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Kinkead's, 1995 James Beard Award winner Bob Kinkead on 20th and Penn - Closed

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#51 Joe H

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:07 PM

I haven't been to Kinkead's in seven or eight months but I first had the tuna carpaccio there almost two years ago and returned at least three or four times just to incorporate it into a meal. I've been eating his food since 21 Federal and my wife and I celebrated our first New Year's Eve there in a sparsely populated dining room just months after he first opened, thirteen or fourteen years ago. On the basis of what may be as many as thirty or forty visits over the years I've experienced Kinkead's as an absolutely outstanding restaurant on par with any "fish restaurant" in America. I've also experienced it as incredibly disappointing. Some of this has also been influenced by several nondescript and boring rooms to have dinner in. At his best his soups and stews are extraordinary; particularly his Portugeuse seafood stew which may set the standard for all soups of this kind I've had on this side of the Atlantic. At his worst I've left shaking my head, sourly missing the Kinkead's I've known from the past. Recently, it seems that the majority of posts on here and elsewhere have been very negative about his restaurant.

Scottee's post was very reassuring (I've also found that her tastes and mine seem to be similar): I believe that his tuna carpaccio is the best I have ever had. Yes, it's different and has elements that make it seem more of a salad. (North 44 in Toronto has the best "pure" tuna carpaccio I've tasted) But I like, even love everything in it along with exceptional tuna. For overall taste and composition I find it delicious. But I can also understand how someone who only wants the pure taste of tuna would find it underwhelming.

Of course for everything I've said about Kinkead's I just put a post on the New York thread that is going to destroy whatever credibility I have! On a visit this weekend to Manhattan with dinners at Le Bernardin (arguably the best seafood/fish restaurant in America) and Del Frisco's (a cloned steak house owned by Lone Star) guess which was the favorite of our group of six? Del Frisco's. (Actually we swelled to a group of ten at Del Frisco's.) And, it wasn't even close. But this was less about taste and creativity and more about indulgence and comfort on a cold and windy winter's night. Still, I've been to Le Bernardin before (several times) and believe it to be one of the best restaurants in America.

At his best, I think Kinkead challenges it.

I would like to believe his namesake restaurant is returning to his roots of excellence. It's certainly worth a visit from me sometime soon.

I think I also now understand why steakhouses, at least good steakhouses are so popular. Frankly, I'm almost embarassed to have liked Del Frisco's so much. Even more embarassed to have liked Orlando's Del Frisco more than Manhattan's. Neither had the best steak nor sides that I have had. But they were comforting and indulgently, plainly reassuring. (And no, of course, Del Frisco's is not as good as Le Bernardin. But I LIKED it more as did the others.) But I'm not embarassed to have liked Kinkead's tuna carpaccio so much. It is indeed excellent for my taste.

#52 diddy

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 02:29 PM

I'm going here this sometime this week for dinner. What's the dress code like there? Would a shirt and tie and a cocktail dress seem out of place?

#53 Banco

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 03:34 PM

That would be fine.

#54 ScotteeM

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:57 PM

I recommend against tank top, cutoffs and flip-flops, but pretty much anything neat and clean goes. Some folks really dress up, and some are quite casual, with all the in-betweens. Some of it depends on the occasion or other activities before or after dinner.

Dona Animella


#55 The Hersch

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 01:54 PM

Gee, I see I haven't posted anything about Kinkead's since early last year! Today I had lunch at the bar, as I often do, and it was emphatically the best lunch I've had in a long, long time. To begin, a cream of asparagus soup with lumps of crabmeat and creme fraiche, and all I can do to convey its quality is to ask you to imagine a cream of asparagus soup with lumps of crabmeat and creme fraiche that is a sort of Platonic ideal of that soup, with those lumps, and that cream. I followed that with a softshelled crab, which was listed as an appetizer, but I can't imagine consuming that plate of food and then going on to something more substantial. Just one crab, but large, pristine, sweet, and crisply batter-fried, sitting on a pool of an astonishing butter sauce with whole roasted garlic cloves and a dab of mashed potato, and off to the side an immense tangle of delicately lacy, batter-dipped, perfectly fried, shoestring-thin onion rings. Kinkead's is obviously expensive, but at $15 that was a serious bargain. If you've been wondering about Kinkead's, I suggest you go there and have the softshell and thrill to the experience of having all doubts erased.

