Revisit: Fancy This

With a new menu and some showy presentation, Kincaid’s takes things up a notch.
The Boneless New York strip arrived perfectly prepared, slightly red in the center as requested, its accompanying brandy-peppercorn sauce thoughtfully served on the side in an elegant little gravy boat. But then, in a flourish that seemed a bit theatri-cal, the server picked up the silver vessel and poured the sauce over the steak without a word. Later it occurred to us that this dressing-up of the entree encapsulated a lot of the recent changes at Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House: This crowd-pleasing chain has added some pizzazz, but sometimes at the expense of leaving well enough alone.

The restaurant has tweaked the menu at all nine of its locations nationwide. Even the mashed potatoes (now silky Yukon Golds flavored with truffle oil) and the lobster bisque (assembled tableside for added drama) showed the alterations. The different cuts of steak, formerly just herbed and buttered, now get individual treatments, from a filet served with mushrooms and brandy-mustard sauce to the sirloin, grilled and applewood-smoked, with a mustard garlic aioli. A small note on the menu states that the steaks can instead be ordered with just a rub of rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and garlic—a simple preparation that remains the best choice.

One well-conceived change is the addition of small plates—samplings of entrees, served without the accompanying sides. The portions are perfect for sharing or can be paired for a meal. Among the top choices: herb-crusted prime rib with atomic horseradish and enormous chili-smoked tiger prawns, served with barbecue hollandaise, though they didn’t have as much kick as we expected. Another hit on the new menu is a chicken-and-waffles entree—an upscale rendition of crispy fried chicken served atop Belgian waffles with melted butter and real maple syrup. This unexpected find at Kincaid’s is a nice surprise—and an example of how the best offerings are often the simplest.

Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House
14159 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel, 575-9005 Hours Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat. noon–10 p.m.; Sun. noon–9 p.m.

New York Peppercorn Steak, warm Brie with macadamia-nut crust, chili-smoked tiger prawns.

Photograph by Tony Valainis

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.