LAMBERTVILLE -- Quimby's Food & Spirits is a lot like Applebee's, but without all the corporate hustle and fanfare.
That's meant as a compliment. The family-friendly atmosphere has something for everyone: from kids eating free on Mondays (12 and younger with the purchase of an adult meal) to the sports fan catching the big game on the unobtrusive TVs.
Two recent visits just across the Michigan border left us with a favorable impression of the establishment coined after the fictional mayor of Springfield, Joe Quimby, on the long-running sit-com The Simpsons.
With that in mind, I couldn't resist ordering the The Homer, an everything-on-it burger -- bacon, cream cheese, barbecue sauce, melted cheddar cheese, and two beer-battered onion rings. While all of that might seem like it would make Homer Simpson slobber in delight, what it actually did was make me say, 'D'oh!' The burger, ordered medium was cooked a little past medium-well, and the taste of the beef was lost in the sea of ingredients. And to top it off, the price is $11.99, so room for error is minimal.
The meal comes with a choice of sides, and I chose sweet potato fries, which seems to be increasingly popular in establishments in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan these days -- and if they're made anything like Quimby's, that's a good thing. They were naturally sweet and filling on their own and didn't need the caramel dipping sauce, which tasted too much like vanilla extract and resembled Italian dressing.
The chicken bruschetta ciabatta sandwich ($9.99) came with sliced grilled chicken, and was juicy; the cheese mixture of Parmesan, provolone, and feta added a nice flare. The balsamic vinaigrette and basil with its favorite companion, tomato, added the sweet and earthy tastes to round out the sandwich on toasted ciabatta. The homemade chips were a great complement, but they could have used more salt.
The fried calamari appetizer ($7.99) had nicely seasoned breading, but was perhaps "flash fried" too long because it was overly chewy. The lemon caper aioli tastes like tartar sauce, but works with this fried seafood dish, and perhaps saved it by making it palatable.
During our second visit, we found the service to be slower than the first, which was exemplary. We decided to chalk it up to the restaurant having a busier weeknight than usual.
The 12-ounce New York strip steak dinner ($20.99), although seasoned well, was varying degrees of done from one end to the other (from medium well to borderline rare). The accompanying mushrooms would have been better if they were sauteed and the side of broccoli also could have used butter. But the garlic-smashed potatoes were good.
The seafood Alfredo ($15.99) had a surprising amount of sweet lobster meat and the sauce was appropriately creamy and comforting. The downside to the dish was overcooked shrimp that were curled up into tight balls and a bit too tough and chewy.
Most likely because it was cooked too long, the Italian meatloaf ($11.99) lost most of its moisture well before it hit the plate. A knife was needed to cut it and plenty of ketchup to hydrate it. The mashed potatoes were drenched in a Worcestershire-like sauce that didn't complement the side dish at all.
Quimby's macaroni and cheese ($10.99) was very creamy, and the mix of cheeses -- Parmesan, cheddar, and Feta -- was very good. The crunchy crust of bread crumbs was prepared well, and there was plenty left over to take home.
If you love the traditional spinach and artichoke dip of most restaurants, note that at Quimby's it is much different. It is primarily a cream cheese dip with a few artichoke hearts and spinach leaves covered with provolone cheese. If you love cream cheese, you'll like this dish, which is served with nice thick, homemade tortilla chips.
Dessert, Andes mint cream pie ($4.99) and fried cheescake ($4.99), were both ordinary.
Quimby's is located at a strip mall at the intersection of Sterns and Secor roads and has a large patio for outdoor dining.
A downtown Toledo location, Quimby's at the Park, 25 S. Huron St., opened last year and has the same owners as the Lambertville operation.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quimby’s Food & Spirits
Address: 3536 Sterns Rd, Lambertville
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday; 11. a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday; 4 through 9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: quimbysfoodandspirits.com41.74901 -83.63067
Lambertville pub on par with some chains.