Day: October 12th, 2007

The Queen’s Hideaway

Friday, October 12th, 2007 | All Things, Eats

In Greenpoint tonight for dinner at The Queen’s Hideaway. I’ve been wanting to revisit this sweetly idiosyncratic eatery for the past year, particularly after being thwarted over the summer due to the restaurant’s vacation schedule.

B and I made our way to the burgeoning “hot spot” of Franklin Street where chef/owner Liza Queen (the “Queen” of “The Queen’s Hideaway”) transformed what was an unassuming storefront on a quiet residential street into a tiny restaurant with a garden that on warmer days is a destination unto itself. (New Yorkers put such a high premium on outdoor space that it matters not at all that the garden is less Olmsted and Vaux and more Overgrown Yard.) Tonight, though, was not one of those warmer days, so we took up one of the tabletops in the narrow, cozy dining room.

The Queen’s Hideaway

Despite its distinctly off-the-beaten path locale, Queen’s interpretation of Southern home cooking had earned her a lot of buzz when the restaurant first opened back in 2005. Critical raves from The Times and New York, in addition to a three-star rating in the magazine’s “Cheap Eats” list for 2006 made her restaurant a Greenpoint destination. For some, the homespun charms might be almost too aggressively quirky: semi-open kitchen, no-frills furniture, speakers blaring classic rock, a wall shelf lined with dog-eared cookbooks, mismatched plates, no stemware (though the restaurant acquired a liquor license since the last time we were here)… but one taste of the food, and you realize that there is no pretense here.

The Queen’s Hideaway

The Queen’s Hideaway starts things off with a bowl of warm, boiled peanuts (instead of the usual bread basket) which is both tastier and spicier than one might expect. The menu, handwritten on brown paper, is mostly a creative spin on comfort food, emphasizing local produce and seasonal ingredients. I know, cliché alert, but bear with me here, it’s all actually really good: full of hit-the-spot sides and entrees like these okra fritters with zingy Hideaway hot sauce — hot, fluffy, perfect — and a generous wedge of skillet cornbread with homemade pickles. The daily-shifting menu is based equally on Queen’s whims as on her trips to the Union Square Greenmarket.

Cornbread and okra fritters

This night, it seems that Queen had procured a supply of fresh venison; I don’t often get the opportunity to eat game, so it was an easy decision to go for the stew topped with fresh ricotta, Mission figs and hazelnuts. (Blurry photo, I know, but I just couldn’t wait to dig in.  It was delicious!)

Venison stew

A couple years into its tenure, the restaurant continues to impress, recently making Gawker’s TODO list. Gourmet magazine’s October 2007 issue features The Queen’s Hideaway in its guide to “America’s Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants.” One small quibble, though: while the food is as satisfying as ever, a meal is far less of a deal than it used to be. For starters, the restaurant is no longer BYOB, and entrees which once ran in the $10 to $12 range, are now $16 to $20 — a rather significant jump over just two years. Gridskipper keyed into this last year and I’m surprised that the upward price drift is not mentioned more in the recent reviews. Still, I want to throw some support behind this gem of a place; Queen is, after all, one of the small handful of women chefs to head up her own New York City restaurant. It’s 2007: why is that?

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