Catching Up at Kachina

New restaurant in Westin Westminster exhibits Southwestern flair

The Westin Westminster’s long-running restaurant called O’s Steakhouse was noteworthy (especially for its suburban location) when the talented Ian Kleinman was executive chef, turning out fine versions of the mainly American menu but really livening it up with his fantastic molecular gastronomy creations. He left, and O’s seem to have sunk into oblivion. Now it has risen again, reincarnated as Kachina Southwestern Grill, now operated by the Sage Restaurant Group. Under the high, beamed ceiling look is Southwestern  with some whimsical touches — a double-sided divider with shadow boxes containing miscellaneous tschotchkes, indoor trees an assortment of harmonious ceiling fixtures.

The menus are as attractively designed as Kachina’s decor.

Executive chef Patrick Hartnett, whose resume includes the Taos Inn and Red Sage in the Buffalo Thunder Resort near Santa Fe. Of course, he is sourcing from local farmers and ranchers when he can, and the butchering is done in-house, giving the chefs control from the carcass. Harnett. has some Southwestern classics, some tweaks and some updates in an altogether pleasing menu.

A clever Kachina gimmick, at this time of year anyway, is a rolling dim sum cart from which roasted corn with a choice of sauces is served. It’s a change of pace from the standard chips and salsa offered at most Southwestern restaurants.

Beguiling as the rolling cart was,  my husband still succumbed to the temptation of chips and three salsas — the perfect foil for fine margaritas.

Chips and sampler of three tasty salsa — pico de gallo (my all-time fave), chile morita salsa and ancho tomatillo salsa.
Not to be outdone by the salsas, the guacamole also comes in a sampler of three versions –traditional, corn and chipotle.
Ancho chile relleno and Navajo taco (Kachina has seven on its dinner menu).
Gorgeous presentation of pan-seated Colorado striped bass in a red chile crust served with poblano pesto, tomato salad and braised fennel.
Ice cream and cinnamon churros.

Price check: Appetizers (some designed to share), $8-$12; soups, salads and stews, $6-$11; Navajo tacos, $5 each; main dishes and grilled entrees, $12-$47 (the latter a 22-ounce dry-aged bison ribeye, by far the most expensive on the menu); sides, $5; desserts, $3 for a single scoop of ice cream and $7 for everything else.

Kachina Southwestern Grill on Urbanspoon