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Recent feedback on Queen?

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  • gort Sep 27, 2012 12:51 PM
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I've been asked to pick a restaurant for dinner in the downtown Brooklyn area that takes reservations, and since we're all fans of hearty Italian food Queen is the current frontrunner. However, I haven't been there in...uh...11 years? If anyone has any recent feedback, it would be much appreciated. I tried the search function, but it wasn't helpful. Other suggestions are also welcome. Price isn't much of an issue, but being able to reserve a table is. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I wish this could be of more help (absolute positive or negative) but the answer is "it depends". Queen is uneven, in both food and service. We've had nights where the staff could care less about us or our business (and everything from the bread basket to the timing showed it) and other nights where we were treated extremely well. We've had dinners where the food is no better than red sauce places at less than half the price (overcooked pasta, etc) and other times where everything is downright inspired. And, after 30 years of going periodically, I find that I am clueless as to whether any of this is predictable in advance... is it better when a specific chef/owner is in the kitchen?, is it better mid week or weekends?, etc. Maybe someone else can weigh in on that. What I can say is that, when you're there and things are looking shaky (hard to track down a waiter, bread basket without assortment, etc), the best things to order are the traditional red sauce dishes and the stuff on the specials page.

    By the way, as far as hearty Italian food in downtown Bklyn, Queen is the only game in town. But, depending on the size of your party, there are other very good options: Henry's End (reservations for 4 or more) is always my go to place for hearty fare and the game menu starts soon.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve R

      That's quite helpful, actually. Thanks! Henry's End, another place I haven't been to in over a decade, is also on the list of possibilities although of the group I'm the only one who would be interested in the game menu. Sigh. I may just suggest an early stop at Waterfront Ale House for a more casual meal.

      1. re: Steve R

        I've had more consistent experiences over the years but your sample size is far larger than mine. I don't doubt you for a second.

        "... the best things to order are the traditional red sauce dishes and the stuff on the specials page."

        I think I'm missing something. Doesn't the menu consist of only those 2 categories?

        And for the OP, Noodle Pudding is a perfectly good alternative to Queen. It won't match up to what Queen is capable of on it's best days but it won't disappoint you either.

        1. re: Bob Martinez

          Queen's menu consists of the specials page and the ongoing printed menu, which hardly ever changes. On that menu, there are dishes that I consider "traditional red sauce" (i.e.; eggplant, veal & chicken parm., lasagna, spag. w/meat balls, etc) but there are many, many other non red sauce pastas and fishes and meats and poultry dishes which are ordered less frequently and may not be as fresh as the more popular red sauce items and specials. That's what I was saying.

          Noodle Pudding might have been my 1st choice for the OP but they have a very clear "no reservations" policy &, as far as I know, that's for parties of any size. Frankly, I think NP is better than Queen, even on Queen's best days. We're there (N.P.) very often and will probably be there tonight, eating at the bar. The food is an incredible array of choices, all of it made with very fresh ingredients and served at a very reasonable price point. I just wish they'd have a better choice of wines by the glass and take credit cards.

          1. re: Steve R

            Correction: I was wrong about N.Pudding's reservation policy. We asked tonite and were told that reservations are taken for parties of 6 or more.

            1. re: Steve R

              Went to NP tonight for dinner tonight. Have not been in a really long time. It was packed and honestly the food was ok at best. Maybe it was better 10 years ago. But I don't get the love for the place now. It was better than Buon Gusto, but that's not high praise. I'd rather go to Frankie's or Lunetta.

      2. My experience with Queen is not as erratic as Steve R's. Its fine, though I go with the daily specials page and rarely order from the menu. Its more expensive than most places in the area. For Italian in the area, I prefer Lunetta on Smith Street. They take reservations.

        1. My girlfriend is doing a presentation in my class at Polytechnic Institute on a Tuesday, and I want to take her out somewhere nice within walking distance for an earlyish dinner afterwards (the class ends at 5:20, but I could easily kill time until 6:30). It seems from this thread that the opinions on Queen and Noodle Pudding are mixed. I'd like to pay no more than $125 or so including tax and tip for the two of us, including a bottle of wine and a dinner that would probably involve us sharing 2-3 apps and a primo (or two half portions of primi, or the rough equivalent in a non-Italian place), getting our own secondi, and sharing one dessert.

          Do you suggest I look elsewhere? Would Henry's End be a better choice? Or perhaps one of the French places on Smith St.?

          12 Replies
          1. re: Pan

            there's a good amount of places in the neighborhood where you can have that much food (with wine) for $125 or less. off the top of my head:

            red gravy (italian) or colonie (american, but with small/large plates) on atlantic ave

            hibino (japanese) or bocca lupa (italian) on henry street)

            brucie (italian, also with "biggie"/"small" plates) on court street

            rucola (italian) on dean and bond

            those are just a few, all are better than queen or noodle pudding (in my opinion), i personally think colonie is the best out of all of them, and you should be able to get out of any of those for under $125

            1. re: Pan

              Pan -

              If I read you correctly; that is, if you really intend to have 2-3 apps, a shared 2nd course, 2 mains, 1 dessert and a bottle of wine and intend to spend $125 including tax/tip, I think some of the recommended places will be a close call. Even dropping the 2nd course, 2 apps @$10, (a low estimate), 2 entrees @$22 (another low estimate) & 1 dessert @$8 leaves only $25 or so for a bottle of wine (assuming tax/tip = $25 on $100). This is definitely not going to work at Henry's End (which we love) & probably not at Queen either. At Colonie, you may leave hungry after spending that amount. Noodle Pudding is a close call but is doable -- salads can be split (they're big) and so can some of the other apps. It's cash only and the wine list is okay if you know how to pick and choose carefully, avoiding duds. We're there weekly and love the place, fully disagreeing with those who don't. The ingredients are solid, things are done carefully (& sometimes creatively) and the specials menu is always worth a look, as it reflects what is fresh that day.

