I don't spend nearly enough time exploring the Finger Lakes. That statement is one of the more embarrassing things I can say considering I love the food options in the region. The farthest I usually go is Canandaigua, but part of my mission this summer was to spend more time checking out what the area has to offer.
What drove me to Geneva specifically was a desire to check out Kindred Fare. The restaurant has been significantly hyped, unlike any recent establishment that I can recall. It delivered on that hype, and left me wishing it was closer.
There is an attention to detail, from top to bottom, at Kindred Fare. The design uses a lot of what could have been stereotypical, modern tropes, like reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and an open kitchen, but here, it doesn't feel forced. The service was equally as sharp, with a combination of a friendly demeanor and keen knowledge of a constantly shifting menu.
The sharply presentable bar area serves up a well thought out list of house cocktails — many with a culinary bent — and classics. The Springtime for Lafayette ($9) was true to its name with an eye catching pink hue from hibiscus and a bright, complex combination of cucumber and green chartreuse. Much darker, the Rum in the Morning ($9) used coffee and a 5-year-aged rum backbone, rounded out by the warm flavors of amaro di angostura and charred pineapple.
The food menu is delightful, and a little over half the dishes contain limited amounts or no meat. Kindred Fare takes advantage of the phenomenal agricultural region by focusing on local sourcing. The menu has a sophisticated simplicity that really makes those local gifts pop.
One of my favorite dishes was a rich plate of green beans and jowl bacon ($14) where the beans were the star. The green beans had a noticeable crunch, and its assertive flavor stood out above the shallots and even the wonderful jowl bacon. The dish was like a cross between biscuits and gravy and a green bean casserole in the best possible way.
The summer squash salad ($8 for a half portion; $14 for whole) combined crunchy ribbons of squash with raw corn, all brought together with a lightly creamy cider vinaigrette. This was an exercise in fresh produce winning the day, and the pop of mint and light salt from the feta complemented everything perfectly. The FLX Mushrooms, a dish that includes a light sauté of Finger Lakes oyster, trumpet, and shitaake mushrooms ($14) in a thyme heavy butter, could function as an appetizer, a side, or a meat-free main course. A bit more browning would have made it a more complex affair, but it was hard to argue with the plate as a whole.
The 1/2 Southern fried chicken ($20) was highly recommended by our waiter, and I can see why. A brined and breadcrumb coated bird was cooked to a juicy, crispy state and served with a house-made hot honey that brought the sweet heat to the plate. The breading on the chicken was a bit under seasoned but the overall composition was solid. A whole cornmeal coated fried porgy ($24) was a special on our second visit and we were thrilled to see a lesser used fish on the menu. This was another case where salt was needed but the side of a peach salsa that came with the dish suited the fish nicely.
Dessert didn't disappoint either with the chocolate almond torte ($8) and peach cobbler ($8) taking center stage. The dense and intensely chocolate filling of the tart was smooth and dark with tempered sweetness with the crunch from the almonds on the plate brought it all together. The winner of the dessert round was definitely the made-to-order skin-on peach cobbler. The balance was impeccable on multiple levels: temperature with the baked base and the ice cream, texture with the softened fruit and the light crunch from the base, and sweet and salty with toffee notes rounding things out. This is a dish worth travelling for and I'll be hoping it is still on the menu next time I make the drive to see what else I can find in the Finger Lakes.
You can read more from Chris Lindstrom or listen to his podcast on his food blog, foodabouttown.com. Share any dining tips with him on Twitter and Instagram @stromie.