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Quinn's Steakhouse on a coupon- Sheraton Centre Bay &Queen

$25 for $50 plus $12.60 tax and tip on $48 bill plus $6 parking. No joy here.

Quinn's Steakhouse and Bar is part of a small chain of restaurants; most are Irish themed. The other places are P.J. O'Brien, The Irish Embassy and Shopy's.

Quinn's Steakhouse has pride of place. It bears the owner's name and it is the most expensive. It caters to feinschmeckers, those people whose discriminating tastes demand that the establishment stock over 200 different kinds of whiskey and offers a twelve ounce meat and veg plate of such quality in ingredients and preparation that it costs $34. Without a sauce. That's extra, $4-8.

My steak dinner was amazing. Well, surprising, anyway. I described it in the email to Quinn's, reproduced below.
I was restrained in the email and went after only one item, the dessert. I didn't want a management that might be defensive to think me a crank. I sent the email twice; each time to both the owner's personal address and to the corporate address. I have not been favoured with a reply.

Now I will supplement the email.

My meal
12oz ribeye steak, on top of garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables $34
sauteed broccolini rabe, enough for one $7
pecan double chocolate tart with orange confit $7
The menu at the bottom says that all prices are net. Does this mean before or after tax? What do you think?

Steak. The dictionary definition of "succulent" is: tender, juicy and tasty. It is a good word to describe a good steak. My steak was tender, it did taste of beef, but no big deal. It was dry. The cooking was bad. I a ked for medium rare. What I got was a steak cooked variably in its parts to an average of medium.
The potatoes I understand are "pre-made" and the garlic flavouring is part of the pre-making. The pre-made stuff is supplemented with "real" potatoes.
The potato puree had a babyfoood like texture and was watery. I could not differentiate between the pre-made and the "real" potato components. The garlic taste was inconsistent in strength in the various parts of the plop, but it was always harsh. It began as too strong even for me, and I am Polish. I can't imagine how it could have gone with some of the sauces offered for the steak.

Look. Quinn's is an expensive steak house, the flagship operation, named after the owner, who is Irish. I am entitled to expect a good potato side on a meat and potato dish. I don't know how Quinn the proprietor can serve what he does. Sure, he has staff and staff screw up, but doesn't he eat there once in a while? I would be incapable of serving such crap to anyone except at a homeless shelter, let alone giving my name to it. Then there would be the garlic problem with the "English" clientele.

The vegetables including the broccolini were excellent.

The pecan double chocolate tart was disgusting.

I chose the tart because it was the only thing on the menu that wasn't white. Also, I like this sort of thing. It provided by description a bit of tartness, fruitiness and astringency to go against what I had had previously.

I believe that the tart came from Sysco. It would be appropriate at a Chinese buffet in the evening when they charge more. But it showed up at Quinn's as dessert for a $34 steak plate (sauce extra) and was badly handled to boot. Another homeless shelter item.

The tart is described on the internet menu as coming with orange confit. I forget how it is described on the card. The confit idea is nice and suggests that the establishment cares. There was no orange confit. There was the standard graffiti- like drizzled swoop of chocolate sauce, here tasting coarse and industrial. All the tastes and textures in the tart were clumsy and suggested that management didn't give a shit.

The tart was composed as follows.
A soggy cardboard-like base which was overcome by the filling, except at the rim, where it was firm and tasted stale.
A thin pecan pie like gel layer that was overcome by the chocolate cake layer on top. The bottom layer was cool and only emphasized the overly sweet taste of the cake top layer.
Then a thick chocolate cake layer which was just heavy tasting warm mush.
The bit of hardened molten chocolate on top disappeared in the yuckiness.
The pecans were soft and had been stripped of their character top notes.

I had the feeling that I had been taken as a sucker.

The only thing that can say in Quinn's defense is that some years ago I went to Barberian's from nostalgia and everything but the steak was crap, although not to this extreme, and Barberian's is "uber". But this is only saying, "but Johnny does it too" and doesn't exculpate Billy.
I cannot imagine my Quinn's meal being served anywhere else except Toronto.

THE EMAIL TO QUINN'S

My Steak Dinner
My dessert, the chocolate pecan tart, moves me to write. I may as well start at the top.

I had the rib steak, with a side of broccolini rabe.

