After hearing so much great stuff about Kevin's (277 Van Brunt St. between Pioneer St. & Visitation Pl., 718-596-8335) I decided to check it out for dinner recently. It's BYOB, so make sure you come with a bottle of wine since pickings are slim in that neighborhood since LeNell's shut down earlier this year. It's a small, kinda quirky place that felt a little odd to me. It seems like it should be cozier, since the staff are SO nice and a lot of thought has gone into the place (having compostable take-out containers and bags for leftovers), but it feels a little bland, which unfortunately, was the overall impression we had with our food as well.
After we were seated, they brought us some Amuse Bouche of Eggplant Bruschetta which was a nice touch and were fairly tasty, but nothing too exciting. One for each of us at the table.
I started with the Corn Shrimp Chowder which was really good. Made with a tomato base and not as creamy as I'm used to, I was happily surprised by the spicy undertones, tender pieces of shrimp and kernels of corn.
The best dish of the night however, was the Fried Calamari my step-father ordered. This was really fantastic and we were all exclaiming how good it was. Big pieces of really fresh, juicy calamari, breaded and fried, but not greasy at all, were piled high upon the plate. The dish of marinara sauce served on the side was underwhelming, but the calamari were so good, a squeeze of lemon was all it needed. By far some of the best around of this dish!
But that's as good as it got. The entrees were very bland and disappointing. Perhaps as they settle in and get their groove on, Kevin's will improve and everything will be as good as the appetizers (and apparently, the brunch), but it hasn't happened yet. I chose the Raffetto's Pappardelle with julienne vegetables and sun-dried tomato cream. It was pretty bland and needed a lot of salt to make it interesting. Even the sun-dried tomatoes seemed a little plain and in need of some garlic and olive oil.
My mom ordered the Ciopinno fish stew over rice, with mussels, shrimp and scallops. Again, underwhelming and bland. It was loaded with pieces of fish and was quite a substantial portion, but some more flavoring would've been nice.
My boyfriend picked a curried fish dish with tomatoes, spinach and onions. This too was shockingly bland. I mean, c'mon, bland curry? It was so sad because we really wanted to like this place a lot, and I guess we sort of did, since it was so nice and the appetizers were so good. Like I said, maybe it'll settle in and start to shine.
I've mostly heard about their brunch and how they have the best pancakes around, so I'm definitely going back to try them, but I'm not so sure how soon I'll be back for dinner.