Kincaid’s (Bloomington) – Not Very Good

Kincaid’s in Bloomington is a lively restaurant serving OK food. The prices are downtown steak house levels, the décor is downtown, but this restaurant is located in an office building in Bloomington, there to cater to the business crowd in the building and the surrounding neighborhood to avoid the traffic downtown, which was why we were there.

The menu is heavily focused on steaks, with numerous cuts and sizes. On my latest visit I was more interested in a lighter meal and when the server informed the table that one of the special for the evening was Halibut Cheeks, I was excited. I think the cheeks on most animals and fish are the best part so I was keen to give it a try. I was a little hesitant when he mentioned they were rolled in Asiago and Parmesan cheeses and fried, but decided to order anyway. For my appetizer I chose the lobster bisque.

The bisque arrived for assembly. A bowl was placed in front to me, which contained a smidgen of diced lobster meat. The server slowly poured the bisque around the diced lobster. It was extremely thick and full of cream…this was not a dieter’s rendition of a classic dish. Overall the bisque had a decent flavor, but the cream overwhelmed the other flavors and the lobster meat was almost flavorless.

The Halibut cheeks arrived, served with succotash and grilled asparagus. This was a good sized portion, five fried cheeks. The flavor and texture of the cheek meat was great and the kitchen prepared the doneness perfectly. I was not that fond of the cheese crust, it fought the inherent sweetness of the cheeks. The sides were not good at all. The succotash should have contained bright flavors given the time of year, but the vegetables were tasteless, and the asparagus were worse. The kitchen did not trim the bottom nor cook them sufficiently so they were borderline inedible. I give a very good to the cheeks and a bad job to the sides.

The dessert menu was presented and the server was recommending the bread pudding. After receiving and tasting it, the kitchen must have told the staff to push it. It was horrible. Here is a recommendation to all servers…if you need to apologize to the guest while pouring the sauce on a dish, remove the dish. The server apologized about the thickness of the bourbon sauce, why he did not remove it altogether is a mystery. A bigger mystery is why they served the bread pudding at all. It was a slab of bread, burnt on the bottom with a little ice cream on top and an overly thick bourbon sauce. I had two bites and decided it was not worth the calories.

Overall, Kincaid’s is trying to be a high end steak house that does not produce the product commensurate with the prices. The food was fair at best, the kitchen sends out items that never should leave the kitchen but the staff is spot on in hawking the products.

Kincaid's Fish, Chop & Steak House on Urbanspoon

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My Top Five+ Fairfield County CT Dishes from 2013

2013 was an amazing year for food lovers in Fairfield County…several great restaurants opened, several chefs moved and are now creating incredible meals in new locations, several more restaurants announced their openings and I cannot wait.

During the year I enjoyed hundreds of courses in Connecticut and on my travels. With all of those flavors and textures, it was an incredibly difficult task in choosing my five favorite Fairfield County dishes for 2013. In fact, I did not since I couldn’t whittle the last one from this list, so it is six, plus three special categories.

Here are my favorite dishes from 2013:

  • elm – The “Tagliatelli Neri” is over the top umami heaven. The dish begins with hand-made cuttlefish ink pasta topped with Peekeytoe crab, sea urchin, sea urchin butter, Calabrian chili, garlic bread crumbs and brightened with Meyer lemon juice and oil. The flavors dance on the palate and textures from the silky pasta to the crunchy garlic bread crumbs, are like none I experienced anywhere else.
  • Match – “Pho” is an incredible Vietnamese soup that Fairfield County needs to embrace. The broth is made from oxtails, ginger, onion, cinnamon, and star anise. When served, thinly sliced rib eye is added and cooked and then finished with cilantro, noodles and Sriracha. This dish is absolutely magical in its complexity of flavors and textures.
  • South End – “Nonna’s Meatballs” are comprised of pork and veal (that’s right, no beef) that are lightly mixed with tons of sheep’s milk ricotta and Parmesan cheese, then lightly fried and cooked in a crushed tomato sauce. The soft and tender texture of South End’s meatballs separates them from all of the others…they are fantastic.
  • Nola –The “Poached Lobster & Cornbread Waffle” is one of my favorite combinations in the area with butter-poached lobster, Queso Fresco cheese, topped with a brown sauce served with sweet, crispy waffles. The outstanding flavors are complemented by the best brown sauce north of Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter.
  • Mama’s Boy – The “Shrimp and Grits” just keep getting better. Perfectly prepared U15 white shrimp, red peppers, scallions, and Tasso sit atop Tennessee sourced grits and finished with a simple garlic butter, white wine, and cream sauce. The grits are my favorite and when paired with the shrimp create an outstanding dish.
  • Bar Sugo – The “Spaghetti Neri” includes squid ink pasta, smoked tomato sauce, shrimp, bread crumbs and Bottarga. The pasta and shrimp are complemented by the smokiness and spiciness of the tomato sauce, but the entire presentation is elevated by the Bottarga, which adds a delightful brininess to the dish.

Top Hamburger – The Whelk – Over 70 hamburgers comprised my 2013 Hamburger search and The Whelk’s hamburger was my favorite. Full of rich flavor, encased in a great bun and topped with some great cheese, onions and house made pickles.

Top Bolognese – Cava Wine Bar – My colleague at CTBites, Lou Gorfain, and I scoured lower Fairfield County for our Bolognese round-up and my personal favorite was Cava’s Gnocchi with Bolognese. What set this apart from the others was the soft, ricotta gnocchi that were pillows of deliciousness.

Top Pizza – Locali – This newcomer uses age-old pizza-making techniques, San Marzano DOP tomatoes and house made mozzarella. The flavors, texture and the perfect amount of char from the wood burning oven produce some of the best Neapolitan pizza this side of the Campo dei Fiori.

Lobstercraft – Very Cool Truck Food

BL LcraftLobstercraft features four different combinations. The basic “Coastal” includes buttered lobster claw meat (it looked like approx. 4 ounces) on a toasted bun or you can add some spicy butter and enjoy their “Heatwave”. And Captain Mike has two additional combinations up his sleeve. His “LBLT” adds bacon, lettuce & tomato) and the “California”tops the lobster meat with avocado, cucumber and a wasabi soy sauce. I chose a Coastal and some bisque.

BL Lob rollThe lobster claw meat was delicious, moist, with good buttery flavor; but the ingredient that elevated the flavors was the “secret seasoning” on top. The sandwich also includes a side of truck-made spicy coleslaw, which adds little heat and was a great side for the roll. The Lobster Bisque was more broth than the creamy version I expected. Captain Mike adds a scoop of chopped lobster meat to the bisque at the last minute. A second visit is in the cards to try another cup of bisque plus I made grab some MAC. The location varies. I saw the truck on Bell Street at lunchtime the other day but you may also find it at Harbor Point.

Lobstercraft on Urbanspoon