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Luella's Southern Kitchen - Lincoln Square Southern Food

Luella's Southern Kitchen - Lincoln Square Southern Food
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  • Luella's Southern Kitchen - Lincoln Square Southern Food

    Post #1 - February 5th, 2015, 6:13 pm
    Post #1 - February 5th, 2015, 6:13 pm Post #1 - February 5th, 2015, 6:13 pm
    There's a new addition to the burgeoning Lincoln Square food scene. It's Luella's Southern Kitchen located across the street from the Davis Theater on Lincoln Ave.

    Luella's is a new venture from former corporate/hotel chef Darnell Reed. The food is loosely based on the recipes of his great grandmother Luella, but chef Reed has taken her original family recipes and upgraded them with cheffy sensibilities gained through his kitchen experience and extensive travels in the south and beyond.

    The restaurant is sort of a fast-casual setup where you order at the counter and then the food is cooked to order and delivered to your table. Although Luella's has only been open for a couple of days, things are already humming along pretty well. The menu is not very extensive at this point, but what they have, at least the portion of the menu we were able to sample, is excellent.

    Luella's Southern Kitchen
    Image

    I started with a bowl of She Crab Soup. The soup was served in a nice earthenware bowl which came to the table with a toast point and a small amount of crab meat on top. The soup itself was brought in a small pitcher and poured tableside by the same person who took our order at the cash register. A nice touch.

    Luella's She Crab Soup
    Image

    Even though this looks like a study in beige, the reality is that the soup is rich and seafood forward. You can tell that there were some shells involved in making the shrimp & mussel based stock that was the base of the soup. There was an abundance of crab bits as well. This was an excellent bowl of soup requiring only a splash of hot sauce to make it great.

    My dining companion had a bowl of chicken gumbo.

    Luella's Chicken Gumbo
    Image

    A well seasoned dark roux was the star of the show, which also included some very good sausage along with the chicken. The chef mentioned that he was thinking about including some seafood in future versions. Like the she crab soup, the gumbo was poured tableside.

    We split an order of biscuits and sorghum. These are among the better biscuits being served in Chicago, though they don't quite stack up to some of the ones I've had recently in North Carolina and points south.

    Luella's Biscuits
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    For our mains, we got a fried green tomato BLT and an order of shrimp & grits.

    Luella's Fried Green Tomato BLT
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    To my taste, the sandwich was dominated by a little too much "L", and I didn't care for the bacon, which was too smoky for my liking. My dining companion on the other hand, being the lover of vegetables, was all over it. This sandwich wasn't bad by any means, but I think it paled compred to some of the other dishes.

    Luella's Shrimp & Grits
    Image

    I absolutely loved every part of the shrimp & grits, though. Every component of this dish was out of this world; from the perfectly cooked plump shrimp to the creamy grits with (I think) a touch of cheese. This dish should go into the grit hall of fame! The sauce, like the she crab soup, had a very seafood forward taste to it and really complemented the dish.

    Luella's is a great addition to Lincoln Square, filling a niche that needed filling; namely a reasonably priced casual place in Lincoln Square to grab a lunch or dinner (especially lunch) that's not Thai, a burger or bar food. I think Luella's will evolve as time goes on with new menu items and (maybe?) wi fi.

    Luella's Southern Kitchen
    4609 North Lincoln
    Chicago Illinois 60625
    773-961-8196
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 6:31 pm
    Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 6:31 pm Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 6:31 pm
    Dining companion here--yup, I loved it. Comfortable space, both soups and the shrimp & grits were truly knockouts. I did enjoy the BLT--in particular I liked that it wasn't over-stuffed and everything stayed integrated--nice kicky remoulade-style mayo, very tasty fried green tomato and I didn't find the bacon to be over the top. It wasn't a huge sandwich though so I could see it being, perhaps, a bit lower on the value side at $11. It did come with McD's style fries but those weren't anything to write home (or on LTH) about.

    And, ladies, the staff, including Chef Reed are...um...very easy on the eyes :wink: Hey, if the guys can say it...

