Chef Patrick Hartnett of Kachina Southwestern Grill packed his knives and left the kitchen for good on January 21. Kachina, a restaurant from the Sage Restaurant Group that opened in the Westin Hotel in Westminster last September, brought on chef Hartnett to lead the kitchen from opening day. After only several months, Hartnett was let go.
Less than three weeks before Hartnett's dismissal, on January 3, Westword published a scathing review of Kachina. Coincidence? Restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz was unimpressed with the space and concept, but she was particularly critical of the food. From the oversalted chips to pickles soaked in too much lime and tequila, under-crisped grilled chicken, and overcooked raviolis, it was all gloom and doom. Kurtz directed Hartnett to ditch the bus tour and edit the menu into a selection of dishes that can be executed day in and day out. That job is now up to someone else. A new chef has not been named, but chef Jeff Bolton of Second Home is overseeing the Kachina kitchen while that selection is made.
Back in April 2009, RootDown, then-new and promising restaurant owned by Justin Cucci got panned by Westword's former restaurant critic Jason Sheehan. Service and physical space aside, Sheehan had harsh words about RootDown. Perhaps the most stinging ones highlighted a tofu pot pie, creation of chef Ryan Leinonen. Sheehan called the tofu potpie "culinary Frankenstein-ism," and only three weeks later, Cucci booted chef Leinonen.