The mashed potatoes were no shame but no honour either. I can tell you how to do better easily, but I am sure that you don't need me for this, just desire. The potato was just neutral mush which was inconsistently flavoured with garlic, ranging from too strong - and I am Polish - to barely discernable.
All the other vegetables were beautifully cooked and delicious.
I asked for the steak cooked medium rare. The degree of cooking in different parts of the steak varied and the steak averaged out at medium. That was OK by me, but at that degree of cooking it needed something and I had not asked for, a sauce. What I had asked for was a bit of garlic on the steak. The waitress was pleasant, but she had no idea what I was talking about to the point of being incredulous. She said she would go to the kitchen and ask. She didn't tell me. I don't know what the kitchen did - there were black bits on the surface of the steak - but I didn't taste garlic.
The steak otherwise was quite OK.
The dessert- the chocolate pecan tart- is growing on me and becoming disgusting.
I had spoken with the manager about it and he quickly offered to make matters right . I said that it was OK , I had a coupon and I didn't want more food.

I didn't tell him about the steak because I told him of the tart. Enough is enough. I was polite about the tart. I told him that it was a nothing. After a bit of time- I settled with the waitress- the taste in my mouth became increasingly unpleasant and I told him this on my way out. On my way home the afterglow became so unpleasant that I stopped off at a Portuguese bakery for some white bread to use as a scrub. It didn't work . I now feel as if I want to give the tart back. Certainly it has driven out any nice taste from the rest of my quite good steak dinner.

The tart first of all just tasted industrially bad. It tried to get away with it because the flavours were so definite. However I think that it was even stale. Harder to tell when the taste is generally strong muck. The texture was mush. It had been reheated. The top was warm mush, the bottom cool. That it was cool was OK with me . I don't like heated up pecan tarts.

This stupid tart is industrial and low at best. It ruined a good meal. Whoever put it on the menu should be forced to eat it.

Incidentally the email addresses in your website - comments etc and reservations etc (!) don't work.

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  1. Bad form when places do not respond to e-mail comments especially when they ask for them. They could have just responded "thanks for your comments, we will review the tart on our menu" or whatever. Not like they needed to offer you free food but if someone takes the time to write they should respond.

    I went on a "coupon" a while back. I had an okay experience but I felt even with the discount there wasn't any value there.

    1. Have you noticed a constant in all of these bad restaurant experiences?

      3 Replies
        1. re: jiminy

          When I use a coupon, the staff never knows untill I ask for the bill and I give it to them at the end of the meal... why flag the fact that I am cheap :-)

          1. re: pourboi

            I don't think the necessarily give you worse service/food if you have a coupon... just, the places that are often featured with "Coupons" are often not the best places in the city... especially ones that are featured a lot like Quinns.

      1. I have been doing customer service for years (not in restaurants but it is all the same really)... if I received the above rambling email I would print it out or forward it to give people a laugh but I would not respond..

        There is an art to a complaint.. do not ramble on.. state your point, state what will make you happy.. keep it short keep it clear.

        BUT Vinnie made the biggest mistake.. get your your issues resolved when you are in the restaurant. When the manager said he would make it right LET HIM MAKE IT RIGHT... do not say "It's OK" then complain again later that is silly.

        Also Quinns is not "an expensive steak house" as you stated. It is a high end PUB... $34 is not an expensive steak. But I checked their website and their Ribeye is 10oz not 12 and listed as $28 which is the same price as places such as Milestones..

        1 Reply
        1. re: pourboi

          Last paragraph -- exactly. Quinn's competition is Milestones and Canyon Creek, not Barberians or Jacobs & Co. They simply don't 'cater to feinschmeckers'.

        2. Life is too short to spend it dining at mediocre restaurants and/or eat bad food. Why bother?

          1. These "reviews" always recall this from "Annie Hall,"

            Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

            1. "I cannot imagine my Quinn's meal being served anywhere else except Toronto."

              Get a grip. There's bad food everywhere. And the chances of finding it are greatly improved using groupon's, and eating at the Sheraton.

              2 Replies
              1. re: andyb99

                Well, he does ramble on, VVM does, and I wish he'd use Spell-Check a little more often, so I could follow his circuitous line of thought, but I'm delighted we've got a kamikaze pilot like VVM around, zeroing bravely in where others fear to tread - and thereby saving the rest of us from being blitzed by a dud restaurant. Let VVM take the hit, if he insists, and more power to him. Most restos offering coupon deals are overpriced to start anyway, and aren't worth the price even WITH a coupon. (e.g. the Quinn group.) Even when he is, in my view, over-the-top wrong/unfair (and I could list a few examples), VVM is, at the very least, entertaining.

                1. re: juno

                  Some of his posts are great. Not this one. I never imagined this place didn't suck.