    Looking forward to returning to Luella's!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 2:24 pm
    Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 2:24 pm Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 2:24 pm
    This place sounds like a winner.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 3:58 pm
    Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 3:58 pm Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 3:58 pm
    We split an order of biscuits and sorghum. These are among the better biscuits being served in Chicago, though they don't quite stack up to some of the ones I've had recently in North Carolina and points south.


    ooooo, a biscuit contender! Steve - how did they compare to the ones KB made at our chicken tasting? I need to check them out - Chicago is seriously lacking in good biscuits... these guys are very close to The Budlong Pickle & Chicken Shop we're opening.... Lincoln Square - the new South of the North?
    I love comfortable food, and comfortable restaurants.
    http://www.bbqsupply.com
    http://thebudlong.com
    http://denveraf.com
  • Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 4:15 pm
    Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 4:15 pm Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 4:15 pm
    rubbbqco wrote:Steve - how did they compare to the ones KB made at our chicken tasting?


    Not close, but KB set the bar ridiculously high. You should check this place out, though. It's well worth a visit or two. I hope to make my way through more of the menu in the coming weeks.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 4:53 pm
    Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 4:53 pm Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 4:53 pm
    Steve - text me when you wanna go - I'm right down the street (i'll pm my number)
    I love comfortable food, and comfortable restaurants.
    http://www.bbqsupply.com
    http://thebudlong.com
    http://denveraf.com
  • Post #7 - February 7th, 2015, 12:32 pm
    Post #7 - February 7th, 2015, 12:32 pm Post #7 - February 7th, 2015, 12:32 pm
    Also worth noting it's BYO and no corkage fee. Feel free to add that to the original post and delete this one.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #8 - February 10th, 2015, 4:46 pm
    Post #8 - February 10th, 2015, 4:46 pm Post #8 - February 10th, 2015, 4:46 pm
    Had lunch there today: shrimp and grits, fried catfish tacos, beignets, and coffee. I really liked the shrimp and grits, and if they do a fried catfish entree, I'd definitely order it. The tacos were excellent, but left me wanting more catfish. Beignets aren't as light as what I've had in New Orleans, but good and nicely complemented by the La Colombe coffee. Staff is very friendly. I will return soon.
  • Post #9 - May 8th, 2015, 8:23 pm
    Post #9 - May 8th, 2015, 8:23 pm Post #9 - May 8th, 2015, 8:23 pm
    Finally was able to try Luella's this evening. I had the She Crab soup and chicken and waffles, my companion had the fried green tomato BLT and we split an order of biscuits. The soup was excellent and definitely something I'd order again, lots of seafood flavor and hunks of crab. I'll admit I'm kicking myself for not thinking of hot sauce before seeing it upthread :) The chicken and waffles was fair, three fist-sized waffles with boneless friend chicken. The liege waffle was very good, though I didn't get a big bourbon hit from the maple syrup is was also good. The chicken was mildly disappointing, more fried bits than meat. The biscuits are fantastic, very buttery. The BLT was quite good, a fairly large serving with seasoned fries.
  • Post #10 - June 14th, 2015, 3:56 pm
    Post #10 - June 14th, 2015, 3:56 pm Post #10 - June 14th, 2015, 3:56 pm
    Luella's + a show at the Old Town School makes a nice 1-2 punch.

    And be sure to check out the former Krause Music Store next door at 4611 - Louis Sullivan's last design.
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #11 - November 6th, 2017, 12:08 pm
    Post #11 - November 6th, 2017, 12:08 pm Post #11 - November 6th, 2017, 12:08 pm
    Pre-show at Luella's last night. Shrimp and grits for me; Mississippi tamales (Slagel Braised Short Rib, Chili, Anson Mills Masa, House Tamale Spice) for Mr. X plus a side of corn bread. Some of the best shrimp and grits I've had. The tamales were good as well. The fried chicken looked great, but the last order had been sold by the time we got there at 5:50 PM. The food was great, but know that it's not the place to go if you're on a schedule, or at least beware if a couple of large tables ordered before you. ;-)

    http://www.luellassouthernkitchen.com/
    -Mary
  • Post #12 - May 5th, 2018, 8:59 am
    Post #12 - May 5th, 2018, 8:59 am Post #12 - May 5th, 2018, 8:59 am
    I'm disappointed to see I've never posted about Luella's (perhaps because I've rarely taken pictures there). I live about a 5-minute walk from the place, I've been there countless times, and it really just keeps getting better and better, and with some of the nicest folks I've come across. And . . . it's byo!

    Last night we started with the buttermilk biscuits, served with what I think was a strawberry-rhubarb jam, definitely house-made. The biscuits are sensational - a slightly crispy exterior lends to a pillowy center, hot and fresh, big and delicious.

