2000 Pennsylvania NW, Washington, D.C.
I've heard that Kinkead's is a good bet for RW, so I decided to check it out for myself. Kinkead's was once a pretty reputable DC establishment, but there have been rumors that it has fallen off in recent years. I was curious to find the answer - had it really gone downhill? Or had the recent proliferation of fresh blood simply shoved it lower on the increasingly competitive DC food chain? I was on a mission to discover the truth.
I was surprised to find that Kinkead's was actually pretty damn tasty. The RW menu was expansive, offering everything from seafood to beef to duck to pork. The portions were a good size. There were at least six options for the appetizer, the entree and the dessert, and dinner started with a big basket full of bread - raisin bread, sourdough and squares of sweet cornbread. Not amazing, but not bad - I think carbo-addicts would approve.
I started with the butternut squash ravioli, served with pancetta, parmesan and toasted pumpkin seeds. The ravioli were filled with a creamy orange puree that was just redolent of buttery squash and 100 percent full of deliciousness. There were only two ravioli accompanied by a browned butter drizzle, but the taste was so rich (who knew squash could taste like that?), that the portion was perfect.
The hubs started with duck confit with poached pears, arugula, bleu cheese and walnuts. Combining all those tastes together in one bite was heaven. The duck was surprisingly not greasy nor overly "ducky" (hee hee). One of our friends ordered the grilled squid, served with creamy polenta and tomato fondue. It was some of the best squid I have ever had. Lightly breaded and grilled, the texture was firm, never overcooked or rubbery. Delicious.
My main was grilled Mahi Mahi, served on top of a chickpea cake with a blood orange, currant and pine nut relish. The hubs had the pepita-crusted salmon with cilantro, chiles, crab, shrimp and corn ragout. He ate it without offering your writer any, so I will have to take his word that it was delicious, with a strong, spicy Tex-Mex influence. Other nice dishes: maple and black pepper barbecue brisket and the Menage a Trois of pork, which included pork belly and pork sausage. Dessert was chocolate molten cake with caramel ice cream. Killer. The cake was moist and perfectly encapsulated the ooey-gooey melty chocolate. The caramel ice cream was surprisingly flavorful. The meal was accompanied by a glass of full-bodied Sangiovese that was pungent and round.
Overall, the food was surprisingly good. The RW menu was impressive and the food was delivered as promised.
Now for the cons: Um, what the hell is up with the decor? While the dark wood staircase distracted me at first, I quickly realized that it didn't make up for the fact that I had wandered into a Days Inn in Manassas. Seriously. The wallpaper, flecked with strands of pink and turquoise, evoked a strange mid-level motel theme.
Even worse: there was a dirty-looking greenish, murky acrylic "wave" that ran along the wall, filled with these horrible fake fish whose faces looked like they were screaming for help (see photo above). It was very disturbing ... like a B-grade horror movie. I liked the food, but I felt so uncomfortable with the restaurant's vibe that I would never recommend Kinkead's to anyone. I felt like I was preparing to eat a crappy "continental" breakfast (e.g., Frosted Flakes and Parmelat) at a Days Inn. I know you're not supposed to judge a book but its cover, but come on people! Keep your restaurant current! There's something to be said for "traditional" (see Old Ebbit's Grille), but this wasn't even traditional! This was crap! Did someone hire an ex-wife to decorate the place? It honestly shows a lack of caring and commitment.
As for the service - the level of service was fine, but every time our server left for an extended period of time, we thought he had offed himself. He may have been the most depressed person I have ever met in the customer service business. We wanted to move all sharp objects and bits of rope out of his reach. He was perfectly polite but um, hello? Please get help, Perfectly Nice Server Man. There are people and organizations out there who can help you through this troubling time.
So, the verdict: The food was tasty. The RW menu was impressive. The wine was nice. The server was polite yet potentially suicidal. The decor was hideous. Make of it what you will, but I won't be returning to Kinkead's. There are too many other places to spend my time and money.