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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Riverfront Chain

Kincaid’s steak and seafood

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Last October, after 18 years in business, the Third Street Pier abruptly closed its doors. The large and once-popular eatery fell victim to changing customers and competition. The space, however, lives on, this time in the form of a growing national chain named Kincaid’s. Its specialties are steak and seafood, and its prime riverfront location, not far from the Bradley Center, makes for a good fit.

The changes are all in the interior, where the bar has been relocated to a bank of windows along the river. Warm wood tones and a few carpeted areas have replaced the oak woodwork and polished brass. Dining takes place on two levels. Although the best tables are adjacent to the windows, nearly all diners will have river views, which can be especially nice after dark, as you sit and watch the boats float by. The service sets high standards, but the kitchen has its ups and downs. The appetizer of colossal buffalo prawns ($13) turns out to be not so colossal.

The prawns, which are cut in pieces and encrusted in a rock-hard batter before being coated in hot sauce, arrive with a generic blue cheese dressing. Though the accompanying coleslaw is far better, it’s not an inspiring appetizer. On the other hand, the New England clam chowder ($6.50), while pricy, is exactly what it should be: plenty of minced clams and bits of redskinned potatoes in a light cream broth without thickening agents. In between is the Broadway pea salad ($7). This consists of shelled peas interspersed with pea pods and bits of water chestnut and bacon. It is tasty, but the creamy pepper dressing makes it taste like a distant cousin of seven-layer salad— homey fare not suited to fine dining. One entre to try is the roasted prime rib of beef ($29-plus). While the cut is not large, especially for the price, you can snag a larger cut for an additional surcharge.

The beef is aged under rock salt, but most of the fat is trimmed before it’s served, so there is only a trace of salt and a very tender and succulent piece of meat. Order the larger cut, even though it’s served with very ordinary mashed potatoes and onion strings that would be better if served warm.

On the seafood side of the menu are asiago almond-crusted sea scallops ($24), six jumbo sea scallops with a thin crust and an appropriately sweet sauce of champagne beurre blanc. It’s the highlight of the menu. The scallops are served over a wild rice blend with pieces of fresh asparagus and roasted red pepper that add color. Then there are the king crab cakes ($25). Not all crabs make a good cake. The best in this country is the blue variety from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Kincaid’s cakes have an outer coating of bread crumbs, with the pungently flavored crabmeat almost lost in the center. Pickled ginger adds an Asian accent, as do the black sesame seeds sprinkled on the two sauces—sweet-and-sour and buerre blanc. Unfortunately, the cakes are already immersed in the sauces when served.

Lunch is a good time to visit: Prices are lower and there are some good sandwiches. On Fridays, the popular beer-battered fish & chips ($13) come with large pieces of cod. There are 25 varieties of wine served by the glass ($6.50-$15), as well as a sound selection of tap beers and, naturally, many martinis.

Today’s restaurant field is far more crowded than when the Third Street Pier first opened, and Kincaid’s will face a challenge. While the service is fine and the kitchen operates at an efficient pace, the menu still needs some fine-tuning, especially at these prices.


Kincaid’s | Photos by Tate Bunker

KINCAID’S
1110 N. Old World Third St. 227-1111 $$$-$$$$ Credit Cards: All major Smoke Free Handicap Access: Yes