              I just wanted to chime in that Hibino is a very nice choice as well and you may want to take a look. We've been to Red Gravy and thought it overpriced and undergood, especially given the # of Italian places in the area. I just dont get it. You should also take a look at Chez Moi on Atlantic... a very nice informal French place at your price point.

              1. re: Steve R

                good idea on chez moi. we really like that place, and it is within the price point. and on tuesday's they have $1 oysters until 7pm.

                1. re: Steve R

                  How much more do you think Henry's End would be? I never took my girlfriend out for her birthday (we went to a Purim celebration with relatives on that day), so maybe I'd consider going higher than $125, but I definitely want to keep the expense well under $200.

                  1. re: Pan

                    At Henry's End, my wife and I usually eat for $160 or so including tax/tip. But it can be cut down to $140 or so if you're not going for the elk chops or similarly high entrees or an over $40 bottle of wine and split a dessert. I also now just remembered that on weekdays they have a pre fixe menu of $30pp for app, entree and dessert but there are supplements (I hate those) for some dishes and there are only 4 or so choices in each category. That can keep it to $125/couple but wouldn't include the turtle soup (excellent) or the wild boar gnocchi (app is the way to go with this -- too rich for an entree size I think). It may work for you.

                    1. re: Steve R

                      Thanks, Steve. Sounds workable. I'll see if I can get reservations.

                    2. re: Pan

                      Queen is so "old" it's mediocre at best. It is kind of like a Villa Mosconi in brooklyn. I'm not sure how far you can travel. I have a car, so it's no big deal to go from Poly Tech down Flatbush toward the slope to Osteria Convivium which is fantastic. I have not been to Henry's End in a decade, they had exotic meats , but I didn't think the food was great.
                      I'd choose Frankie's over Queen, it's not that far away, but not a walk. Rucola is pretty good. It is a solid restaurant. It's not special in any way , like for a celebration. I also heard Chez Moi is a real good place from a friend.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        Thanks for your suggestions.

                        I have no car, so the place has to either be within walking distance (preferred) or accessible by public transit (in which case, we could also go back to Manhattan). I was never impressed with Frankie's Spuntino when it was on Clinton St., so I don't think I'll chose to go to their Brooklyn flagship. I've read other good reports on Convivium and will plan on going there at some point, but in spite of your caution on Henry's End, I may go there, anyway, because it intrigues me, and also because we love duck, and their duck dishes sound very good. I'll look into Rucola and Chez Moi for possible future meals.

                        1. re: Pan

                          I will add my two cents. $125 with tax and tip means about $95 on food and wine. A bottle of wine is easily $35-40 for something basic. Means you've got about $60 to spend on food. You won't get very far at Queen, Henry's End or Colonie. If you want to stick in that price range, go to Chez Moi or Bacchus for french bistro fare or Lunetta if you want to go Italian or Jack the Horse for American. Maybe River Deli? Chez Moi would be my first choice though. The kitchen has improved over time and the food is well priced. Cheap even for the area. Nice atmosphere and good service.

                          If you are spending $200, then you have more options. Queen is good if you know what to order. Stick with the daily specials. We used to go to Henry's End a lot a long time ago, but not so much anymore. Away from the game and duck you mentioned, I think the menu is tired. Stay away from Red Gravy. Overpriced for what you get. We like Hibino a lot, but it doesn't feel like a special occasion place.I think Colonie would be the best choice if $200 is your limit.

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            Thanks a lot for your thoughts. What are some highlights at Colonie?

                            [Edit: We often get wines by the glass, rather than a bottle, so that's not necessarily an inevitable expense.]

                            1. re: Pan

                              Colonie's menu changes by the season which is one of the reasons I like going to it regularly. Usually have some of the crostini to start. One of the mainstays is the thick cut porkchop which I like a lot but with your reference to Purim, maybe that's not for you. Which may be the same for their oysters and scallops which I often have. The rabbit terrine is tasty. They typically have a fish dish and steak option. I think they do a great job with fish. Perfectly cooked and buttery no matter the type. My son loves the hanger steak and fries. Better fries than McD's. The vegetable sides are very good. They use to have a baby leek dish that I got almost every time. The cauliflower is also a standout. Desserts are very good too. I like the house made donuts with the creme sauce. Only issue I have is that they sometimes go heavy on the salt so I ask them to go easy with the salt.

                              ETA: It occurs to me that if you want to try Colonie on the cheap, you can go an sit at the bar. Order a cocktail with some crostini. Then order two of the small plates and split the hanger steak which is easy to do as its carved into 4 slices IIRC. You could get that done for around $100-125. My wife and I have done something like that when we wanted just a light dinner.

                              1. re: Bkeats

                                I don't keep kosher but don't usually order pork chops, though mainly as a matter of personal preference. Oversalting really bothers me, though. I see that they don't take reservations of parties smaller than 5, anyway, so I can wait. I imagine that if I go on the early side, I probably will be able to get in almost anywhere, anyway, though (and we're not going to go to Brooklyn Fare, where that would be an issue).

                2. I just thought I'd give you all an update: The presentation had to be rescheduled because of a rehearsal, and the rescheduled time is just before a Seder, so our dinner in Brooklyn has to be postponed. Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions.