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Incanto's Sheep Neck

t
toddanthonydirect Jun 16, 2008 03:40 PM

I sent to Incanto the other night with my wife and kids and had a pretty bad experience. The waiter looked put-out by having "kids" there and us not ordering much wine. Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe his girlfriend/boyfriend just dumped him. Maybe he just stubbed his toe on the oven. I don't really care. He was a wanker.

I ordered the sheep neck and had high hopes for a nice rich satisfying meal. The thing was DISGUSTING. Absolutely nasty. They seem to have a thing at Incanto about putting odd cuts on the menu. They are part of this "eat the whole animal" movement. I don't think our taste buds are thusly prepared for that experience here in America. The first bite of Neck contained a fairly large tendon that I thought I might be able to chew through. Nope. Had to ptewie it out into my napkin. The meat was grisley and the skin was (explative here) gross.

  1. wolfe Jun 16, 2008 04:13 PM

    Apparently you missed Sisiutl's review. I warn you the 3 of us may be in the minority.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/52459...

    1. Bianco Caldo Calore Jun 16, 2008 04:18 PM

      I can understand why you are upset, rude service is intollerable, at Denny's or a Michelin Star winner,however;

      1. You had to know what you were getting into at Incanto, offal centric menu, etc.
      2. Not exactly what I would call a, "family" restaurant.
      3. Give them one more try, share your concerns from your previous visit, and I would bet magic will happen for you.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bianco Caldo Calore
        s
        sugartoof Jun 16, 2008 04:56 PM

        I disagree, there is no reason families have to go to "family restaurants". Exposing children to high end dining is one of the really great privileged things one can do for their family, up there with letting them thumb through your classic books, or taking them to a museum. One would think a place like Incanto should go out of their way to make children feel welcome if only to reintroduce offal for a new generation. I know I was much more open minded towards sweet breads and such as a child then I am today. ( I'm assuming we're talking about well behaved kids here)

        It doesn't matter how prepared you are for Incanto, if you can't chew through the meat, or it's gamey to the point of questioned freshness, then it's a problem. No reason to give that a second chance. The menu isn't suited for everyone, but once patrons find something on the menu that does fit their comfort level, the food should be edible without concern. I'd also argue that the point of a challenging menu is lost if it fails to convert it's customers.

        1. re: Bianco Caldo Calore
          Euonymous Jun 16, 2008 04:56 PM

          I've taken my kids (now 9 and 12) to Incanto four or five times now and never had a problem. So far their favorite things are the Bucatini with Sardinian cured tuna heart and the lamb's neck. It's quite a sight to behold them digging into it.

          1. re: Bianco Caldo Calore
            susancinsf Jun 17, 2008 08:47 PM

            I am not sure I would call Incanto a family restaurant either, whatever that means, but FWIW I have seen kids at Incanto every single time I've eaten there (at least five times, perhaps more).

            1. re: Bianco Caldo Calore
              t
              toddanthonydirect Jun 17, 2008 11:06 PM

              Well, we had eaten there before with the kids and it was good. I should have mentioned that. I wouldn't mind giving it another try. We might.

            2. t
              Truffle Dog Jun 16, 2008 04:33 PM

              I personally found the lamb neck dish to be among my favorite things at Incanto. It had a very nice meaty lamb flavor without being offensively gamey, and mine was nice and tender. I do remember a piece of tendon, but I think that may be unavoidable with necks. Just goes to show that everyone has his or her own taste.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Truffle Dog
                Scott M Jun 16, 2008 04:50 PM

                I have to agree. I am not a big fan of Incanto and do not subscribe to the endless acclamation it receives on this forum. For me, the food was solid but unspectacular. With that said, besides the dessert the lamb neck was the only other highlight of the evening. The meat was fork tender, not gamey, and very satisfying. It is the one item I would go back to enjoy again.

                1. re: Truffle Dog
                  t
                  toddanthonydirect Jun 17, 2008 11:07 PM

                  You know, what you describe there is what I was hoping for. What I got was charred on the outside and super greasy on the inside. With tendons. So maybe we just got unlucky all the way around.

                2. Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2008 06:02 PM

                  When I had the lamb neck, it was delicious, one of the most memorable dishes I've had there. I think they warned me that the tendons were inedible.

                  If you're put off by offal, why did you order it?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    wolfe Jun 16, 2008 07:15 PM

                    My source for what is offal does not include skeletal muscle like neck.
                    http://www.offalgood.com/site/what-is...

                    1. re: wolfe
                      w
                      wally Jun 16, 2008 08:10 PM

                      I was thinking that also.

                  2. Cindy Jun 17, 2008 09:54 AM

                    We took both our boys there a few months ago (ages 6 and 8). While not our usual family restaurant with crayons and plastic sippy cups, both boys behaved themselves and I felt we were well-treated. The kitchen made the handmade pasta sans ragu (for younger son who won't eat tomatoes) and used a butter sauce instead. The mounds of freshly shaved parmesan really make his dish yummy.

                    They loved the breadsticks. Older son at 8 has a remarkable palate and loved everything, including the gnocchi with mint sauce.

                    I didn't have the lamb's neck this time, but when I did, it was almost the complete opposite experience of OP. I'm not really into offal, but it was a good lamb's dish, although very righ and too much meat for me.

                    You might have had an off night, as well as an off waiter. Incanto isn't really a kids' restaurant, but I wouldn't say that they are kid-unfriendly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cindy
                      t
                      toddanthonydirect Jun 17, 2008 06:55 PM

                      Yeah, I actually called them and asked it they would consider themselves kid friendly and they said yes.

                    2. rworange Jun 17, 2008 02:43 PM

                      link

                      -----
                      Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                      1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                      1. steve h. Jun 17, 2008 08:55 PM

                        i like incanto. a lot. maybe my favorite restaurant in san francisco. sorry it didn't work out for you. that's just the way it goes.

                        1. a
                          Armoise Jun 18, 2008 05:47 PM

                          It may be an execution problem as well as a server problem. I had a similar experience with a grilled octopus which was way under cooked, far too chewy. The server told us it was because it was a full-grown octopus and not a baby octopus. I have eaten grilled octopus (not baby) at many Greek restaurants, as well as having cooked it myself. It requires ample slow braising before you put it on the grill, or it is tough.
                          The right response from the restaurant should have been to check whether that dish was cooked to their own standard—we left quite a lot on the plate as it was too hard to chew, even though tasty. I really love Incanto's food, but it sounds like their servers need to learn how to deal with the occasional "misfires" from the kitchen.
                          I also think the servers could offer to serve the edible portion after presenting the whole dish, as is sometimes done when a whole fish is cooked on the bone. Some folks are not adept at separating the edible from inedible parts.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Armoise
                            s
                            sugartoof Jun 18, 2008 07:29 PM

                            "The server told us it was because it was a full-grown octopus and not a baby octopus"

                            But that sounds as if they were giving you a reason the dish wasn't up to spec, rather then replacing it, which suggests it's acceptable to serve undercooked chewy octopus. I have a hard time believing that patronizing attitude isn't just coming from the management/kitchen. If it's on the menu it should be cooked properly. Incanto seems to have some quality control issues that people tend to excuse because of the concept of the restaurant.

                            1. re: Armoise
                              Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2008 10:42 AM

                              I've had lots of quickly-grilled mature octopus that wasn't braised first. It's chewy. I like it that way.

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