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#56 DonRocks

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:52 PM

I dropped by the morgue that used to be Kinkead's last night at 8:30, only to find a completely empty bar (save for one other couple), and a skeletal staff that was wanting to be anywhere else but there. However, an order of Blue Hill Bay Mussels ($15) with rosemary, Pommery mustard, and cream was as good as any mussel dish I've had in recent memory, with only about 12-18 small, intensely flavorful mussels bathing in a large bowl of creamy broth which was perfect for soaking up the breads in the basket (mediocre other than the excellent soda bread). I can't emphasize enough how superior these small mussels are to the giant, uniform, tasteless versions you find all over town these days. The farm-raised giants are the aquatic equivalent to steroid-stuffed Purdue chicken breasts. Again, I realize these little ones are probably farm-raised too, but there's still a big difference in quality.

Knowing the staff wanted to get out of there, I paid my bill and left at 8:58 PM. On the way out, I noticed a sign - clearly posted on the door - saying the restaurant would close "promptly at 9 PM." And yet, another pair of people had strolled into the bar at 8:50. Ouch!

Cheers,
Rocks.

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#57 The Hersch

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 03:13 PM

On December 6, 2008, a five-month-old dog came to live with me. Because ever since I've been running home for lunch so I can take her outside for a bit, I haven't been having my once-every-week-or-two lunch at Kinkead's. Today, I decided to stretch my lunch hour a little and do both: luncheon at Kinkead's and go home to take Kiko outside. It was nice returning to the bar after a longish absence, and of course not much had changed, as Kinkead's doesn't change very much--which is good, because what they are and what they do are so good. Kinkead's obviously specializes in seafood, and that's usually what I order, but today other things on the menu struck my fancy. One of their specials today was an onion soup gratinée, which not only struck but tickled my fancy, so I started with that. It arrived in short order in a little covered tureen, which the waiter uncovered for me. Inside was a liquid so richly and intensely flavorful that I may never forget it. A couple of croutes and melted gruyere cheese in restrained measure nestled within. I believe I detected a little vinegar in the broth, although I suppose the acidity could have come entirely from wine, but at any rate it served admirably to balance the sweetness of the onions, which can overwhelm an onion soup. I managed to refrain from licking the bowl when I was done, but it was a close thing. I followed this with ravioli filled with a fava bean puree and goat cheese, in a bowl with a generous sprinkling of whole fresh favas and a sun-dried-tomato sauce. The ravioli were very, very good, as Kinkead's ravioli have always been in my experience. The tomato was rather too assertive, tending to upstage the delicacy of the favas and pasta; a light little sauce of barely cooked fresh tomato would have provided better balance, if a tomato with any flavor could be found in April. These two dishes were both starters, but two starters at Kinkead's are almost always more than enough for lunch; sometimes one is. Together, they cost $22, before wine, tax, and tip. A fairly expensive lunch (especially compared with the cost of the sandwich I would have made myself at home), but not really extravagant, and it contributes to the economic recovery, after all.

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#58 The Hersch

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 11:13 AM

Back on May 13th in the Legal Seafoods thread, Rocks made the following comment:

On a related note, a trusted (but not 100% guaranteed) source tells me that Kinkead's has eliminated the position of Wine Director, which, if true, is stunning news flying very quietly under the radar...

