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New and Quinproved 

Quincy's on Quinpool makes a few changes and moves up a few notches, says Liz Feltham.

I don’t revisit restaurants for review purposes unless something changes after the first critique that warrants another look. When I first popped into Quincy’s around this time last year, it did not fare well. In Quincy’s case, a spruced-up decor, a new head chef and a new menu make a compelling case for another round.

The interior has taken on a bit of personality with just a few subtle changes. There are various quotes and lists painted in script on the walls and dropped ceilings that make for interesting reading.

The menu has undergone a major overhaul, although it’s still quite extensive with everything from burgers to pastas to seafood. There’s also a fall feature menu highlighting appropriate seasonal flavours (plenty of root vegetables).

We pick an appetizer from this selection and two from the regular menu: BC crab cake ($8.95), hush puppies ($5.95) and oxtail risotto ($6.95). I don’t have anything against West Coast crab, but I don’t get why this non-specific “British Columbia crab” is used when we have so many suitable Eastern crabs—snow crab, for example. Still, this crab cake is very good. Delightful hush puppies are crunchy little balls of deep-fried cornmeal batter served with a garlic dipping sauce. The risotto is superb with shreds of beef and autumn vegetables stirred into the creamy rice. It’s filling for an appetizer: I wish I’d ordered this as a main and something a little lighter to start.

After the excellent starters, we eagerly anticipate our entrees. We’ve all chosen steak: “Sea to Shore” ($17.95), a pan-roasted rib-eye ($15.95) and steak frites ($13.95).

“Sea to Shore” is from the seasonal menu and is a chunk of beef atop a mix of tiny shrimp and root vegetables. The root vegetables overwhelm the delicate shrimp and the food is very heavily salted—it’s a clumsy rendition of a surf-and-turf that just doesn’t work.

It’s not a good night for steak. Although the meat is tender, both of the other dishes are very salty. Steak frites is a classic French bistro dish but here it’s interpreted as a striploin piled high with bits of lightly battered onion instead of fries (the classic way). There’s nothing else on the plate and the steak is not prepared well enough to carry this dish on its own. The pan-roasted rib-eye comes with large quarters of onion and potato and again, too much salt.

And, unfortunately, all of our main courses are cold. Our server has told us there’s a large table on the other side of the restaurant, so I guess they’re getting all the attention. Also, some plates are cleared before everyone is finished. However, it’s certainly not all negative—our server is personable, quick to quality-check and eager to answer all our questions.

Quincy’s new chef makes incredible spelt bread that begs to be taken home—and you can buy a loaf to do just that ($3.95). After two baskets of bread we still make room for dessert: carrot cake, molten chocolate cake and the seasonal pumpkin-spiced latte creme brulee (each $5.95). The carrot cake has more than a hint of ginger and it is very good with a moist texture. Sadly, the chocolate cake is dry, the “molten” centre is empty and there isn’t a strong enough chocolate flavour. Creme brulee is the best of this lot, with a delicate spiced custard.

Quincy’s has addressed issues of food quality, service and atmosphere. Some things could still be improved, but the restaurant is definitely headed in the right direction.

Quincy’s on Quinpool6273 Quinpool Road422-4414Daily 11am-10pm

Head to the web for more of Liz Feltham’s reviews: www.foodcritic.ca

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