    Image



    For my entree, I had the creole catfish, which I had not tried before. It's about as good as catfish can be. Is HSG (holy shit good!) a thing? The catfish is fried, with a fairly thick crust, and the creole sauce is more akin to a glaze with a delicious, mustardy tang. It all yields to perfectly tender catfish. And it's a huge portion, served with dressed, fresh arugula (with benne seeds) on the side.

    Image



    I would also describe the smoked jerk chicken mac & cheese with fried chicken skins as HSG. The pasta was not overcooked, the sauce was just thin enough, and the flavors of jerk and smoke just enough to season the dish without overpowering. I can't think of a mac & cheese I've enjoyed more than this.

    Image



    And of course, braised collard greens. Perfectly cooked, nice chunks of pork - just try to stop eating this.

    Image



    And if you don't byo, or you just care for a little sugar, cherry coke & root beer are served too.

    Image



    I'll also note that the lines, which once could be slightly daunting, have all but disappeared. Last night at 7pm on a gorgeous Friday night my friend and I walked in to find half the restaurant empty. My last visit there was during the middle part of the week at about 6:30 and it was no more than a third full. So go, and byo.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #13 - May 5th, 2018, 9:04 am
    Post #13 - May 5th, 2018, 9:04 am Post #13 - May 5th, 2018, 9:04 am
    A new one for the slang dictionary:
    Is HSG (holy shit good!) a thing?
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - May 5th, 2018, 11:57 am
    Post #14 - May 5th, 2018, 11:57 am Post #14 - May 5th, 2018, 11:57 am
    BR wrote:I would also describe the smoked jerk chicken mac & cheese with fried chicken skins as HSG. ... I can't think of a mac & cheese I've enjoyed more than this.

    Looks and sounds great. I've long believed that Orecchiette is the optimal choice for mac & cheese. Very efficient surface area while still being the right size for consumption with a spoon.
  • Post #15 - May 11th, 2018, 9:30 am
    Post #15 - May 11th, 2018, 9:30 am Post #15 - May 11th, 2018, 9:30 am
    We had tried to go to Luella's in the past but they were out of biscuits at the time so we ended up at Isla Pilipina that night. The recent posts here spurred us to try again. Unfortunately, we found it underwhelming.

    The biscuits felt freshly baked, but were merely ok. I like a bit of sugar in my biscuit as I think it lifts the flavor and helps the exterior brown better, but Luella's tasted almost entirely unsweetened to me. Instead it is served with an overly sweet, one-note jam. Also the biscuits are too big so the center was not cooked entirely and remained slightly doughy.

    The catfish dish was better but not great. I felt the very crisp breading overwhelmed the tender fish and that the mustard sauce was very timid. It is served with a sad and extremely salty arugula salad. I think my main complaint for this dish, and the restaurant as a whole, would be that it seems a bit pricey when I can get an equally good piece of fried catfish over at Mrs. T's for instance.

    I do agree that they make a very good macaroni and cheese. It has a flavorful cheese mix that manages to be just on the edge of too rich and avoids being gloppy. The jerk chicken didn't really add much jerkiness, however.

    Last, and most certainly least, were the collard greens. This dish hadn't come within ten feet of a grain of salt and was not seasoned with either vinegar or sugar. I would not have doubted it was braised in plain water. The terrible hot sauce they offer at the restaurant was no help in salvaging this dish.

    Some of this experience sounds like bad luck (collard greens and salty arugula), but for a semi-service restaurant the price adds up quickly and nothing had us eager to return.
  • Post #16 - May 16th, 2018, 10:17 pm
    Post #16 - May 16th, 2018, 10:17 pm Post #16 - May 16th, 2018, 10:17 pm
    I visited last weekend and tried the catfish, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese. Catfish was okay, cornbread was very good, but the mac and cheese, while rich and spot-on texturally, was almost unpalatably salty. I'd probably give them another chance, but I'm not in a hurry to return.
  • Post #17 - August 6th, 2018, 8:37 am
    Post #17 - August 6th, 2018, 8:37 am Post #17 - August 6th, 2018, 8:37 am
    More than three years after he opened his first restaurant, chef Darnell Reed — the owner of Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square — has signed a lease to open a second restaurant with a fried chicken focus. Reed plans on opening Luella’s Gospel Bird sometime between October and November in Bucktown. It’s at the former Sublime Sushi spot at 2009 N. Damen Avenue.

    https://chicago.eater.com/2018/8/3/1764 ... d-bucktown
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin

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