Thursday, November 8, 2007

Election Day and Quinn's

I remembered the name of my crazy neighbor’s future boyfriend long enough to vote for his opponent the other day. It’s amazing how a loony (with a fondness for calling people whores) can motivate a girl to get to the polls. I can already envision the kind of platform he and my crazy neighbor will make if they decide that, although they’re not meant to be romantically, they would make a great presidential ticket. There are a lot of cheap, easy shots here, involving whores, invisible men, rhubarb and crumb-bums. Since she can’t presently come outside to call me a no-good whore, I will (for once) refrain. Mostly.

To celebrate voting… well, to celebrate their patience with my voting (and to take their minds off of the fact that my husband is in New York), the kids and I headed out to Quinn’s for dinner. It’s the new place from the same owners of Restaurant Zoe (named for their first kid), apparently named for their second kid. I’ve been interested in it for a while, watching progress on it as I drive past it, and reading about it all over. And also, I have an absurd love for (bordering on sheep-like) following the crowds to the Latest New Place. And the kids are finally old enough to sometimes take along (which means we can try more of the menu). They loved it. They have been asking me, non-stop, when I am going to post about it.

As a caveat: the kids usually love a restaurant. They are thrilled at the chance to select and order their own food, and are deeply inclined to be pleased with whatever they get. I’m not complaining, mind you, since it makes them pleasant dining companions. And I am much the same. I'm happy to be dining out, and am (usually) inclined to be pleased. And, if you want to stop reading and get the précis: we liked Quinn’s and are planning to go back, despite the fact that there are kinks to be worked out (it has only been open about two weeks).

So, Quinn’s. The place was frigid. I kept my down jacket on through the entire meal. I was freezing. At first, I thought it was just me since I'm suffering from a nasty cold and have been either piled under my husband’s old polarfleece jackets (I shuffle around in his old coats when I’m sick. It gives me a deranged bag lady/Olsen twin je ne sais quoi) or wearing a tank top because I'm roastingly, sweatily, clammily hot. However, Curly, who is usually a little furnace, took her jacket off and then decided, yes, it was genuinely freezing, and put it back on. I know it seems like a funny complaint, and… it is. But if you go there (and, on the whole, I would say it's worth a try), don’t wear a skimpy but adorable top. An additional complaint: I hope the term “gastropub” dies a quick death (I don’t care if it’s painless or not). It wasn’t on the menu, so I don’t know if the term originated with the press, with Quinn’s PR people (if they have some) or with the owners. I don’t care. It gets on my nerves. Gastro-shut up about that already. It’s high end, imaginative pub grub. I GET IT. Moving on.

So, the food.

Starter 1: meatball sliders (I love how the White Castle vernacular has infiltrated snooty food). Verdict: all three of us disposed of them rapidly and looked around hopefully for any hiding under the plates. They were gimmicky but still fun, and quite tasty.

Actually, the sliders are all I'll bother with in detail. The menu is solid, with a couple of kinks to be worked out (I don't think home-made chips, however good, pair well with brandade, even if that, too, is tasty). They've hit the well executed, creative (without getting too precious. And although meatball sliders are a little gimmicky and cute, they had enough genuine mini-meatball grinder flavor to more than make up for the cuteness) pub grub nail pretty firmly on the head. It's fun to watch people go by the gigantic windows. They had some interesting, design-y (but not too) light fixtures.

My biggest complaint was with dessert, and it was entirely because the pastry chef had not left any kind of list of ingredients. Which I need now that I know nuts and Curly are archenemies. The young woman waiting on our table was really nice, and she absolutely (as she should have, which I appreciated) erred on the side of caution, and told me that since she couldn’t confirm there weren’t nuts, that I should assume there were. Well done by her, at any rate. I think it made all three of us a little biased against the desserts. My boy, having been present for the terrifying trip to the hospital with Curly when we found out that macadamia nuts can kill her is, if anything, more vigilant than I am. Only he is allowed to pick on his little sister. Anyone else who tries is going to be met with an irate skinny boy. Anyway.

On the whole, I liked Quinn’s. There are alot of restaurants stacking up in a small portion of Capitol Hill (Cafe Stellina, Osteria La Spiga, Cafe Presse, Lark, Licorous, Via Tribunali, etc.) as well as fun bars, and the parking situation is getting dire (unless you eat at 5pm with young children, in which case: no problem). The kids are asking when, when, when we can go there with my husband. However, I would advise people with allergies to maybe wait a month or two and let them work out their kinks, first. I would imagine that it’s really, really difficult for restaurants to find ways to accommodate patrons with serious allergies and still maintain their own sanity, and that even when they do try, it takes time, and probably several different tries, to find what is most successful.

The photo is of a mache salad with radish and olives. The radish is a funky radish I spotted at the grocery store (I can't remember if it was called a rainbow or watermelon radish). I was looking for Jerusalem artichokes (topinambur, whatever you'd like to call them) and none were to be found (what's their growing season? I thought, as tubers, that it was pretty well year-round), but this sounded interesting. And when I sliced it up, it was pretty.

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