A good Midwestern supper club is always in style. Prime rib, fried fish, and a brandy Old Fashioned — these three items alone should be enough to make your ears perk up, especially if you’re from Wisconsin. Now, you can get these favorites anytime you’re checking out a game or a concert at the United Center, where Queenie’s Supper Club & Cocktails (1901 W Madison St., Near West Side) opened for business on September 14.
A collaborative effort of the United Center, Heisler Hospitality, and Levy Restaurants, Queenie’s is a 270-seat restaurant with a kitchen run by chef Dan Snowden (Bad Hunter). Snowden has been working with Heisler since late 2016.
“Supper clubs in Wisconsin are family-owned and operated restaurants, and very family friendly,” he says. “The other thing that came up over and over in my research was this idea of dinner and a little bit of entertainment.” A vintage Steinway, surrounded by a large walnut bar, stands in the center of the restaurant, which presents a program of live music every night.
As for the menu, it celebrates old-school Midwestern cuisine, combined with Snowden’s family recipes and a touch of New England. The chef grew up in a small town north of Boston, and he recognized a lot of similarities between the small, traditional restaurants there and classic Wisconsin spots that he researched for Queenie’s. “I used to go to this place called the Georgetown Tavern,” Snowden says. “10 minutes from my house, family-owned and operated, goofy stuff on the wall, TVs to watch sports, classic dishes — a lot of seafood, steaks, ribs.” He combined all of those experiences, plus a lot of research, to create Queenie’s.
Highlights of the menu include a prime rib and a fish fry, which Snowden makes with Lake Superior walleye that he breads in a simple batter of cornmeal and crushed saltines, plus a hint of Old Bay seasoning. It’s accompanied by fries and coleslaw, prepared according to Snowden’s mother’s recipe. The kitchen also serves a Wisconsin-style pressure-fried chicken, fried cheese curds, smoked trout dip, bratwurst, lobster Thermidor, and steak tartare.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wisconsin supper club without classic drinks like a Brandy Alexander, an orange whip, and a brandy Old Fashioned — which has no Sprite but features two kinds of brandy plus orange and cherry garnishes. Queenie’s also offers a house Kölsch made by Whiner Beer Company, which arrives in a frosty, 20-ounce schooner glass.
The restaurant is open only on event days, serving visitors until an hour after the event ends. Maybe someday, it’ll have more regular hours, but for now, plan on going before you watch the Blackhawks. In the near future, patrons might also experience tableside presentations to supplement more traditional service. Snowden has ordered custom carts he plans on having rolled up to diners, to exhibit Caesar salads, prime rib carvings, and other head-turning goodies.
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