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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."