Love, Interrupted, at Quinn's
When my date suggested Quinn's for dinner, I shuddered. It's not that the restaurant has a bad reputation or anything, it's just the thought of eating on Ocean Drive at the height of tourist season for a local is as appealing as getting stuck on the MacArthur during a checkpoint at midnight.
I never challenged his decision to dine there, however, believing that a gal who proved herself difficult right off the bat stood no chance for further romance. Besides, he was an out-of-towner facing the daunting task of having to take out a woman who has eaten her way around the city. But as it turns out, I should've opened my big mouth and suggested another place. Then again, he should've shared a few bits of pertinent information with me, too, before I spent the time getting all gussied up for this date.
I met Mr. Connecticut in a suite at Sun Life Stadium during a Dolphins game. (He'd say it was during a Patriots game, but at this point I no longer care what he has to say. Harrumph.) I was there with a girlfriend investigating Garcia's catered spread for a story and there he was, wearing a buttoned-up polo and khakis and sitting at a table with another guy dressed the same. It didn't take me long to surmise he wasn't from around these here parts. And after walking through LIV earlier and seeing the abundance of Ed Hardy-clad juiceheads and middle-aged cads seeking arm candy younger than their daughters, the thought of flirting with a preppy out-of-towner seemed appealing.
He asked for my number and we later exchanged a few calls, e-mails and texts before he was back in town again for business and our first date was finally set. Then, there we were at Quinn's on a cool night, he looking delicious and me getting happier by the minute that a Prince Charming had finally appeared.
"Oooh! Stone crabs!" he declaimed seconds after opening the menu. "We never get those back home. Let's order up a few." Soon we were presented with fresh pinchers from the sea, accompanied by a bowl of tangy mustard-lime sauce and some zippy jalapeño cocktail sauce. I washed the meat down with a mediocre mojito, he had a Stella Artois.
The server arrived and we asked if "Chef Quinn's Famous Bam! Bam! Shrimp" was similar to the "Bang Bang Shrimp," A Fish Called Avalon serves. (I guess AFCA called dibs on that moniker after Quinn split and opened up his own place right next door). By the time our soul-less Caesar salads were halfway gone, we had already chatted about our careers, hobbies, favorite foods, and parents. My spirits were rising steadily and then--abrupt stop--a homeless guy leans over and bugs us both for change so he can buy himself a beer. Grr. My date apologized for not having money to spare (which is a difficult argument to support when dining al fresco at any restaurant on Ocean Drive) and we got back to our conversation. My palms started to sweat. I stopped hearing my date's words and dove deep into his eyes for a moment. Peace. Then--abrupt stop--some chick in a tube top with a flashing-LED basket asks him if he'd like a cigar. He declines. We proceed. He asks me questions and constantly sprinkles in comments like, "That's incredible!", "Wow, how impressive!", and, my personal favorite, "You're, like, the perfect woman!" I'm eating this stuff up fast. And just as the two-piece band started wailing out "Brown-Eyed Girl" three-feet away from our table (yes three feet), the meal arrived. His crab-crusted mahi and my mango barbecue-glazed salmon looked great and our first impressions are mostly positive. Both dishes arrive lukewarm, but the flavors were appetizing enough and the presentation was decent.
But who cared about the food? I had finally found myself a tall, handsome, seriously nice guy who made me laugh, acted like a gentleman, and seemed to think I was the bee's knees! Oh my gawd! Could he be...? Then, in a flash, it hit me: that instinctive slap that tells a girl something is very, very, very wrong.
"Uh, I never asked you this... And I know this is silly... but... are you married? I didn't see a ring ..."
His response blindsided me: "Well, yeah. But I guess you can say we're separated. We're not sure where we are in the relationship."
My heart sank fast as the lump of seafood wedged firmly in my esophagus refused to budge. "Divorced" I can handle. "Divorcing" is open for discussion. "Separated, I guess," is a deal breaker.
"Thank you for dinner, but I deserve more than to become someone's long-distance booty call, especially when that someone is still married," I announced flatly and rose from the table. As I walked out, trying not to crumble from disappointment, our server caught my eye and looked down at the dessert menus in his hand, not sure what to do with them. I felt badly for interrupting the guy's routine. But at any restaurant on Ocean Drive, interruptions have to be expected, I guess.
Quinn's/Patriot Date Rating
Hip Factor: 0/5
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Miami dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.