A Questionable Mother’s Day at Quarterdeck Restaurant on Shelter Island

by on May 9, 2022 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach

Quarterdeck Restaurant
Bay Club Hotel and Marina
2131 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

By Judi Curry

Sometimes things happen that leave you shaking your head in  amazement, astonishment, disappointment, or confusion.  One seldom expects that when making a reservation for a dining experience, but it happened to us on Mother’s Day, May 8th, 2022.

My daughter Michele asked me if I wanted to go out for Mother’s Day breakfast, and, if so where did I want to go.  Since my other daughters and their families were not available to join us, I said that it would be nice for her and Lawson and Steve and I to go out to eat somewhere near the water and outside, weather permitting.

After seeing what was available, she decided that the Quarterdeck Restaurant was a perfect place to go; they were serving breakfast until 11:00am – brunch after that – and the breakfast menu looked good.  A positive factor was that they would take our reservation.

Eggs Benedict. All photos by Judi Curry

On Wednesday she was called by the restaurant to confirm our reservations at 10:30 am not once, but twice.  Steve asked me what types of food they had so on Saturday evening I checked their listing on-line and read to him the breakfast offerings.  I also noticed that the brunch menu started at 11:00; the cost was $75 per adult,  and there was no seating between 10-11:00am. I figured that all of the breakfast reservations were filled and there was no more room for casual eaters.

Steve and I arrived a few minutes before Michele and Lawson and we were shown to a beautiful table inside but almost on the water’s edge. We were given printed Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch menus and I said it was before 11:00 and could we have the breakfast menu. The person that seated us said she was sorry, but there was no breakfast menu today.  I told her what I read, and she said that there was no breakfast at all that day; only the brunch.

About that time Michele and Lawson arrived and she was filled in on my discovery.  She excused herself and went to talk to the manager, who, in effect, repeated what the server seating people said. He said that he didn’t have control over what was on-line; she said that she was called twice to confirm her 10:30am reservation, etc.

She asked – again through the person seating us – if there could be some financial consideration. After all, items on the breakfast menu were $15 each, compared to $75 each for the brunch – a difference of $240.  The answer came back as “no.”

oysters and shrimp

The four of us talked it over, and decided that at that late hour we would not find a restaurant nearby that was only serving breakfast, let alone even have seating on Mother’s Day.  We grumbled and decided to stay there.  In retrospect even that now is questionable.

The buffet menu did include breakfast items – omelet station, Eggs Benedict, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit and assorted pastries. There was Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder and a variety of salads including Macaroni, Caesar, and Garden salad.

Their side dishes included chilled salmon, peel and eat shrimp, crab cakes, oysters on the half shell, etc.  The entrees included turkey, prime rib and Ham, along with baked sea bass, chicken Marsala, and shrimp and bacon mac ‘n cheese.  The desserts were limited to cookies, carrot cake and chocolate cake.

There was never ending coffee, champagne and/or mimosa’s.

So… what was the food like anyway?

The Clam Chowder was tasty with a lot of clams in it but it was luke warm.  Lawson said the Lobster Bisque was good.  I wanted to have some oysters, but there was not a serving fork on top of the open faced oysters. I had some of the shrimp but the sauce was 4 feet down the table and I almost missed it. (When I went back to try other items the sauce had been moved but there was still no serving fork at the oyster display.)

macaroni salad and salmon

The labels for what was being served was also strange; some were on the back side of the table; some were on the front side of the table. You couldn’t go down one side knowing what was in front of you or you could do what I did – ask someone on the other side what was in that pan in front of them.

Although the buffet had just opened up, the Eggs Benedict looked – and tasted – like they had been cooked an hour earlier and were just being kept warm until it was open time. They were tasty, however, but I like my food hot.

The servers were friendly; concerned and frequently asked if we needed anything.  They were slow in removing used dishes from the table and at one time Steve had 5 plates piled up in front of him. (I added my plates to his pile because I thought they would be picked up sooner.)

Michele had asked that the manager come and see us when she had the first conversation about the buffet vs breakfast. No one came to see us so she asked again for the manager to come to our table.  This time James, the Director of Food and Beverage, came to our table and again said that he had no control over the 3rd party listing. He said that he thought that people would know that for a holiday like Easter or Mother’s Day there would be only brunch served.

This conversation went back and forth and Michele asked if he could discount the check, and at first he said “no.”  He then came back and said he would take 20% off the bill, which Michele accepted.  Then he came back and told us he had taken one full meal off. She told him how much she appreciated it — but we all felt that gesture should have come sooner, and he should have made it, rather than her needing to ask for it.

To make an even unsatisfactory experience worse, take a look at the letter she received from Open Table upon our leaving the restaurant.

Will be go back to the Quarterdeck?  No.  Will we use Open Table again? No.  Not after receiving that missive.

Michele and I have decided that one of us will make breakfast next year.  One does not need this kind of grief on a day that should be of love and happiness.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb May 9, 2022 at 11:21 am

Judy, I have had nothing but positive experiences with Open Table, which I cannot say with my experiences with other dining reservation services. With another service, I never appeared to successfully make a reservation and received no confirmation so I thought that I did not need to worry about the cancellation fee. Wrong!

I understand that Open Table’s response was not appropriate, but the way I read it the restaurant called you a no-show. That’s not Open Table’s fault, particularly given that two phone calls directly to the restaurant to verify the reservations were made. I’d encourage you to give Open Table another chance (but not the Quarterdeck).


judith curry May 9, 2022 at 11:42 am

Thanks for your comment Paul. I agree with you in that it was, again, an error on the part of the restaurant. However, I object to the wording of Open Table’s note. There are many “nicer” ways to send me to the principal.


