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Oct 30, 2007 08:01 PM

Quinn's, Capitol Hill, Seattle

I tried Quinn's today and can relay the following report/impressions:

-- overall, the food was excellent. We tried: the soft-boiled duck egg with boquerones, the cheese gougeres, the pear/stilton/frisee salad, the duck & duck rillettes, the braised oxtail/gnocchi/crispy marrow, the wild boar "sloppy joe" with crispy sage and onions, the smoked hangar steak & frites, and the green bean/pickled onion/radish side. I think the biggest surprise was that I did not expect this to be a small plates restaurant -- this made the prices seem like less of a good value than I had expected initially from scanning the menu. None of the "plates" would stand alone as an entree (N.B. I did not try the 8 oz. burger (there's always time for burgers)) and for three of us, the food we ordered was maybe just barely enough. The clear standout was the oxtail -- the meat was rich, flavorful, and thoughtfully prepared, the gnocchi were light and delicate, and the marrow -- a thick round balanced on the top of the dish -- was lightly crisped, perfectly salted, a marvel of cholesterol-laden, umami goodness. The salad was excellent. We couldn't figure out what the two "ducks" were in the "duck & duck" rillette -- it seemed like just a duck rillette, served traditionally with grilled bread and pickled red onions. The green beans, even at $6, were a small portion for the value and cost to the kitchen, and the duck egg - a single egg split with a single sliced boquerone carefully partitioned over each half -- was pricey even at $5. The hangar steak and frites was delicious but again small (I couldn't help comparing the similarly-priced entrees at Le Pichet). The "sloppy joe" was a generous portion of ground boar served open-faced on a sesame seed bun with crispy fried sage, thinly-sliced deep-fried onions, and a deep-fried jalapeno on top. Of all of these, only the oxtail was something I'd return for, but all of the items made me eager to try the rest of the menu.

-- The space is gorgeous and feels like it's been there forever. Instantly comfortable, reasonably good acoustics, casual but not thrown together.

-- The cocktails -- both the specialty cocktails and the cocktails we had when we sat down, were extremely good and pleasingly strong. The specialty list offered a nice take on some classics without pretension.

-- The service was friendly and overall decent, although occasionally, as it got busy, it became difficult to get second drinks. This could have something to do with the fact that the restaurant is not even a week old.

As a long-time, cranky Capitol Hill resident, it's nice to have a destination restaurant for food right on the Hill -- I hope Quinn's stays friendly and low-key.

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  1. Thanks for the writeup. I don't see it listed on google yet, what's the address or cross streets?

    2 Replies
    1. re: landguy

      It's 1001 East Pike, next to Cafe Vita and across from Neumo's.

      1. re: landguy

        it's where the mexican restaurant on the corner was for eons! It's a great addition to the hill! It's so nice to have all these choices ...

      2. I concur. Excellent food. Great location. Portions didn't bother me. Enjoyed my rabbit pate with course ground mustard immensely, and the sauteed spinach with currants and pine nuts was great. The only off note was some orange (? I think ) rinds that had marinated in the olives that I thought were maybe cheese -- not edible and probably should have been fished out before serving.

        Also, check your bill carefully. We were only 3 and there was an 18% grat included. Not sure if that was a fluke or a policy, but it surprised us.

        Unfortunately, I predict this place will get mobbed when it starts getting media attention. Hopefully once the trendy wave passes, it'll settle in as an accessible neighborhood joint.

        1. Good report. I had a similar experience:

          Portions: Some seemed huge - fish & chips, burger, crispy chicken; while some were teeny - duck rillette, gnocchi. All dishes were listed under the "entree" category on the menu though, so you expect similarly sized plates. They should probably break them into small plate/large plate categories

          The good: gnocchi with oxtail - too bad it was a teeny portion

          The bad: Fries - soggy, gooey on the inside, sorely lacking crispiness on the outside. Gastropub, really? I think fries - gastro or not - are a key part of pub fare. Hopefully they'll make some adjustments here.

          And the ugly: While our server was OK (it was busy, we had a wait a tad too long at times), the manager threw her squarely under the bus when he came over while she was explaining some of the menu items before taking our order and said, "I need to borrow your server. There is an emergency." Expecting to see smoke coming out the kitchen or an ambulance pulling up, the "emergency" was something to do with one of her other tables and a missed dish/check/whatever. Clearly NOT an emergency, clearly not something that a) the manager could have figured out on his own or b) he could have waited 1 minute 45 seconds until the server had taken our order. It took another several minutes before she returned and (clearly under some pressure now) didn't want to chat - just wanted our order. Why the manager decided to do this is beyond me and why he couldn't have just taken over and taken our order also is, well...confuddling.