              2. Why do you keep torturing yourself with these coupons dude?

                1. Coupons don't have to mean terrible experience is inevitable..

                  Ruth's Chris runs their coupon promo once a year (this year is the worst it's been yet, though) and the food is always the same portions and good quality as ever

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: duckdown

                    Resto vouchers have been almost entirely positive for me, a few bad apples aside. And I've used many. Saved me so much dough.

                    I usually only select restos I know are fantastic, or know are near sure things.

                    But I love OP's approach too. It's pretty funny.

                  2. feinschmeckers. classic.

                    1. Y'all
                      The fault by jiminy, MssBingBing, lies not in coupons, but in ourselves for the restaurant culture that we foster.
                      I spend most of the year in Israel and New Zealand and have great success with coupons in both countries. And in Israel I don't speak, read or write either Hebrew nor Arabic! I succeed for the same reason that I succeed when I go to a place that doesn't coupon.
                      In Toronto I have little success either way and for the same reason.
                      There is a constant, but not the one that you want to hear.

                      Yes, andyb99, there is bad food everywhere I have proven that you can get a bad meal even in Paris. My work had taken me to much of Canada and the United States and for periods long enough that I got to learn the lie of the land. But I know of nowhere other than Toronto that a restaurant with the prices and pretensions of Quinn's would serve "pre-made" potato with a AAA steak, and furthermore have that execrable pecan tart as a dessert.
                      The meal was not a Sheraton hotel meal. Quinn's is a tenant.
                      There is no special relationship between "bad meal" and "coupon" in Toronto. And besides, I filter coupons and restaurants, and I am good at it elsewhere.

                      Boccaccio, The Windsor Arms or Ruth's Chris also coupon and do not use "pre-made". Milestone and The Keg are earlier links in the feeding chain to Quinn's and they too start with whole potatoes.

                      justxpete.I use coupons because (a) I am unlikely to have better luck without (b) they encourage me to a bit of adventure (c) when things don't work out it is less aggravating (d) I'm cheap. But I don't go looking for mediocrity and worse. Some couponed places have enough credibility and reputation that they have customers waiting for seating.

                      julesrules. I have enough faith in mankind to believe that a place that specializes in meat and potatoes would offer a decent plate of the same at $34, no sauce, plus plus. Or perhaps belief in mankind's survival instinct.

                      Caviartothegeneral. I tried comparing prices and adjusting the dollars plus or minus for diferences - size, sauce, sides, but leaving out Waygu etc- and concluded that Quinn's is 30 to 50% more expensive than Milestone or the Keg, usually closer to 30%.

                      Quinn's does call itself a steakhouse and there is a lot of steak on the menu. A place that touts holding over 200 whiskeys and has Kobe, AAA or Waygu in front of almost all its beef schmecks fein enough for me. It's not as if I can put Quinn's in a different category than Barberian's because Barberian's has real class- it doesn't.

                      Kagemusha. You missed that I slid in this Woody Allen joke into a couple posts recently.
                      Perhaps you took the posts straight.

                      Juno. Call me anyting, but don't call me wrong!
                      I do, or rather did, use spell check. However. A few times I had typed out a long "comment", then I went back to correct the spelling before posting. Part of the way through, once when I almost finished, I hit something on the keyboard and the whole thing when poof. What a bummer. What I do now is bang away, I post part of the way through, then I finish my comment and edit, hitting "save" intermittently.
                      It is worse now that I switched to Apple. I can't find the spell check, and stuff keeps disappearing and comes back if i am lucky. I hit save more often.

                      pourboi. I made a mistake in writing. I thought that I could get my post over with quicker if I posted my previously sent email together with a brief note. The note grew, it was late and I wanted to get it over with. So I posted everything anyway. You may have missed that my post was in two parts. I had sent Quinn's the second part, which was not long at all and focussed on the pecan tart.

                      I agree that brevity is the soul of wit and tediousness in my emails and posts flourishes. I could have written, "this fake noble place is crap", and left it at that.
                      1. Sometimes one must risk being prolix in order to present the information necessary to establish the valiidity of the conclusions.
                      2. The best kind of teaching, formal or otherwise, including in newspaper reporting (eg Wall Street Journal), is to hide the ball. The presenter lay out the facts - selectively perhaps- and lets the consumer draw the conclusion that the presenter wants the consumer to reach. This method can take many words and lines.
                      3. The passacagalia (you may call it the drone) of my Quinn's complaints is that everything is bad, and to establish this this requires a lot of notes for the melody.
                      4. When I trash a dish or place, I like to give cogent reasons rather than just be clever at someone else's expense. How about you?