Is there any confirmation of this? If this turns out to be the case, does it mean Kinkead's is withdrawing from the fine-dining echelon of restaurants? And if so, will they do so forthrightly, introducing a substantially new menu with substantially lower prices? Or cynically and dishonestly, by cutting quality and service but pretending to be the same Kinkead's, and charging the traditionally high Kinkead's prices? Either the forthright or the cynical scenario would be a shame, although the latter would be a downright crying shame. I was thinking of taking my dear mother to lunch there sometime soon, as I'm having some health-related time off from my job and she has wanted to go there for a long time. She's a big fan of crabcakes, and I have been telling her for years that Kinkead's are as good as any in the world. I'd really rather not take my mother out for something special and be embarrassed by something not special. Any news?

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#59 ScotteeM

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:20 PM

Anybody been recently? Our last visit was a couple of years ago, and we had the Grand Selection, which was served with out-of-season Pasteurized lump crab meat--not that great. I have fond memories of this place from years ago, but no current input. Should we go to Kinkeads, or out to PassionFish in Reston?

Dona Animella


#60 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:56 PM

Anybody been recently? Our last visit was a couple of years ago, and we had the Grand Selection, which was served with out-of-season Pasteurized lump crab meat--not that great. I have fond memories of this place from years ago, but no current input. Should we go to Kinkeads, or out to PassionFish in Reston?

My Gawd....get thee to PassionFish. At its best, Kinkead's was never what PassionFish is. This is our seafood temple, and Jeff Tunks 'gets it'....

I've been in Washington for some three decades. Originally I had to go to Crisfield's to get good seafood. Then there was Vincenzo, near Adams Morgan, with its unique dishing of Italian seafood. Then there was Kinkaid's with all of Bob's surliness, but the run was relatively brief. The staff adds absolutely nothing to the experience. Nothing now compares to PassionFish and we are fortunate to be in its presence. You would even be hard-pressed to find better sushi, let alone seafood.

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#61 alan7147

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:15 PM

My Gawd....get thee to PassionFish. At its best, Kinkead's was never what PassionFish is. This is our seafood temple, and Jeff Tunks 'gets it'....

I've been in Washington for some three decades. Originally I had to go to Crisfield's to get good seafood. Then there was Vincenzo, near Adams Morgan, with its unique dishing of Italian seafood. Then there was Kinkaid's with all of Bob's surliness, but the run was relatively brief. The staff adds absolutely nothing to the experience. Nothing now compares to PassionFish and we are fortunate to be in its presence. You would even be hard-pressed to find better sushi, let alone seafood.

Well....Did you know that my son plays T-ball with Bob Kinkead's son and I happen to think that Kinkead's blows PassionFish away.

If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight, and if not split and reevaluate." - Sun Tzu


#62 hmmboy

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 09:10 AM

My Gawd....get thee to PassionFish. At its best, Kinkead's was never what PassionFish is. This is our seafood temple, and Jeff Tunks 'gets it'....

I've been in Washington for some three decades. Originally I had to go to Crisfield's to get good seafood. Then there was Vincenzo, near Adams Morgan, with its unique dishing of Italian seafood. Then there was Kinkaid's with all of Bob's surliness, but the run was relatively brief. The staff adds absolutely nothing to the experience. Nothing now compares to PassionFish and we are fortunate to be in its presence. You would even be hard-pressed to find better sushi, let alone seafood.

I've also been here for 3 decades and have eaten at all those places (can recall many a night at the bar at the original Crisfield's woofing down raw oysters and fried seafood). I have great respect for both Kinkeads and Passion Fish, but for me Blacksalt is the best seafood restaurant this city has ever seen. And my son is too old to play with Jeff Black's kids.
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

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#63 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 11:05 AM

Well....Did you know that my son plays T-ball with Bob Kinkead's son and I happen to think that Kinkead's blows PassionFish away.

I applaud your taste in youth sports. But not your taste in seafood....

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No, I eat my fingers separately.


