Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quintana's Restuarant - Review

In an effort to try out more of the local restaurants, my friends and I have initiated a foodie group, epically (and ridiculously) named The Touton Mountaineers (long story/inside joke)! In a nutshell, the plan is to venture out to a new restaurant every so many weeks for (fingers crossed) good food and obviously good company. And since the co-founders of the group each have a blog, we thought hey?! why not throw in a review while we're at it! So with our next outing on the horizon, I figure it's time to get this posted.

We've broken the review into what we consider to be the key points of a restaurant outing:
  1. Logistics
  2. Service
  3. Atmosphere
  4. Quality of Food & Drink
  5. Overall Experience

In addition to a quick note on each category, we've also included our individual rankings out of 10. You can find mine below, and Terri's (Touton Mountaineer co-founder) on her blog Pop Culture, With Sarcasm.

So without further ado, I present to you the results of our first group outing:

The Touton Mountaineers visit Quintana's

Located: Churchill Square, St. John's, NL


Quintana's is located in Churchill Square, which is just off Elizabeth Avenue. It's easy to find, has lots of parking (though I believe it's metered during the day) and can be accessed easily by bus. Online they have a complete restaurant menu, with prices included, making it super easy to figure out what you want ahead of time. I don't know about you, but nothing gets me more excited about trying a new restaurant, than pre-planning my meal and drooling over pictures of their food. Unfortunately, Quintana's website didn't have any photos, nor did any form of social media I could find, but at least they had their basics covered.

Good news, unlike some restaurants in this city, Quintana's takes and welcomes reservations! In fact, I called on a Tuesday afternoon to book a large group (12 to be exact), for the same Saturday, with no initial trouble. I say 'initial trouble' because when confirming my reservation for the evening on Saturday, I discovered they had booked our group for Sunday instead. Something they were quick and happy to fix, but it was still disconcerting. If I hadn't called to confirm, it would have been disastrous! Always good to confirm reservations, I guess!

Overall Logistics Score: (7/10)
I loved that I could pre-plan my meal online, but I really think they could use some food shots. Especially since they specialize in Mexican Cuisine and are located in a city where most people aren't familiar with it at all. Also, it's nice to have an idea of what to expect. Location was great with lots of parking, and they were super nice about the whole mix-up on the reservation, but the fact they booked us for the wrong night lost them some points.


So this is where we start going downhill. I'm not sure if the server was new, but she was very quiet, shy and almost afraid to look any of us in the eye. She was nice enough, but the service was actually brutal! We arrived at 7:30 and left at 10:00. Drink orders were placed almost immediately as we arrived, but things quickly slowed down, it was a full half an hour before our meal orders were taken, despite the fact we were all ready when she delivered our drinks. Once we did get to order, we discovered they were out of guacamole... let that sink in... a Mexican restaurant, out of guac, 8:00 on a Saturday night?! How does that even happen? Quick! Send someone to Sobey's for emergency avocados!

Anywho, moving on, there were several other issues throughout the night, aside from slow service, our server was not attentive or prompt in any way. She messed up several orders in varying degrees, from bringing coffee instead of tea, corn poquitos instead of the requested flour poquitos and adding the wrong condiments to a burger. On top of this, our water glasses were typically empty and since she rarely checked on us our drinks, too, were typically empty. One of the group members who had been there before, ordered two drinks at a time because he was familiar with their slow service. Speaking of drinks, Terri and I ordered a pitcher of margaritas between us to save a few bucks, however after ordering and getting our drinks, we were advised the price had gone up which essentially eliminated our discount.

Once we actually received our food (the restaurant had cleared out, as can be seen in the photo below), the server did not return to ask how the food was, and took a while to return to our table to ask if there was any interest for dessert. We opted for no dessert, despite some of us wanting it, just because it was already so late and we figured it would literally mean another full hour sitting and waiting for desserts and bills.

Overall Service Score (3/10)
The server was friendly but too shy. She was not attentive, and barely checked on our table to see how we were doing for drinks and food. There were several order mess-ups and the restaurant didn't seem busy, nor did our server, so we're not even sure why everything took as long as it did. Overall, it was terrible.


In general the restaurant isn't huge, but I wouldn't' categorize it as small either. It's actually a nice size and has a pretty privatized layout... by privatized I mean, it seemed like you could enjoy a meal without feeling 'out in the open'. There was a mixture of booths and tables, and some dividers scattered around for privacy. The decor was what I expected, definitely gave a Mexican vibe, and I even think they may have been playing Mexican tunes throughout the meal.