          I'll give it another shot - the prices on wine were good, they have some good beers on tap and the burger looked pink, juicy and delicious. Hopefully they'll get the fries figured out though, because as my husband pointed out, "If the fries aren't good, it really isn't a good burger is it?"

          1. my husband and i went to quinns on a saturday night recently. we were very happy with everything. we had the duck egg, the sloppy joe, a hamburger and fries, and some meatball shooters. as well as some fine beers on tap.

            the sloppy joe is something special. it is made from wild boar, served on fresh brioche, and has some crispy fried shallots on top. every bite was better than the last, and i have been thinking of this tasty treat ever since.

            the hamburger is made from wagyu, and you will have a plateful of meat juice once you have eaten it, that is how juicy this burger is.

            the fries were crisp and delicious.

            the egg was yummy, and the shooters were made from house made sausage, and were very good.

            we will be back very soon.

            6 Replies
            1. re: princessteenymeat

              The burger was excellent! My only issue was that it was more medium-rare and I ordered medium. Ground beef I like a bit more cooked. With that said, I STILL really enjoyed it, and we ate all the fries as well. I did not feel that the portion was too small at all (in fact, others finished my fries for me). We also had the cheese gougeres - yummy!

              However, the best part was the service. There were some shaky parts like taking my fries when I said I wanted to keep them... they returned in a to-go box, which I just opened and passed on to the rest of the folks at the table. However, they were SO good about letting us stay late - celebrating a b-day party. And we showed up there without reservations, but they made space for us! It was excellent!

              Everyone was super friendly and food was great! We're going for another birthday tonight... and I'm looking forward to trying the oxtail! Somebody commented on them adding a bone marrow appetizer... I hope so! I miss Craigie Street Bistrot's (Boston restaurant) appetizer. I'd love to have some place to for it here!

              1. re: sheitoon

                have you tried the bone marrow at Cremant?

                1. re: barleywino

                  Is the bone marrow at Cremant better now than it was when it first opened? I'm thinking I need to get back there.

                    1. re: barleywino

                      Looks like I'll have to check it out and report!

                2. re: sheitoon

                  Got the oxtail last night and it was delicious! I had a taste of my friend's wild boar sloppy joe, and I can't say that I loved it... it was too tomato-y for me. It also had a RIDICULOUSLY hot jalopeno on top... I'm sure they didn't do that on purpose though.

                  They did keep running out of the bottles of wine they had, but the replacement suggestions they made were good (except for one). Service was very good again, which was nice. We also had the duck egg - highly recommended! I think it was only $3, but I could be wrong.

              2. So, we went back to Quinn's for another visit tonight, and I'm happy to report that I think they're getting their sea legs and, with an updated menu, it's clear they have magnificent back-up ideas to surpass their magnificent original ideas.

                First, let me say -- it's striking the extent to which the place instantly looks like it's been an integral part of the neighborhood for decades. I think they hit the bulls-eye for what the area needed.

                Second, some of their new menu ideas are inspired. The "grilled" romaine salad was something new to me. The great grilled flavor of a meat dish -- but on your salad. Awesome. Best salad I've ever had, perhaps.

                And the deconstructed clam chowder had amazing flavor. My only complaint is that it wasn't accompanied by bread to sop up all the sauce. (We sopped it up with a spoon.)

                Keep up the good work, y'all. (Former Texan, here.)

                1 Reply
                1. re: jjmccoy

                  We tried Quinn's for the first time last night, and had a marvelous dinner! My favorites were, of course, the pear/walnut/frisee salad and the incredibly decadent oxtail/marrow/gnocchi dishes. Our server was incredibly friendly, made a wonderful wine recommendation and told me that Quinn's is currently considering a plate of marrow bones and bread for their menu. Perfect! We also loved the lemon creme brulee and the side of citrus zest that came with our after-dinner espresso.

                  My only criticism would have to be the same as jjmccoy - they need to offer bread or something else to sop up the sauces. Otherwise, it's an instant favorite and sure to become a regular for many of my friends.