Quinn's Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub: Reviews

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Half Bucket of Steamed ClamsCheeseburger with FriesKeylime Pie
Half Bucket of Steamed Clams, Cheeseburger with Fries, Key Lime Pie


Cathy Conley
Name: Cathy
Occupation: Marketing Engineer
Location: Alameda
Favorite Restaurant: Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub
Reviewed Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub: Sunday, November 16, 2008


The portion size was very good. I took home a doggy bag, while the others in my party felt they had more than sufficient portions. The quality of food was excellent. All dishes were tasty and had the finest quality ingredients. The fish dishes, especially, were all fresh. All dinners were brought out promptly and were hot. The service was outstanding. The hostess seated us promptly (we had reservations), and the waiter was at out table immediately. Orders were taken promptly and food delivered very quickly. We did not feel rushed at any time and were checked by the waiter to make sure our food was satisfactory, or if we needed anything else, etc.

The decor and atmosphere was appropriate to the setting. It was a nautical atmosphere befitting a former lighthouse situated on a Marina overlooking Coast Guard Island. It was a homey feeling with wonderful views out each window.

We felt we got a lot of bang for our buck. We had main courses, desserts, and wine, and the bill came out for less than $30/person including tip. I even brought home a doggie bag. An added feature is that with some of the desserts, you can request a sliver, so you don’t get the large portion and you get it at a reduced price.

The restaurant was very comfortable. There was enough space between tables so that you didn’t feel that you part of another party. Many of the tables had window views, so you could look out on the Bay. It was after sunset, so we did not get to see the sun setting over San Francisco that evening.

We split 1/2 liter of the house Chardonnay. The waiter poured the wine for us initially and came over several times to refill our glasses.

There was a birthday party at the table next to us that was a little loud, however, after they left, the noise level was very good. We had no trouble hearing each other’s conversations.

We were brought to our table immediately. We did have reservations, but were offered a table right away before I mentioned that we had reservations. The food arrival was so quick that it surprised us. All of our party’s dishes arrived at the same time. The food arrived hot from the kitchen.

On nights and weekends you can park in the office parking lot across the street. Otherwise it is all street parking with no meters. Even if you have to park a little ways away, it is a pleasant walk along the marina to get to the restaurant. Handicapped parking is right across from the restaurant entrance.

If you are in the mood for lighter fare or want to sit outside, there is a pub upstairs using the same kitchen. This is where I usually go after an A’s game. This also has windows on all sides, so if you sit indoors, you will still get a great view.

This is my recommended restaurant, so I tell people about it on a regular basis. One member of our party hadn’t been to Quinn’s before, but said he would come back and bring others.


Drew Bradbury
Name: Drew
Occupation: Recruiting Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Acquerello
Reviewed Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub: Saturday, November 8, 2008


Quinn’s is right in the pocket when it comes to comfort food in a comfortable atmosphere at a comfortable price.

Tucked at the end of a dead-end street, right on the water, Quinn’s is a classic sea-faring cozy restaurant overlooking a marina. The building itself is quite historic, dating back to the 19th century. The décor is just about what one would hope for: almost all wood with unobtrusive lighting and views of boats rocking back and forth in the water. Quinn’s is split-level, with a straight restaurant downstairs and a pub upstairs. Both floors serve the same (extensive and varied) menu.

The first thing one notices when entering Quinn’s is the personality of the decor: quirky and fun doodads on the walls, wood construction, brass bar treatments, and, upstairs in the pub (where I ate at the bar), piles and piles of discarded peanut shells. These piles create a wonderful charm that says “we never take ourselves too seriously” Having said this, I might like to see some of the piles a bit smaller, as a few of them eclipsed a sense of charm and appeared downright unsightly. Granted, I was there on the day before they were supposed to sweep all of the shells from the entire last week.

It is easy to relax at Quinn’s — the ceilings are low, the food is comfort food, the drinks are excellent, and the people are friendly.

I spent more than two hours there for lunch on a Saturday afternoon and had a more than positive experience from top to bottom. Quinn’s succeeds in its goal of providing a reliable and well-prepared meal in a welcoming atmosphere.

The clam chowder was worthy of the best seaside mom-and-pop chowder places in Maine. It is buttery and creamy without skimping on clams and without being over the top. It was the winner of all the dishes I had, in my opinion.

The onion soup was not stupendous, but above par. Onion soup is tricky to cook and its taste can vary dramatically from one establishment to another. Quinn’s has made their soup work because the taste is precisely what people want: not too rich and not wimpy.

The half bucket of clams was still simmering when it was served. Another New England classic — garlic, butter, clams. The clams were cooked perfectly, although the flavor was maybe just a wee bit bland.

The burger is broiled, which guarantees a good presentation of the meat without sacrificing flavor. The burger is sizeable: eight ounces, which is appropriate, and is served on a standard sesame seed bun. There is something so reassuring about a burger and fries that is not overdone with snobbery, yet which also does not run short on taste.

Finally, the mini sundae was a win. Kudos to Quinn’s for offering smaller desserts, so that you leave satisfied and not grossly overstuffed. The sundae was flavorful and well-prepared and well-balanced in its simplicity.

One other win for me was the Kolsch beer that our server, Amber, recommended. It had to have been one of the best Kolsch-style beers I’ve drunk in my (lengthy) beer-drinking life. Thank you, Amber!