#64 dcs

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 06:18 AM

When we go to Kinkead's it has generally been mid-week and we have no trouble finding a space at the bar at 6pm. At 6pm last night, we nicked the last two places at the bar. The food was very good, however, management really needs to read the event listings and when there is an event at the Smith Center (Bob Dylan) and Lisner Auditorium (Sarah Vowell) they need to put extra staff behind the bar. As best I could tell there was only one full-time bartender (there seemed to be a second one earlier on but he appeared to have drifted off to other tasks) and limited barback support. The poor guy fought the good fight, but there was really too much to do. He did suffer the pace, however, in good spirits. I have also found this consistently to be a very friendly bar with strangers often striking up easy conversations with each other.

#65 Cmmp

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 09:16 AM

I haven't been back here in 3 or 4 years, but we had tickets to Dave Sedaris at the Lizner, so this seemed like the best solution. I had always looked forward to going to Kindead's (and Colvin Run and 21 Federal) in the past and was eager to see how it was holding up. My memories were that each of the operations was highly professional, the kitchens put out good to exceptional food consistently, and the service was nothing but professional, giving the impression of a well trained team.

Take into account that it was a Monday night, maybe not the most hopping or high energy evening. The good - the kitchen didn't miss a trick - our salads and mains (halibut, tuna) were wonderful and reminded me of why I'd enjoyed this place in the past. We had a good view of the kitchen and while the team works well together and pumps out the orders, (now moving on to the not-so-good) why are they still using the highly distracting intercom system to communicate downstairs? Also, everyone on the second floor passes right by the open kitchen/expediting area, but I don't remember it looking less than well-ordered. Now it simply appears cluttered, like someone isn't paying enough attention to realize that EVERYONE walks by area. The runners worked hard and showed a high degree of knowledge and geniality. Our server was distracted. We didn't see him much, he'd walk by us a few times without checking in. Not that we need it all the time, but we wanted to order another round of drinks/wine, get our check, and we waited and finally had to flag down another server each time. The hosts also seemed a bit laconic. BTW - great, very well done drinks.

Desserts - they need to pay more attention to their dessert prep - it something is billed as warm, it should be warm. The tastes were all fine, but most of the selections appeared dated.

Overall - several highlights, but not the professional, high and tight product that we know that Bob Kinkaead can offer. The word that describes the experience best - tired.

#66 dcs

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 09:39 AM

I haven't been back here in 3 or 4 years, but we had tickets to Dave Sedaris at the Lizner, so this seemed like the best solution.

Say hi next time. :) We were at the bar. Kinkead's has become our go-to before Lisner events, as options are limited in that part of town (whatever you call it). We tend towards the bar menu, oysters, and small plates off the regular menu and they suit us just fine. $7 for 1/2 dozen oysters from 5pm to 6:30pm and $6 for two shrimp tacos off the bar menu are but two examples of some good values you can find here. The curried duck spring rolls on the bar menu for $10 were also pretty good, although in some cases the curry distribution was somewhat uneven. The service at the bar was pleasant, attentive, and efficient, during what I would agree was a fairly sleepy early evening here. Sedaris was hilarious, as usual.

#67 The Hersch

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 11:52 AM

$7 for 1/2 dozen oysters from 5pm to 6:30pm and $6 for two shrimp tacos off the bar menu are but two examples of some good values you can find here.

You'd think they'd use these specials to lure customers to their restaurant. Not a peep about them on their website.

that part of town (whatever you call it)

Foggy Bottom is the conventional name.

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#68 collije

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:27 PM

Kinkeads just announced on Twitter that they're closing on 12/22/12.

#69 DonRocks

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:35 PM

Kinkeads just announced on Twitter that they're closing on 12/22/12.


I'm sorry to hear this. If you go to their website, and click on "News and Events," you get an announcement about Summer 2011 Restaurant Week.

This is the passing of a Washington, DC institution.

