: Quinn’s: A Palate Pleaser By Mary Lee Shalvoy
2007 March/April Issue–It’s very difficult to find a restaurant that simultaneously appeals to multiple tastes, moods and dining ambiences. Luckily, there’s a perfect solution to any dining dilemma, just a hop and a skip across the Park Street Bridge along Oakland’s nearby Embarcadero.
Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub can satisfy just about any dining need, largely because it offers three distinct dining areas, a varied menu and extensive wine list.
Looking for a tasty prime rib dinner in a quiet tableclothed locale with your spouse? Quinn’s Yacht Club Dining Room will suit your needs. Or do you and your rambunctious family have a yen for a pub meal combined with the reckless joyful abandon of peanut-shell throwing? Walk upstairs to the Upper Deck Pub. And Quinn’s can accommodate those who’d rather seek a quiet outdoor cafe with an expansive wraparound deck, a perfect spot for grabbing a bite and watching a romantic sunset over the marina.
Many may not know it, but Quinn’s originated as an actual lighthouse, built in 1890, rebuilt in 1903 and moved to its present location in 1965. Legendary tales of lighthouse keepers, as well as the relocation of 19th-century buildings from downtown Oakland to the waterfront, add to Quinn’s culture. For more details on the building’s salty, rich history, check out Quinn’s Web site, www.quinnslighthouse.com.
The success of Quinn’s Lighthouse is a tribute to the man who devotes his time daily to creating a total dining experience, Bodo Eichler, the restaurant’s managing partner since 1986. He was trained in the hotel and food service industry in Europe, made his way to Canada and then to the United States. Eichler believes a top-rated and award-winning restaurant must effortlessly blend comfort, value, service and atmosphere.
‘It’s as simple as making sure the right elements exist,’ he says, adding, ‘is there parking? Is the entrance well-lit?’
Those who know better understand that it’s really not that simple to run a restaurant for 20 years, though Eichler does so with certainty and expertise, from precisely choosing the wines on the wine list to adding whimsy to Quinn’s decor.
The small things help create the total Quinn’s experience: peanut shells on the pub floor, 75 ship models docked on the dining room walls and Italian imported glass ¼–liter and ½–liter carafes for wine, for instance.
Quinn’s easily accommodates groups, and my large party of 10, which included more children than adults, enjoyed our meal in the pub, a fluid and spontaneous space. Two women sitting nearby actually launched an attack of peanut shells on my unsuspecting daughters when we first arrived, and a fun peanut-shell fight quickly ensued. That’s the type of place Quinn’s is.
The pub offers a bevy of activities, hosting happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with discount prices on drinks, beers and appetizers, plus pirate nights on Thursday nights with the resident sea shanty band.
Eichler works hard on the menu and the wine list, which has received trade recognition for excellence. The menu appeals to every palate, from the health conscious to red meat aficionados. Quinn’s diners can select soups, salads and hearty appetizers like the deep fried garlic chicken wings, fresh mussels, clams, steaks, chicken and more.
The Quinn’s sense of humor carries through to the menu. Saying ‘Dinky Doo Seafood Stew,’ the name of a delectable broth filled with clams, mussels, calamari and prawn, made us chuckle. And the kids in our group pined for the ‘Dooda’ platter for the name alone. Said platters layer black beans, two-grain rice, corn salsa, fresh avocado and mild green chile, then plop steamed vegetables and chicken, salmon or prawns on top.
Quinn’s also does fish and seafood dishes, including classics like gratin of seafood Newburg and salmon Newberg. The former combines Dungeness crab, scallops, prawns and bay shrimp in a creamy lobster bisque sauce with dry sherry and fresh mushrooms and a dusting of seasoned breadcrumbs. The latter tops a filet with creamy bay shrimp/sauvignon blanc wine sauce, then bakes it all in puffed pastry.
If fish dishes aren’t for you, don’t worry–there’s something for you, such as the homemade lasagna dinner, which mixes Niman Ranch beef, Italian-style hot sausage and fresh mushrooms with ricotta cheese, a zesty marinara sauce, Monterey jack and sharp cheddar cheeses. Quinn’s also turns out sandwiches and burgers from ‘happy cows,’ non-beef burgers and game burgers (buffalo and venison),with lots of toppings for happy eating.
Whatever your style, Sunday brunch is a great way to experience Quinn’s, and the brunch menu features tasty treats like eggs Benedict, French toast and specialty omelets, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The children’s menu is designed to please the pickiest of patrons, and my kids took great pleasure in milkshakes made with creamy gelato or Italian ice cream.
So the next time palate-pleasing falls to you, consider Quinn’s, since odds are good everyone will be able to find something to like.
For more information about Alameda Magazine, visit www.alamedamagazine.com.