with twinkling lights on the terraced patio. A fire pit will offer warmth on cooler evenings.
Moving forward, the restaurant will also expand its lower level space to create a private dining room and events space.
Once open, Kindred will offer dinner service to start, and it will add Saturday and Sunday brunch in the weeks following.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.