BY ALYSSA STEVENSON
A little over 5 years ago Tim Love re-opened the Love Shack Denton to become a premier steak house - Queenie’s. Over time their dishes got more flavorful, more interesting, and we figured out that their bar was one of the best kept secrets in town. Now, they have an all new chef, Christopher Alford, who is serving up expertly executed dishes throughout the menu. We’re not only impressed - we’re a little blown away by the quality of craft-fare that is coming out of his kitchen. If you’re starting your year with a vegan-raw diet - look away now.
We’ve been saying for awhile that Queenie’s is one of the best-kept secrets in town - but recently their new chef has been elevating the dishes on the menu to a degree that we aren’t finding anywhere else in town. We’re incredibly impressed by his knack for sauces, perfectly prepared proteins, and flair for the imaginative. Chris has spent time not only in the Tim Love family of restaurants but has also worked in some great kitchens in New Orleans, so he brings a unique experience to the kitchen. So let’s get to the nitty gritty - the dishes we love most.
For starters the Grilled Blue Point Oysters are hard to go wrong with - a great grilled oyster with smoky flavor from the grill, a browned and crisped layer of salty manchego, and a kick from a serrano pepper make a perfect bite to share and start the meal off with. The sweet and salty oysters are never overcooked and are softly waiting beneath the blanket of bowned manchego cheese. Another great starter not to be missed is the Lobster Hushpuppy, a perfectly crisped sphere that is more lobster than hushpuppy - complemented by a light and bright citrus beurre blanc that cuts through the richness of the lobster.
Our favorite thing to hit the menu is actually a menu item from Queenie’s sister restaurant, Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth - the Elk and Foie Gras Sliders. These adorable little sliders come in a plateful of Texas charm, topped with tiny Texas flags - but they pack a big punch with their flavorful elk sausage patties and their perfectly seared segments of foie gras complemented by a touch of blueberry jam. These are technically for sharing - but you’ll find yourself hoping for the last one on the plate.
If you didn’t go our favorite route (drinks, apps, and sides at the bar, whilst listening to local live jazz on a Friday night) then we highly recommend a few of the great main dishes. We would rank them for you - in a top five list - but gosh darn it we just can’t make that kind of call. They have too many great dishes right now to choose from! So we recommend taking a couple of friends who also don’t mind sharing plates (none with the flu mind you) and try as many as you can.
For those among us who aren’t voracious carnivores, there is an incredible dish of smoked cheddar cheese grits, with perfectly cooked Hen of the Woods mushrooms, crispy kale chips - that are so light that they crumble to touch, and a perfectly cooked runny egg. The grits are amazing - sourced from a small town in Texas, they are the perfect texture of soft, but not mushy - and you can tell they are likely hand-milled. Another light dish is the Crispy Colorado Trout, which is crispy - but not greasy, topped with a microgreens salad, and served with a yuzu aioli - a delightful complement to the trout with the floral citrus undertones of yuzu in the aioli.
If it’s protein you crave - you’re in good hands. The Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin is peppery and seared, with an interior that is the most beautiful shade of deep pink - and the garlic is fully inserted, so it is fragrant inside and out. It sits atop the only way that matchstick fries should be served - in a western plaid hash and a Syrah demi-glace. Another show-stopper is the Boudin Stuffed Quail - the spicy rice and sausage mixture a great match for the quail itself - with drunken cherries that are the best salty to sweet combination on a plate. Not only is this one of the most beautifully presented dishes - it is also one of the most outstanding and well executed. Each component stands out - and altogether makes a rockstar dish.
And, if you’re really feeling decadent - and like hanging out a while longer, we can’t recommend the new s’more experience enough. We’re talking homemade graham crackers, homemade bourbon marshmallows, 70% cocoa chocolate, and you and your favorite people sitting around the fire pit for a unique bonding moment on the back patio. Pro tip: let your graham cracker and chocolate rest on the side of the fire pit while you roast your mallow to toasted perfection - so that your chocolate gets all gooey and your cracker gets an extra toasty edge.
If you decide to hit up a local show at Steve’s Wine Bar for some jazz, or the historic Dan’s Silver Leaf for some indie rock or an iconic Texas songwriter afterwards - don’t forget that the Back Dough will be open and ready for your late night post show needs. They’re rolling out a Nashville Chicken Donut with a spicy shredded chicken, and homemade fried pickles for your savory satisfaction, and a banana pudding donut with a homemade dulce de leche drizzle and mini nilla wafers for your sweet tooth. The line out the back door tells us that this isn’t something you want to miss.