Wednesday, 28 January 2009

QUINN'S INN & MORDECAI'S PUB ~ Cornwall (St Andrew's West)

Back to Cornwall - and guess what - wings for lunch and dinner! I was on my own for lunch, and I decided to go back to the nearby village of St Andrews West. There on the main intersection is Quinn's Inn, a historic relic and restaurant/pub.

St Andrews West is marked by a church with a huge steeple on hill, which can be seen for kilometers around. As for Quinn's, well, here is their history as told by them on their website:

"Quinn's Inn was built in 1865 by John Sandfield MacDonald, who served as Ontario's First Premier, from 1867-1871.
Two years before becoming Premier, Mr. MacDonald built a stagecoach stopover on the site of Quinn's Inn. He was laid to rest directly across from Quinn's Inn in the St. Andrew's Cemetery, one of the oldest in Ontario.

Located on what was once the main stagecoach route between Montreal, Kingston and Toronto known variously as the Line Road, the King's Road or Dundas Street. It was Macdonald's wish that the basement of the hotel be kept for use by the parishioners for the serving of lunches after wedding and funerals. The building continued in operation as a hotel until it was gutted by fire in 1879 and was purchased by William and Elizabeth Masterson in 1895, who it is believed, renovated the interior. The building opened under their management as a store, barber's shop and post office a few years later. In 1924 Frank Quinn became owner, followed by his sons Maynard, Alfred and Ernest in 1948. It continued as a general store until 1989 when it was purchased and historically restored by the Quinn family.
Currently Quinn's Inn is owned and operated by the Belmore Family, and we are delighted to serve you.

There are two parts of the establishment, the upstairs, Quinn's Inn, which is a fine dining establishment, and Mordecai's Pub, downstairs in the basement. I wasn't quite sure whether to go in the front or the back doors, but I was at the back, so in I went. I followed the signs and opened the door to the pub. Immediately all eyes were on me. All 10 eyes of the establishment.

I felt very out of place; everyone in there was sitting at the bar, and I don't think any of them were younger than 40. I'm under 30, and I'm sure it looked a little strange, me coming in, sitting in a booth in the corner by myself. A man who looked like Wilford Brimley, who I think was the owner, asked how I was doing, asked for a drink and if I needed a menu. I sat with my back to the room, but I took in the environment around me.

The room feels like a colonial mill or inn, with stone walls, solid wood beams, and big wood tables. There are a few flat screens with 'the game' on, but today, the volume was mute, or basically off. It's not a big room, and it was quite. You could hear every little sound, every conversation, and I took advantage of that.

I listened in on what sounded like the staff meeting of the month. The owner, chef and two others discussed needed repairs and recent business and takes, but I found the talk about food orders and menu changes much more interesting. They sounded like fresh was important to them, however expenses were high, and the only thing I heard that I didn't like was what sounded like the wings were frozen (and a popular item, especially with the Superbowl coming up next weekend). I may have heard wrong, but as I tried later, its very likely they were.

Along with my wings, I saw deep fried pickles on the menu, and I could not resist. They were dusted with lots of spices and served with a thick but rich sour cream. They were super hot, but soo good. The one difficulty with DFP is that you can't just break them in half - you have to bite into them, despite the scorching temperature. 5 came in an order for $6. But enough of the vegetables, on to the wings!

The wings are ordered by the wing, so I decided to go with 10 wings, hot (just to get an idea of the base sauce flavour) with a side of suicide, just in case the suicide sauce isn't good.

The wings were good old fashioned chicken wings. No breading, no dusting, just straight deep fried chicken. They weren't huge, but they were crisp. They were ok in meatiness. But they were a fairly solid wing.

The hot sauce wasn't flowing over the wings. It was tossed very conservatively. I wonder some times when I order wings with one sauce, and get a side sauce, that the chef decides to not sauce the wings in hot very much because of the extra side? Anyways, the hot was a simple cayenne pub hot sauce, but it wasn't hot, maybe a medium or even a mild.

That's why I went with a side of suicide. It was good old 3rd Degree sauce. It was cold (I'm not a fan of cold sauce with hot wings), but as always, it had a nice little bite. But nothing original.

FINAL SCORE: Mordecai's was a neat little pub which gives a historian like me the feeling that your eating in a way-stop from the past. My wings weren't anything special at all, but my deep fried pickles were the shining example of how to deep fry a pickle. I think the upstairs would be a great experience for a fancy night out. 5/10

Quinn's Inn & Mordecai's Pub
17329 Kings Road & Highway 138, St Andrews West, just North of Cornwall.

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