As for our party of 12, we were smooshed up against a window with a corner of the restaurant to ourselves. I didn't mind the location, I mean let's face it, nothing's worse than being set up in the centre of the restaurant, while everyone walks around you, but I will admit it was a bit cramped, Luckily I like the people squat next to me ;)

Overall Atmosphere Rank: (7/10)
I liked the vibe of the restaurant, it was decorated in a fun way (though some may argue tacky). Our group had our own section and despite being squat together, it was nice.

Quality of Food & Drink

Before I get into the negatives, I want to point out a positive - they have a separate drink menu outlining their cocktails and such, many restaurants are happy to make what you request, but I love when I have something to choose from.

very blurred shot of the drink menu!

As for food, it was hit or miss. Some of the group members enjoyed, while others were not pleased at all. I personally enjoyed the margarita, and the Chalupa dip that a few of us split as an appetizer; however, I did not enjoy my main whatsoever. If you're familiar with the Food List Challenge, you might know that fish tacos are one of the items listed. Since I've been trying to cross off as many items as I can, I ordered the fish tacos - what a disappointment, they are pictured below. I should also mention, we had a couple of picky eaters in the group. They were pretty pleased with their flour poquitos, but that's pretty much the only menu item they were interested in.

Margaritas for 2

Salsa and Chips to entertain us while waiting on the real food. The salsa was weak, not flavourful at all.
Can't really see the dip itself, but this was actually delicious! Chalupa Dip - you will need more chips though, way more!

Enchilada Pie - quite the greasy affair. Also, note the difference in colour of these refried beans and the ones in the next photo. Looks like this entire dish was sitting under the heat lamp for some time!

Fish Tacos, if you can call them that. It was fried fish, coated in pepper and served with coleslaw... that was it, they should be embarrassed to serve these, I've seen them with salsas, chutneys and spices and other yummy additions, I was super disappointed, though in their defense, they were accurately described on their menu. I just expected more flare! They didn't taste good at all. Also, note the dried patches on top of the beans.

Mexican Pizza - it was good but 'nothing special'

Overall, I feel the food was more expensive than it needed to be. We spent roughly $78 for 2 people.

We had:
  • 1 Soft drink, free refills
  • 2 Margaritas
  • Shared app, split with a 3rd person
  • 2 Mains
  • Plus an automatic gratuity which we were not told about until our bills were made out. Something, in retrospect, I should have been told when I made the reservation for 12 (as it's automatically added once your group reaches this size). And something no one in the group was happy to pay, especially after the drawn out service. In fact, one guy insisted if he wanted to stick around for another 20 minutes, he would have argued the tip and asked to have it removed.

Overall Food & Drink Score (3/10)
The food was hit or miss, but when they missed, boy did they ever! Though I guess the same can be said for when they hit, they hit. I really enjoyed the dip and would definitely get that again with some drinks, but in my very limited experience with Mexican food, or at least what we call 'Mexican' in these parts, there food was not up to par, in particular their refried beans were dried up for a few people. It definitely wasn't worth the money we paid.

Overall Experience

So, you can probably tell by now that I wouldn't return to this restaurant in a heartbeat or anything. There were positives, but also many, many negatives. I appreciated the online menu, they had friendly and accommodating staff taking the reservations, they have lots of parking and a fun atmosphere. However, the downsides for me, and for most of my party, were the overall service and food, two of the most important aspects of any restaurant outing! Drinks and apps may be the way to go with this place, would not recommend it for a meal. So disappointing!

Overall Experience Score: 4/10

Overall Restaurant Score:  24/50 or 48/100... Restaurant Fail.


  1. HA! I enjoy that we gave the restaurant the exact same score even with different rankings for different things. Also, I now have you linked to mine.

  2. Thanks for this very detailed review! I'm disappointed; our usual places are Pi and Guv'nor, and we were considering branching out and trying Quintana's, and now we probably won't...But where else can one get Mexican food in Sinjawns??

    1. I've been to Zapata's for Mexican, it's on Bates Hill downtown. I really enjoyed the food, although the space was a bit cramped when I was there. With that said, it was pre-Christmas and they had some group bookings, so that may have been why. Either way, I would definitely go back for the food, and if the seating situation is as equally awkward as my first visit, at least they do take-out orders! :)

  3. I haven't been to Quintana's for over 5 years, but when I did live in town, it used to be a place with reliably decent food. The black been burritos in particular were a favourite, but more importantly the available salsa selection was excellent. It's disappointing to hear you had a poor experience; I wonder if it was an anomaly or if things have actually gone downhill.


    1. Unfortunately, based on the conversations I've had with people since that night, the service and food have gone downhill. But again, it's all in what your order I guess, even at our table it was hit or miss. I'd definitely give it a go again for drinks and apps - the chalupa dip in particular was very tasty and I know they have excellent queso! But I don't think I'll be returning there any time soon for a meal.