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#70 Joe H

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:06 PM

Wow! Way up north in this thread I talk about my wife and I celebrating our first New Year's Eve at Kinkead's: twenty years ago!

A great restaurant that was wonderful for D. C.

...and us.

Thank you, Bob.

#71 sheldman

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:13 PM

A great restaurant that was wonderful for D. C.

...and us.


Agreed. No restaurant lasts forever, but I really appreciate the part that Kinkead's played in my experience of Washington.

#72 lekkerwijn

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:29 PM

Agreed. No restaurant lasts forever, but I really appreciate the part that Kinkead's played in my experience of Washington.


Same here. An iconic restaurant for people watching. I was once there for dinner and we were seated at a table next to Senator Ted Kennedy and a group of female interns.

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#73 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:38 AM

When I arrived in this area more than 30 years ago, quality seafood restaurants were few and far between. There was Vincenzo, which offered high end Italian seafood, and Crisfield's, which was diner-esque, and then very little else. I think Kinkead's pioneered the transformation of Washington DC into a fairly credible place to get a good seafood meal.

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#74 The Hersch

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:11 AM

I feel like crying.

Tell me, thou little bird that singest,

Who taught my grief to thee?


#75 Davo99

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

Thanks to Chef Kinkead for many memorable meals at his restaurant. As an aside, I wonder if he is merely stating the obvious after the Mayan doomsday....

#76 Pat

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:46 AM

From Tom's chat today:

NEWS FLASH: After a run of nearly 20 years, “the cafeteria of the Clinton Administration” and longtime No. 1 Zagat-rated restaurant in Washington -- Kinkead's -- is closing December 22, announces its top chef and owner, Bob Kinkead.

“The lease is up” in February, explains the recipient of the 1995 Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award from the James Beard Foundation. Kinkead plans to turn out the lights of his 11,000 square foot, 245-seat seafood behemoth in Foggy Bottom after dinner Dec. 22, in part to give his 95 staff members Christmas off.

While some online observers were calling it the end of an era, Kinkead does not plan to retire. “I can’t,” financially, he says. Indeed, he may use part of the soon-to-be-empty space for his next idea, which he hints will feature “Mediterranean-Italian twists on what I do.”

“I’m a big believer in restaurants having a shelf life.”

The news of the impending closure was released prematurely last night via Twitter, by a manager who will be “severely disciplined” today, says the veteran restaurateur.



#77 ladi kai lemoni

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:10 PM

This is sad news, indeed. This is where I had dinner with my parents on my 21st birthday, and I still remember the swordfish I got.

I wish Bob well, and hope that he doesn't go far away because his name is indeed part of DC's restaurant lore.

Alex

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#78 adjen

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:45 PM

I had lunch at Kinkeads last week and was told (when lamenting the closing to my server) that, while the restaurant was closing on Dec. 22, it would be re-opening in a different but not-very-far-away location several weeks later.

#79 dcs

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

The next step, which could be good news for patrons of the Kennedy Center.



#80 Banco

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:53 PM

The next step, which could be good news for patrons of the Kennedy Center.

 

If this happens it might just make me believe in a benevolent deity. The lack of dining options near the Kennedy Center is a disgrace, but even worse is the fact that the one option that has existed (600/Rivers) has always been a mismanaged farce of Fawlty-esque proportions with mediocre, overpriced food. Lord be praised.



#81 darkstar965

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:13 PM

If this happens it might just make me believe in a benevolent deity. The lack of dining options near the Kennedy Center is a disgrace, but even worse is the fact that the one option that has existed (600/Rivers) has always been a mismanaged farce of Fawlty-esque proportions with mediocre, overpriced food. Lord be praised.

 

Totally agree.   As much as I have loved Kinkeads for a long time, I was feeling like it was getting dated and losing ground so many newer places around town.  The idea of Chef Kinkead doing a new, modern, refreshed "mediterranean" version of "what [he] does" is very interesting and big news.


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