                      Quinn's holds itself out to be an expensive steak house. It is, although there are more expensive places. However a place like Ruth's Chris gives more food for their price. Furthermore, they may get away with it because its not the steak, its the sizzle and they are better at sizzle.
                      Quinn's menu in the restaurant is not the same as the menu on the internet. I was sold what was described as a 12oz steak for $34, no sauce, not 10 oz for $28.

                      Resolving my complaints at the restaurant was neither appropriate nor practical.
                      1. I went to Quinn's to relax. Quinn's was a host, I was a guest. I didn't go to create friction and wasn't in the mood to further sour my evening.
                      2. Second and related. Notions of courtesy and culture. There is an old Hi and Lois cartoon strip. Hi is at restaurant with his family. In each panel they do nothing but complain about the food. In the last panel Hi stands at the register paying. The cashier asks Hi how he (hey, that's pretty good!) and his family liked the meals. Hi answers "Oh, just fine". Ever happen with you?
                      3. It woud have needed to make a five minute long speech. I was't ready to speak extemporaneously for so long, and it really wasn't the time nor the place.
                      4. Ideas and understandings need time to gel.
                      5. I was seated and the manager was standing over me. I am uncomfortable saying much in these circumstances.

                      If you had ignored an even hysterical complaint from a customer and subsequently your employer was trashed on the internet, would you respond the next time? Would there be a next time for you? I know someone who does customer service for a large NYC consumer electronics retail firm. Her employer's highest priority in dealing with customers is to suppress a complaint if they can do it at all reasonably so not to have the complaint on the internet for all the world and for all eternity. What's to laugh about from "pre-made" potatoes and soggy, stale Sysco pecan tart?

                      Noble Deletio. The Toronto mentality is not an inferiority complex. On the contrary. Canadians east of the Rockies attribute to Torontonians a broad ranging superiority complex. And do they ever resent.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                        I appreciate your reviews. Livens up the place.

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                          Resolving my complaints at the restaurant was neither appropriate nor practical.
                          - It is appropriate, in fact it is the only appropriate place to resolve the complaints as at that time and in that place they can remove things off the bill, give your alternatives, give you a voucher... later by email to some corporate office they have no idea what the circumstances were...

                          1. I went to Quinn's to relax. Quinn's was a host, I was a guest. I didn't go to create friction and wasn't in the mood to further sour my evening.
                          - You were not a "guest" you are a "Paying Customer" who needs to be satisfied and they are a "service providor" who are there to satisfy you within their means.

                          2. Second and related. Notions of courtesy and culture. There is an old Hi and Lois cartoon strip. Hi is at restaurant with his family. In each panel they do nothing but complain about the food. In the last panel Hi stands at the register paying. The cashier asks Hi how he (hey, that's pretty good!) and his family liked the meals. Hi answers "Oh, just fine". Ever happen with you?
                          - Yes that happens to me... BUT only when I do not feel that their were enough issues to complain about. If I had issues I would voice them. If I sad it was fine I would not email them later and say I had issues...

                          3. It woud have needed to make a five minute long speech. I was't ready to speak extemperaneously for so long, and it really wasn't the time nor the place.
                          - It does not take a five minute speach (for most people) to say that "my tart was stale and I did not like the potatoes". It takes 10 seconds...It is of no use to go into anymore detail as you are not going to change their business with a long speach during dinner.

                          4. Ideas and understandings need time to gel.
                          - "my tart was stale and I did not like the potatoes".

                          5. I was seated and the manager was standing over me. I am uncomfortable saying much in these circumstances.
                          - Just stand up and offer him a handshake as you introduce yourself, give you a chance to be professional and an excuse to stand. You can also say "why do we not talk by the entrance" (etc).

                          They probably served 50-100 people that night emailing the head office later and then them having to check with the specific location and try to talk to the people who were there that night and determine & contact the specific ones that interacted with you (after figuring out which of the 100 customers you are) is time consuming and sometimes impossible... especially (as I keep repeating) the gist of your complaint is that the tart was stale and you did not like your potatoes but you would not let the manager make it right at the time.

                          1. re: pourboi

                            When faced with a complaint in the restaurant where I work, I usually try to "make it right" on the spot. It happens very rarely thankfully.
                            It never get's to the point where a patron has to feel uncomfortable in bringing something forward, as I don't fight back, or disagree, I accept what they are saying and apologize. If in the end, I am comp'ing a meal, I always invite them to contact me personally the next time they are coming so that we can "wow" them.
                            Too bad that you didn't feel comfortable at bringing it up at the time because while I can't speak to their management style, they might have been able to address it for you if their staff are empowered to do so.
                            As "pourboi" (hey, nice handle) suggested. Weeding out the circumstances afterwards is somewhat a chore in a high volume restaurant but they will do it if they care. If they are having issues with their emails, you may want to follow up with a short call asking them if they received it? Hopefully they come through for you.

