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  • Queen of the Sea

    Post #1 - December 16th, 2005, 3:23 pm
    Post #1 - December 16th, 2005, 3:23 pm Post #1 - December 16th, 2005, 3:23 pm
    Queen of the Sea is one of the grand old names in Chicago soul food. Fifty years ago it was right in the center of things on 47th only blocks from the Regal Theater. More recently it was at the corner of 87th and Stony. Several years ago I posted a short review of The Queen at that location. It closed not long after and I assumed we’d lost another classic, joining Gladys’ Luncheonette and so many others. Then earlier this year I was thrilled to see it reopen on Cottage Grove in a food-dense area, within a block of Uncle Joe’s Jerk, Captain Curt’s BBQ, Leon’s BBQ, and Dat Donut.

    The new Queen of the Sea is quite a bit smaller than before and is set up a little differently. There are only three tables, a small counter, and two window booths (for dining in, these are your best bet to avoid the people milling about waiting for takeout). It’s still an all-you-can-eat buffet but now the steam table is behind glass and attendants dish up the food, generously. In addition to all you can eat ($8.25), dinners of a main and two sides (around $6) are available. As before, take out appears to be a popular option. A small salad bar, including such things as pickled beets, jalapeños and banana pudding, is available to those who eat in.

    My Tray at Queen of the Sea
    Image

    The iceberg lettuce salad, really nothing special itself, was greatly elevated when covered with homemade pickled beets and onions. The side dishes on the buffet included greens, dressing, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, steamed cabbage, corn, and sweet potatoes. I tried the first 4 and was generally pleased. I think the sides might all be meatless, not uncommon at Chicago soul food restaurants, in deference to those who don’t eat pork. The beans in particular I thought would have benefited from a hint of the hog but they were perfectly cooked, neither mushy nor underdone. The greens perked up nicely with a dash or two of the homemade hot vinegar found on each table. I was less pleased with the beef short ribs, not nearly as good as I remember from the old Queen, a bit tough and chewy. Other mains included ham hocks, smothered turkey wings, fried chicken, and pork ribs (but no sea food). I regret not trying more but I was getting full and had already dished out a large bowl of banana pudding. It was worth saving room for, with plenty of vanilla wafers and nice ripe bananas.

    I have to say I liked the old Queen better, especially the serve-yourself aspect and more spacious dining area. Having only visited the new place once, I can’t say for sure how the food compares. I think it’s much the same as before, not everything is top-notch but it’s solid home-style cooking and a terrific value if you’re hungry and want to try a wide variety. I know I left full and happy that cold night.

    Queen of the Sea
    8154 S Cottage Grove Av
    Chicago
    773-221-3711
    Open every day (including holidays) 6am-10pm
    Last edited by Rene G on February 6th, 2007, 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - December 16th, 2005, 5:45 pm
    Post #2 - December 16th, 2005, 5:45 pm Post #2 - December 16th, 2005, 5:45 pm
    hey Rene,

    Wasn't there a Queen of the Sea at 51st & Harper for a while (at the location that became a Kenny's)?
  • Post #3 - December 17th, 2005, 1:28 pm
    Post #3 - December 17th, 2005, 1:28 pm Post #3 - December 17th, 2005, 1:28 pm
    Thanks for the head's up. I always found the food at Queen of the Sea to be far superior to that of its former neighbor, The Soul Queen.

    It's good to know that they're reopened.

    i had a great meal last night at Priscilla's Ultimate Soul Food in Hillside. the Chicken was crispy and spicy, the greens were loaded with fatback.
  • Post #4 - December 20th, 2005, 7:13 pm
    Post #4 - December 20th, 2005, 7:13 pm Post #4 - December 20th, 2005, 7:13 pm
    zim wrote:Wasn't there a Queen of the Sea at 51st & Harper for a while (at the location that became a Kenny's)?

    Maybe you’re thinking of Sea Fruit? I believe that was there before Island Delites which was before Kenny’s. The only old Queen of the Sea locations I know of are 47th & Indiana and 87th & Stony but it’s very possible there were others. Queen of the Sea often gets its name confused. I was reading an interview with an older resident of 47th Street and he kept calling it Chicken of the Sea.

    YourPalWill wrote:Thanks for the head's up. I always found the food at Queen of the Sea to be far superior to that of its former neighbor, The Soul Queen.

    If you visit be sure to let us know what you think. I’m not yet ready to say it’s as good as it used to be (or that it’s not).
  • Post #5 - December 21st, 2005, 8:36 pm
    Post #5 - December 21st, 2005, 8:36 pm Post #5 - December 21st, 2005, 8:36 pm
    ReneG wrote:

    "I think the sides might all be meatless, not uncommon at Chicago soul food restaurants, in deference to those who don’t eat pork. The beans in particular I thought would have benefited from a hint of the hog. . ."


    ReneG -- Your elegant (and quotable) assessment of the beans at Queen of the Sea reminds me of two satisfactory solutions for vegetables where pork is missed: a smoked turkey leg (leftover from that excessive BBQ order-- no sauce), or a sheet of kombu for a vegetarian alternative.
    Both impart a smoky quality and a trace of umami.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.

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