I would definitely return to Quinn’s. Every person I encountered was friendly, greeted me with a smile, and offered to help. That goes a long way to ensuring a return experience. The food was reliable, prepared very well, served in just the right amount of time, and delicious. It should also be reiterated that the menu is extensive — there is something for everyone: pasta, meats, vegetarian dishes, seafood, appetizers, side dishes, desserts, beer, wine, full bar, etc. There is nothing missing here. And the menu is assembled with care, noting Quinn’s signature dishes and heart-healthy dishes with a lighthouse and mini-heart icons; a considerate touch.

The environment was relaxing and real: views of the marina and the channel, music lightly playing in the background, and perfect bar and grill lighting.

The price was appropriate and fair for each item. When you pay a fair price for a great experience, you end up feeling respected by the proprietors, and, in my opinion, that is missing from more than a few dining establishments in the Bay Area.

Sitting there at the bar on a quiet and rainy Saturday afternoon, casually chatting with our competent and friendly server, listening to locals say hi to one another, and watching people eat a burger or pasta and sip a drink…I knew I would be offering my business to Quinn’s Lighthouse again in the future.

Great job, Quinn’s — keep up the good work.


Maria Arega
Name: Maria
Occupation: Superstar Mother of Three
Location: El Sobrante
Favorite Restaurant: Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
Reviewed Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub: Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My husband, our three children, and I came to Quinn’s on our way back from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We arrived around 4:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon. There was ample parking on the street. We walked into the restaurant and it seemed deserted. Where was everyone? We waited for about 3 minutes, but no one showed up to help us. I heard laughter from around the corner, so I peeked around the hostess station to find two of the restaurant employees sitting at a table. I asked if they were open and they told me that yes, they were open. So, we waited for a moment before one of them stepped around the corner and said, “You can go upstairs.” To which I replied that we wanted to eat in the restaurant, not the pub. They said that the dining room was closed, but it was the same menu upstairs. No problem, we’re flexible. Upstairs we trudged, with our appetites at the ready and our newly acquired Seafood Watch — a pocket guide to sustainable seafood. My kids were so excited to put this guide to use!

The first thing we noticed was the peanut shells all over the floor. There were only two other people dining. The decor is pretty much the same as downstairs: old school brass, ropes, and dark wood captain’s chairs. I noticed a patio door with tables outside and made a beeline for it. Beautiful! The weather was beautiful and the views were outstanding — directly on the estuary, with sweeping views that include downtown Oakland in the distance. The deck, too, is covered in peanut shells. I found the peanut shells to be fun, my husband disliked them, and my kids couldn’t believe that a restaurant actually wanted people to throw stuff on the floor! They had great fun eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor.

We waited for a server for about five minutes. I was enjoying being outside, so I wasn’t too bothered by this. Our menus were brought to us, and our drink orders taken. We perused the menu, which is pretty extensive. There were so many interesting items I couldn’t wait to try them! Unfortunately, we had to wait another ten minutes before our drinks were brought out, and our orders taken. I really felt like eating seafood, so I first inquired about the fish and chips. Our server said that they were good, but it didn’t sound like he really thought so. We asked what kind of fish was used, and he told us “Alaskan Pollock”. We asked where it was from and he told us, “I guess Alaska”. So much for using our Seafood Watch Guide! I told him that he didn’t sound enthusiastic about the fish and chips and he told me that there were better things on the menu. He said that the steaks were really good. I was not in the mood for steak, so I asked him what the best seafood dish was. He said that it was the Gratin of Seafood Newburg. It sounded good to me, so I ordered that along with an appetizer of “Quinn’s famous garlic chicken wings” and a bowl of seafood chowder for my daughter and I to share.

Our food took a while to arrive, it may have seemed like forever because of our three hungry kids. The appetizer arrived first and the chicken wings were ok. Not mindblowing, but ok. I couldn’t wait for my dish, which was on the menu as a gratin of Dungeness crab, scallops, prawns, and bay shrimps in a creamy lobster bisque sauce with dry sherry and fresh mushrooms, topped with seasoned bread crumbs, served over savoury wild rice mixture with a side of garlic bread. When I got my dish, I was surprised that it was a tomato-based dish. What? Where was the “gratin” in this gratin? Where was the creamy lobster bisque sauce? Hmmmmmm. Strange, but I dug in with reckless abandon, only to be completely nonplussed. On the bad side, the dish tasted like Rice-a-Roni in flavor. On the good side, it was chock full of seafood that wasn’t overcooked, albeit missing the advertised prawns. The flavor of the savory wild rice overpowered this dish. The garlic bread that accompanied it was better tasting than the dish itself. I did not come close to finishing it.

Okay, time to move on to my daughter’s seafood chowder. She seemed to be enjoying it. I tried it, and again, another disappointment. Creamy, but not flavorful. Darn! I so wanted to really like something! Oh, wait! I did enjoy the house salad that came with my entree. Very good housemade dressing. My son ordered plain pasta from the kid’s menu and ate all of it, no complaints from him. My husband ordered a hamburger that he said was ok, not the best, but not the worst.

In summary, our food was average at best. The portions were good. The entrees seemed a bit overpriced, especially after tasting them. The service was spotty. Very nice server, but not too attentive. The atmosphere seemed fun in the pub. Nice bar. I didn’t get to try the beer, but they had many to choose from. Lots to look at. Funny signs and decorations. The downstairs dining room seemed a bit more elegant with nice views. We talked with our server, who was very nice. He gave us as much history on the place as he knew. He told us that it gets very crowded on the weekends. An old Oakland institution, he said. Would I return? No. Would I recommend? Only for the pub.

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