                            1. re: Poorboy

                              Good post... I don't think Vinnie is really wanting them to come through for him per say though.. I think he is just telling them honestly that the dessert was horrible and that the potato thing was bad and they should just change it.

                              A simple "thanks for your feedback" would probably go a long way. I don't think in this particular incident they need to research the complaint because I am sure that dessert item and the potatoes are still the same.

                              I really hate when restaurants ask for feedback (customer comment cards, etc) and then become all defensive so glad that you accept people's comments and don't see it as an opportunity to argue.

                          2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                            Thanks for making me run to the dictionary again. Passacagalia. Nice one. Thank goodness for the Encyclopedia Britannica definition without which I wouldn't comprehend the full meaning.

                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                              Yes, andyb99, there is bad food everywhere I have proven that you can get a bad meal even in Paris. My work had taken me to much of Canada and the United States and for periods long enough that I got to learn the lie of the land. But I know of nowhere other than Toronto that a restaurant with the prices and pretensions of Quinn's would serve "pre-made" potato with a AAA steak, and furthermore have that execrable pecan tart as a dessert.
                              The meal was not a Sheraton hotel meal. Quinn's is a tenant.
                              There is no special relationship between "bad meal" and "coupon" in Toronto. And besides, I filter coupons and restaurants, and I am good at it elsewhere.

                              Not sure what the point of a response is – again – get a grip – it’s laughable to suggest you could only get that meal in Toronto.

                              Hmm, Sheraton hotel meal vs Sheraton hotel tenant. I guess you differentiate, most don’t. The last steak-house there, I believe, was Le Biftheque – I believe they were tenants too. Most likely had coupons, most likely had AAA beef – very similar result. As a general rule, go ahead and avoid the Sheraton if you’re looking for quality food.

                              As far as groupons and good meals – I believe there is a very clear relationship…. But I guess it's an agree to disagree situation.

                              1. re: andyb99

                                Y'all #2
                                Googs. A big reason why I used "passacagalia" was to set up the pun in "drone".

                                Re: andyb99. Has anyone else had an expensive meat and potatoes meal as flawed as mine and if so where? Please post.

                                pourboi, Poorboy
                                The nature of my complaint. Yes, yes, you have the right solution; I just have the wrong problem.
                                My position is that I am entitled to assess the situation and complain according to my own judgement as long as I am not being unreasonable. I am the customer after all.
                                I decided that I would complain to the floor manager only about the tart because its failings were many and without doubt. It seemed that the complaint didn't take the floor manager by surprise. Without anything further he offered to make it right. I told him that it was OK. I said this because he couldn't effect a reasonable remedy. I told him that I didn't want another dessert and that I had a coupon. This means that he couldn't take the tart off the bill. By the time I was going out the door the unpleasant feeling from the tart had grown. I told hm this and didn't get a meaningful response. There had been a prior resolution to my complaint. What more am I supposed to do with him? What could I expect? That he prostrate himself and grovel? The manager is only a lesser cog with limited authority and I knew it, so what's the point in hassling with him?
                                In any event, although the other stuff was below standard, it was palatable. I cannot go into a clinch and call something bad without a detailed explanation. I didn't want to at the time. Again there was no point to it.

                                I did complain in a meaningful way. I sent emails to those who are responsible for the kitchen and have authority to effect changes. I sent emails to the corporate head office and to the owner's personal email address. I did this on consecutive days. I got no response.
                                Had anyone been interested, it would have easy to identify me if this mattered. The heading to my email (not reproduced) gave the time frame). There were only two other tables the entire time I was there, one of three and one of two. Or the recipients could have asked by reply email. But no one was interested.

                                Maybe I should take complaining lessons from the guy I saw last night at a shawarma place. He came with his family, a group of five. His son ordered, he went to pay when they had finished. He approached the owner at the register with the remains in hand of a slice of pizza which he had purchased elsewhere. Then he insisted on not paying HST because he was paying cash. Then he tried to negotiate the price.
                                I should tell you that the owner who was subjected to this is a refined and educated middle-aged man who has Arabic notions of his social responsibilities as a host and is selling shawarma only because he is an immigrant. The customer talked to a person who had authority.