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B.B. decided to take me out to dinner a couple of Fridays ago. We drove to Clay Terrace in Carmel and decided to try out Kincaids (their motto “American Dining Classic”). Neither of us had heard of anyone else going there, but we decided to give it a go.

We did not make a reservation, and were led to a booth without having to wait. There are two parts to this restaurant, a dining area and a bar area which looks more casual. We dined int he dining area. The restaurant had an atmosphere of a good ol boys club. There were a lot of antler heads and mounted salmon on the walls. There was a fireplace, dim lighting, soft music (jazz would have suited the place but they were playing classical rock). It almost felt like this restaurant really wasn’t sure what kind of mood or theme they wanted (romantic? business? casual dining?).

This restaurant is a seafood and steak place (reminds me of the Keg). Specializing in steak and seafood, you would think that it would be easy deciding what to order, but it was difficult choosing something from the menu. This is in part because the layout of the menu made it seem like there were a lot of choices, but it was actually more confusing. The problem wasn’t in choosing what you wanted to order, it was deciding the combination of food that you want to order. For example, based on reading the menu, one wasn’t sure whether or not to get additional side dishes or not, or if you ordered a steak, it wasn’t clear that you should also order side dishes to accompany your meal. The 6 word descriptions on the menu really did not do a good job at describing the dishes. After a lot of deliberation, I decided that I didn’t want to mess with ordering a bunch of different side dishes, so we both went straight for the entrée menu.

I am usually very quick to decide what I want to eat, but I have to say that I had some difficulty choosing. Normally, I like to have a juicy steak, but I wasn’t in the mood that night. I decided to go with seafood and I ordered the étouffée.

not so good

What is étouffée? It is a Cajun dish that includes shellfish and is typically served over rice. This dish is popular in the state of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans. The literal translation in French is “smothered” or “suffocated.” I did not know this at the time, I was mostly thinking that shellfish would be nice (a combination of prawns, mussels, clams, and scallops sounded good). The étouffée at Kincaids is served with cheese grits and braised greens. However, I ended up being pretty disappointed with my meal, which tasted as disappointing as it looked.

didn't taste great enough to smother my dishThey also brought a large gravy dish with the orange/brown étouffée sauce. The server told me that the sauce is poured all over the dish, but I didn’t want to have my meal swimming (or suffocating) in the sauce. I had the sauce on the side, sampled it and then decided that it didn’t taste as good enough to pour all over the dish (the only thing that would have done was improve the way my dish looked). 

Despite this, I ate my dish. The shellfish was especially spicy (my mouth was on fire), the prawns were overcooked to the point of being tough. The cheesy grits were odd and did nothing to enhance the flavour of this dish. The greens were unidentifiable and looked like they were over boiled and not pan-fried seared. My dish basically looked like it was slopped onto the plate (even though I took a picture of my dish, it looked worse than this picture). This dish cost $28 and was not even worth half that amount. I’m sure that there is good étouffée out there, but I do not recommend the one at Kincaids to anyone.

B.B. had the salmon with 5 Chinese spices (what those spices were, we’re not sure). His salmon was undercooked and slightly raw (this was $29). But I must admit, his dish looked a lot better than my dish.

I think that the server was either too busy to come over and ask us how our dishes tasted or she knew that my dish looked terrible and did not want to come and ask. I suspect it was the latter. So I ended up sending an e-mail to Kincaids to express my disappointment about the food (I forgot to mention B.B.’s disgust with the iced tea that he ordered–it was flavoured with passion fruit syrup and it cost $3). Kincaids responded and asked me for my mailing address so that they could send a complimentary gift certificate. They sent us a gift certificate for $50. For now, I’m leaving Kincaids in the pending section of my restaurant review. Maybe the next time we go and visit the food will taste better, but I’m not going to order the étouffée again.