Tina May 9, 2022 at 11:36 am

This is super misleading. You don’t mention that you made the reservation through OpenTable until the end. The restaurant had no reason to give you a discount, you should have at least double checked with the actual restaurant before making the reservation or when they called to confirm. They aren’t responsible for the third party.


judith curry May 9, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Are you kidding? The reservations were made using the website of the restaurant itself. The two times that Michele was called to verify our reservation was by people that introduced themselves as employees of the Quarterdeck. The website stated that breakfast was served only until 11:00am; Mother’s Day Brunch would be served from 11-4:00pm. IF breakfast was not being served at 10:30, when we had our reservation, we should have been told that. The reservation was taken for breakfast. If it was not going to be served the reservation should not have been taken. And of course they are responsible – that’s where the “3rd party” gets their information from. Remember – the employees called twice and twice she was told our BREAKFAST RESERVATION was confirmed.


Greg May 9, 2022 at 12:54 pm

This article was a satirical masterpiece and I glad the commitment from the author has continued in the comments. A+


GML May 9, 2022 at 1:28 pm

I agree that the restaurant did all it could/should do to accommodate your family and deal with the confusion. Unfortunately this review seems a bit “entitled” to me. I do understand that you were upset/disappointed that they weren’t offering a standard breakfast. But you also did have the option to not eat there.


Voltairian May 9, 2022 at 1:47 pm

Rough life you have, thanks for sharing and condolences. Thanks for the laughs!


Geoff Page May 9, 2022 at 2:05 pm

I’ve been told by folks in the business that it is standard practice for most restaurants to alter their menus on days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Easter and other such holidays. Considering your field is restaurant reviews, one would think you would know this, like the Director of Food and Beverage said.


judith curry May 9, 2022 at 4:16 pm

Geoff, we went there because their website said “breakfast until 11:00.” Mother’s Day Brunch 11:00-4:00. As a somewhat intelligent person, I suspect that if you were to read the same thing that you would believe that you could get breakfast before the brunch started.


kh May 9, 2022 at 3:15 pm

The restaurant should’ve made their special menu/hours clear on their website, or at least when speaking over the phone.

Waiting until the guests have arrived, and exhausted their chance to eat anywhere else but Taco Bell, is unprofessional. Glad they at least comped one of the meals, but it sounds like it wasn’t enough to keep you as a customer. I wouldn’t fault the reservation service, it sounds like they met their obligations. Perhaps they should add a link on their statement to encourage feedback in the event there is something they are missing.


judith curry May 9, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Thank you, KH. If the food had tasted better, we might have tried it again, but the feeling that it was “catering to the Mother’s Day crowd” and the quality was not what a $75 meal should be, was a turn-off. Too many places nearby that have better tasting food.


Andrea Murphy May 10, 2022 at 12:58 am

I’m glad you wrote what you did. I am so sick & tired of Restaurants, getting away w Substandard food on Special days. Also, False Advertising too. I would have Screenshot the Bay Clubs info & showed it to managers. They Also knew it too. I would also encourage people to obtain the Ne of the Person or person’s you speak within the phone. So you have a name to back up what was said to you. This is horrible. The Bay Club has always been a C + type of place, imo. Or at Best a B- -. I haven’t gone there in about eight yrs. I quit eating out on Holidays because it’s just another Excuse to raise prices for Substandard fare.. Especially at shelter Island Restaurants. .. ALL of them, ALL.


Chris May 10, 2022 at 10:34 am

Except for Fathom. The don’t do that (raise their prices for holidays) and their food is always good.


Margaret May 10, 2022 at 4:19 pm

Hey Chris. Do mention fathom has great sausages and very little else?. Inside seating for 6-8?. Great beer?


Chris May 11, 2022 at 7:17 am

They have a pretty extensive menu but not much in the way of sides other than chips: https://fathombistro.com/eats/
Great beer list but you need to check their facebook page for the latest on tap.
There is some indoor seating but very little. Always a favorite place to bike for some beer and grub.


Frank J May 10, 2022 at 5:12 am

Judith… 100% on your side. This is 2022. My expectations in dealing with any business these days always start low with the hopes of being pleasantly surprised. Cognizant and omniscient management would have instructed OpenTable and Q employees prior to the holiday. I, too, would have spoken to a manager and it seems your result was adequate. The restaurant saw the Mother’s Day demand coming, set a high round number putting profit first, and didn’t deliver. Lesson?


Paul Webb May 10, 2022 at 5:48 am

There are a few days out of the year where I avoid dining in restaurants, and Mother’s Day is at the top of the list, along with Valentine’s day. It’s really sad that on a day you want to dedicate to someone special you are “treated” to an overpriced and generally underwhelming meal in crowded, rushed surroundings. I always picture servers armed with backpack sprayers filled with Mimosas, lukewarm food held too long in chafing dishes over sterno burners that have gone out, serving options that are less food safe than I would prefer, etc.

I have long told my spouse that I will take her out whenever she wants, but not on certain holidays when the holiday tradition is sub-par experiences.

Judy, my earlier comments were to try to encourage you to give Open Table another chance. I’m sorry you felt let down by the service’s response message, but this was really not their fault. They got you what they promised, a reserved table at your chosen time and place. The rest is on the restaurant.


Saidy May 10, 2022 at 6:34 pm

We celebrated Mother’s Day the day before. No crowds, and the food was hot, fresh and as described on the menu. We don’t ever try to dine out for the highly sought after dinner reservations on high demand days. It’s just not worth it.


Terrie Leigh Relf May 11, 2022 at 2:25 pm

I hope you still enjoyed each other’s company, Judi!
Happy belated Mother’s Day!
I’ve never been to that restaurant or used that service . . .


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