It depends on the composition, but generally in a night shot you might have, in the frame, one or several street lamps, or some details such as walls near the street lamp which are very bright, and then all shades of grey down to absolute night black.
The problem here is that although it is perfectly acceptable to have the light source itself out of the film's dynamic range, I personally consider that for the picture to be nice all the highlights which are not light sources (or specular reflections) should not be washed up.
My normal way of operation would be to measure those important highlights (the wall near the street lamp) and try to capture it correctly, letting the shadow fall into black where the film dynamic range dictates.
You can repeat the example above with a white marble fašade possibly lit by a spot flood lamp, a statue on top of a fountain lit by a spot flood lamp, that kind of stuff.
Sometimes historical buildings are lighted in a way which highlights certain architectural features. For instance some flood lights are pointed upward to make a chiaroscuro play with the tympani over the windows, or the lower decoration of the cornice.
In the pictures shown above, Saint Peter's clock and Saint Peter's square northern fountain, from the place where I was (Piazza Pio XII, that's actually in Italy, the place where I was was obviously less lighted than my subject) I couldn't walk to the fountain (Piazza San Pietro was off-limits) and couldn't walk inside the colonnade to try to measure the light with an incident light meter. I also could not fly to the clock which is lit by some spot lights and you have to be there to use an incident light meter. In that clock case using the light meter in the camera would give a useless average between black night and lighted architectural elements. A "table" exposure with some bracketing would have been the less-worse option.
To sum it up in one line, the bigger problem while taking pictures at night might be not your subject but the strongly lit wall behind it. Incident metering will not help you avoid washing it or understanding what might happen there.
I can propose an example which, being taken with a digital camera, it's even more telling of how disastrous can digital be in a high contrast situation:
As you can see there is a "white hole" in the picture which I personally find quite unfortunate. And unfortunately enough, that square has street lamps strategically fixed on buildings so that it is impossible to take a picture without a street lamp in the frame
Even if the picture is digital, it shows a situation where incident light metering would not help avoiding the problem. With a spot meter one could measure the wall near the lamp, place it on the "top" of the film curve, and examine where would the shadows of the fountain fall. Some recesses of the fountain would be sacrificed (falling into pure black) but the background would be much more gracefully rendered, with the tone of the building being preserved behind the fountain, and only the light source itself being blown up. Which means I have to go back there with film and a spot meter.
For the architecturally curious, the subject is the Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei: