Monday, January 6, 2014

Rekindling Old Friendships at Quinn's Old Town Grill - CLOSED

Quinn's Old Town Grill
405 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780

It's so funny how people come in and out of your life. When you are young, you think you will be friends with the same people forever, but some people just drift away. We grew up with a family that kind of drifted away from us, The Hoffman's. They had two daughters, one a few years older than myself, and another daughter who was a few years younger than my sister. I was young, but I can remember going up to the mountains with them, going over to their house for dinner, and them coming over for birthday parties and other events. I'm not sure when we lost contact, but I always wondered what had become of them.

I was shocked when my Mom told me that she had gotten a phone call from them, and they wanted to meet up. The parents of the two girls live in Tustin now, and they wanted to have dinner, to see how the last thirty or so years have treated us. My parents naturally left the restaurant picking to me. Since my parents live in Yorba Linda, and both Katie and I live in South OC, I decided to focus my restaurant search on the Tustin area, kind of in the middle for all of us. Not knowing what kind of food Jim and Carol were into, I picked something that I felt almost anyone would like, classic American food. We headed to Old Town Tustin to try the grub at Quinn's Old Town Grill.

I guess I should have done more research though, because there was a band playing when we met up here, and they were pretty loud. Not really conducive to catching up on the last thirty years, but the band was wrapping up as we were being sat, so we would have plenty of time to talk about all that's gone on with us. On this particular Sunday night Quinn's was filled with what I would consider to be locals. As the band ended, people were filling out, and more of a dinner crowd was coming in. Quinn's had a nice comfortable feel to it. Not too stuffy, and definitely not a dive, Quinn's was comfortably in between. The dinner menu includes salads, sandwiches, and pretty traditional entrees. Let's see what this night had in store for us long time friends.

As soon as we were done ordering, we were given a Dinner Roll to start off with. This was a very sturdy dinner roll of the sourdough variety. Not too bad, but I would have liked the butter packets to have been room temperature, so the butter could spread evenly.

As if we did not have a enough bread, I ordered their "To Die For" Garlic Bread ($5.50). I thought the presentation of this was a little odd, but when it was opened up, I could see why they are so high on this garlic bread. The bread had a decent crunch, and the insides had a nice, not overpowering garlic flavor to it. This was more than enough for the six of us, and I would definitely order this again.

Salads are not included in the entrees at Quinn's, but both Katie and I wanted a salad to start off our meal. She went with the pretty pedestrian looking Dinner Salad ($5.50). This is your basic dinner salad, with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, and croutons. No surprise, but Katie thought the produce used here was fresh, and she was generally pleased with her salad. I guess we are both creatures of habit, because I almost always get a Caesar Salad ($6.50), and that was the case on this night as well. This was a pretty good version of a Caesar. I liked the classic presentation of using a real anchovy on top of this. The salad was dressed nicely with a mild dressing, the croutons were kind of plain tasting, and I was pretty happy with the serving size of this.

I was a little taken aback when my Dad ordered soup, which he almost never does in restaurants. I was also a little shocked when he chose the Chicken Artichoke Soup ($5.95). Not something that he would normally go for, but he liked the creaminess of this soup, and felt that it had a nice subtle flavor. Even after 42 years of knowing this big guy, I still learn something new about him from time to time.

Entree time, and Katie threw me for a loop again by getting the Filet Mignon Stroganoff ($17.50). This classic dish combined egg noodles, sliced filet mignon, mushrooms, a dollop of sour cream, and chives. Katie thought this embodied comfort food. This was well cooked, the noodles were tender, and the sour cream added a creaminess. On the downside, Katie would have liked the meat to be a little more tender here.

On Sundays at Quinn's, they offer their Fried Chicken ($18.50), which they tout as the best tasting in Orange County. You can count Carol as one of the believers of this. She called this chicken, "Excellent". She appreciated the breading used on this, along with the tenderness of the chicken. This half chicken came with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. If she had to pick the weak link for this meal, it would have been the bland tasting vegetables. She was very pleased with the serving size of this, and had plenty to take home.

My parents split their meal, the Three Piece Alaskan Cod Fish and Chips ($16.50). Yes, I realize that there are only two pieces on the plate, there must have been a mistake in the kitchen, because they eventually brought the third piece out on a separate plate. My parents really liked this version of fish and chips. The cod was light and flaky on the inside, while the batter on the outside had a nice crunch to it. Not overly greasy, they felt comfortable eating this. The cod came with Cole Slaw and Steak Fries. My parents are not really big fans of steak fries, but they did not complain too much about these.

Jim went with the Filet Mignon ($33). This 8 ounce steak is cooked in Quinn's 2500 degree broiler, and aged for 28 days. Jim called this steak, "good, but not great". It was tender, and a good cut of meat. He felt this was worth the price, and would get this steak again, rating it 8 out of 10. This came with herb roasted potatoes and green beans, which he was very pleased with.

Since Quinn's prides itself on being an Irish bar, I of course had to try their corned beef, and when I saw they had it in sandwich form, I knew immediately that I would be having the Reubenesque ($14.95). This Reuben sandwich came filled with corned beef, Cole slaw, and Swiss cheese, on toasted rye bread. I really enjoyed this sandwich. The corned beef was tender and flavorful, the Cole slaw added some crunch, and the Swiss kind of brought everything together. The bread was almost not like a rye bread flavor wise, but it did its job of keeping the contents of the sandwich together. The menu did not say that this comes with fries, but it did. These fries were more of a fast food style variety, which is much more to my liking.

By this point of the meal I was pretty full, but there were six of us, so I figured we could all split the Warm Shamrock Brownie ($7.75). Quinn's version of a brownie sundae comes with a drizzle of caramel, vanilla bean ice cream, and hot fudge. The brownie was a little too loose. I like this sundae better when the brownie is cooked a little bit more, this one was a little too soft. There is almost never enough ice cream for me on these, but this one came close. The caramel and hot fudge were well represented, and helped make this dessert a must get when coming here.

Quinn's was the perfect place for us to catch up with the Hoffman's, after over thirty years. Not only was it geographically desirable, but there was something for everyone on this menu. We all left relatively happy with the dinners that we had. I'd definitely come back if I were in the area, and wanted a corned beef sandwich. There were a few hiccups at Quinn's though. Our server, or it could have been the kitchen, were not really on top of their game on this night. Not that anything was crazy wrong with the service, but at times it seemed a little chaotic, with empty glasses, missing food, and long times before being checked on. I also thought that the prices here were a tad on the high side. My sandwich was good, but was it $15 good? No, it wasn't. If you don't mind paying $15 dollars for a sandwich or $33 for a half pound steak, this might be the place for you. What you can't put a price tag on is renewing old acquaintances with friends that you thought were lost long ago.

Out of five steel drums, (because the movie, "The Mighty Quinn", took place on an unidentified Caribbean island, and when I'm in the Caribbean, I love listening to steel drums), five being best to zero being worst, Quinn's Old Town Grill gets 3 steel drums.

For more information about Quinn's Old Town Grill, go to their website here:

Quinn's Old Town Grill on Urbanspoon

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