Luella's Southern Kitchen
A few weeks ago when it was cold and snowy I had the opportunity to warm up the best way possible; by settling into some great comfort food at a new spot in Lincoln Square called Luella’s Southern Kitchen. I loved the cozy down-home feel of the restaurant from the wood-paneled walls to grabbing your utensils from a kitchen armoire one might picture in an old southern mansion. The inspiration for Luella’s came from Chef/Owner Darnell Reed’s grandmother who first moved to Chicago from Mississippi in 1943. When Chef Darnell was growing up he loved her cooking and would hang around in her kitchen after school until his mom would pick him up. As he grew as a professional chef, working for Hilton Worldwide in cities such as London, Paris, Miami, and Morocco Darnell continued to turn to Luella for recipes and techniques.
I loved how Luella’s has the feel that you’re hanging out in his grandmother’s kitchen with him. Shrimp and grits, biscuits, mac ‘n cheese, gumbo, she crab soup, and chicken and waffles all make an appearance on the menu.
The she crab soup had a really nice thick and creamy consistency, almost like a gravy and had an abundance of crab and cracked black pepper.
The mac ‘n cheese featured giant hollow macaroni noodles which were the perfect conduit for the cheesy sauce. I also loved that Luella’s version had crispy breadcrumbs on top and delicious short rib in throughout the dish.
The chicken and waffles were one of our favorites from the evening. The waffles were nice and crispy and were caramelized from the bourbon maple syrup; we just kept going back for more.
My favorite dish of the evening was the New Orleans-style barbeque shrimp and cream cheese grits. I loved the combination of the slightly spicy shrimp, which were HUGE by the way, and the cooling creaminess of the cream cheese grits. This was definitely a dish I would need to have again even if I came back to try new things!
Chef Darnell was sweet enough to surprise us with a perfect sweet ending to our meal. Luella’s has some of the best beignets north of New Orleans. Covered in powdered sugar they were the perfect sweet treat to end to a rich and tasty meal!