Indulging in grease and gravy has become an increasingly rare occurrence in my culinary regimen ' my viscera now seem unaccustomed to the Wesson-soaked staples characteristic of down-home cooking. Gone are the days when, in true Spurlockian fashion, my waking moments would contentedly pass in a perpetual deep-fried haze, when fried chicken and biscuits would comprise my lunch and dinnertime meals for weeks on end. So before entering the doors of Queen Bee's, the thought of retoxifying my system with several lardaceous jolts had me shuddering, then spurred a sentiment of resigned surrender. 'Let's do this,â?� my dining partner determinedly declared as we traversed the small parking lot and entered the neighborhood eatery. And we did.
The restaurant, open Thursday through Sunday, is run by former state Rep. Alzo Reddick and his wife Elouise, who named it after one of their granddaughters. Neither were present, but we were made to feel like one of the family (or at the very least like a couple of neighborhood boys in need of feeding) by two sweet ladies behind the counter. They were already in the process of moving items from the warming trays into containers (it was a slow day), but we managed to make a dent into the offerings nonetheless. We devoured pork chops, neck bone, baked chicken and, of course, fried chicken along with an assortment of side items and dessert. If you're going to shock the innards, you may as well go all out.
Those pork chops ($11.85) were thick and meaty, but not tough in the least. The tender, succulent slabs glistened with a luxuriant and peppery gravy, and, teamed with crumbly corn bread and three sides of to-die-for mac and cheese, creamy black-eyed peas and buttery lima beans, they made one hell of a sleep-inducing meal. We weren't sure what animal the neck bone ($3.50) came from, but it turned out to be the collar from that wonderful, magical animal. The huge pork bones sat in a garlicky stew with potatoes and had a consistency similar to braised oxtail or osso buco.
The fried chicken ($6.25) was a bit of a disappointment, as it was reheated in the microwave, a total killjoy. The chicken was well-seasoned and likely would've been an enjoyable feast soon after frying, but the nuked result was a damp, lifeless bird with spongy skin. Covered in a smoky barbecue sauce, the baked chicken (only 75 cents for a drumstick!) was much better. Sides of mashed potatoes lathered in pork gravy and tangy okra with corn and tomatoes salvaged the fowl misgivings, though at this point we were ready to call it quits. But a few sips of super-sweet iced tea and lemonade jacked enough juice into our veins to see us through dessert, and it's a good thing, too. Sweet potato pie ($1.90) with hints of nutmeg was top-notch, and while I didn't care for the canned peaches in the peach cobbler ($1.90), the flaky crust raised the meal-capper to the level of respectability. My only complaint about the service was the way in which the food was dispensed. The same serving spoon was used to handle multiple dishes, even though numerous clean serving spoons were in sight. That sort of lax attitude can really be a turn-off, particularly when patrons are in full sight.
The dining area, located toward the back of the restaurant, isn't in full sight, but it warrants a thorough perusal of all the Civil War and civil rights memorabilia festooning the walls. The room is guarded by a life-size sculpture of heavyweight champ Jack Johnson ' a fitting ornament considering that after all the food we ate, we felt KO'ed by the experience.
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