Kini is a laidback beach town on the less-visited Greek island of Syros. Kini’s is the energetic Mediterranean restaurant inside the fashionable Clayton Hotel & Members Club (the restaurants are open to the public). While the vibes are slightly different, the moniker is perfect: Kini’s brings that bright slice of the Mediterranean to Cherry Creek, via its fresh, seafood-rich menu and lush, intimate interior.
From the moment you walk into Kini’s, created by the same group as nearby Quality Italian, you’re struck by the elegant beachy feel. It’s dark and sexy but still serene, with light wood floors and accents, and flecks of ocean blue on tables and plates.
The menu covers a good chunk of the Mediterranean, from the Galician octopus to the beet muhammara to the flaming kasseri cheese. Plates are basically divided by size, from smaller goodies like dips, appetizers, salads, and seafood from the raw bar, to large plates that include a good selection of wood oven-roasted fish plus land-centric entrees like grilled lamb chops and felt mignon kebabs. And then there are larger plates still, like the grape leaf-wrapped sea bass for two or mega tomahawk ribeye.
The whipped goat cheese is a great way to kick off your meal. Cut with ricotta and loaded with sweet saffron apricots plus a chili dusting, the creamy dip is especially good on the ridiculously soft pita wedges. The meatballs also have that sweet/savory balance. The five meaty spheres are made with filet mignon trimmings, then coated in a date molasses sauce and set atop cool yogurt. You could easily make a meal from the small dishes, but then you’d be missing out on Kini’s roster of fish.
Just as you probably wouldn’t skip the fish while enjoying a leisurely al fresco dinner overlooking the actual Mediterranean, you shouldn’t skip it here either. You first choose your fish—branzino, red snapper, sole, salmon, or octopus or langostines—and then your sauce. The spicy green zhoug is made hot with serranos and is great to zip up the mild branzino; the lemon tahini could be nice with the king salmon; and the red pepper romesco is just perfect with everything.
If you still have room, great—you can order the sticky toffee pudding, Kini’s most popular dessert. But if that sounds like too much, even better. The Greek frozen yogurt is a lighter, and more unique finish to your meal. A server will drizzle olive oil over the tall glass of yogurt, lemon granita and salty topper. It’s about as refreshing and tangy as a dessert can get.
Cocktails are similarly Mediterranean influenced. The Cherry Crete is made with Greek’s Mastiha, a liqueur made from the resin of the Mastic trees that grow in the islands, along with Maker’s Mark, cherry and lemon. The Golden Negroni is a beautiful take on the classic, mixed with turmeric-infused gin and apricot. And for easy sipping you can’t beat the Sumac Spritz, a sweet blend of grapefruit, prosecco, vodka and house-made sumac bitters.
Kini’s is definitely bringing those Greek isle vibes to Cherry Creek, and if you can’t be lounging by the sea in reality, at least you can capture the taste and feel close to home. From the décor to the food to the drinks, Kini’s nails that Big Med energy.
Kini’s: 233 Clayton St.,Denver; kinisdenver.com