Chicago (January 2015) Chicago’s Lincoln Square, a popular and charming business and residential district filled with intriguing food and shopping, will soon be the proud home of an exciting new Southern regional restaurant, Luella’s Southern Kitchen (4609 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-961-8196) which will open on February 3, 2015. Luella’s will be a delight for Chicago’s many fans of Southern cuisine, who now won’t have to hop on an airplane to enjoy this iconic and varied American style of cooking.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen is the brainchild of chef/owner and Chicago native Darnell Reed who has built an impeccable culinary resume for the past 18 years. A graduate of Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago, Reed began his professional career in 1997 at the Palmer House Hilton where he served as Restaurant Chef at the French Quarter and the Big Downtown. In 2005, he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef at the Embassy Suites Chicago Lakefront where he handled banquet functions for up to 700 people. In April 2007, Reed was promoted to the dual Executive Chef position at the Hilton of Oakbrook and Hilton Garden Inn of Oakbrook. In May of 2010, he accepted the Executive Sous Chef position at the Conrad Chicago Hotel and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2011.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen is named after Reed’s great-grandmother, Luella, whose delicious Southern recipes inspired him to pursue his passion for cooking as a career. Having earned his culinary stripes, he is ready to join the ranks of many of Chicago’s excellent chefs who march to their own entrepreneurial rhythm.
The restaurant is going to be casual and friendly, with a contemporary yet rustic feel and an emphasis on high quality dishes representing the many variations of regional Southern cuisine. The menu includes both traditional and creative interpretations of Southern favorites from Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Carolinas.
“We’re inviting our guests to enjoy a casual and comfortable meal with no pretense, just great food and service,” said Reed. “They’ll have a great time simply enjoying and learning about this amazing food. Everything will be freshly prepared using fine locally sourced ingredients. We’ll be serving lunch and dinner during the weekdays plus an amazing weekend brunch on Saturday and Sundays. Our menu specials will give people a chance to try many different things from several states.”
Luella’s menu will take a “mix and match” approach, with a variety of appetizers, small plates, sandwiches, salads, large plates, sides and desserts that can be combined in a myriad of ways to create a simple meal or a hearty Southern feast. Guests will order at the counter and the food will be brought to their table. The restaurant will open as a BYOB with no corkage fee.
Among the mouthwatering soup creations are She Crab Soup, with black and red tobiko, brioche and sherry reduction ($8); and Chicken Gumbo, dark stock with Creole seasoning, Andouille sausage, rice and scallions ($7).
Salads include the Kale Ambrosia, with kale, citrus segments, pineapple, goat cheese, candied pecans, toasted coconut, basil and lime vinaigrette ($11); and the Quinoa Salad, with arugula, grilled peaches, sunflower seed vinaigrette and sweet potato crumble ($11).
Traditional, ever-popular choices will include Forever Braised Short Rib Mac and Cheese, with Mornay sauce, thyme, and butter bread crumbs ($11); Southern Flatbread with smoked chicken, Andouille sausage, fried pickles, pimento cheese and Carolina BBQ ($10); Bourbon Chicken and Waffles with golden crispy chicken, Liege waffle and bourbon maple syrup ($12); and Shrimp and Grits, New Orleans BBQ shrimp served with cream cheese grits ($15).
Sandwich selections feature a Shrimp Po’ boy, with French bread, remoulade and Creole seasoned fries ($12); Crispy Catfish Tacos with corn tortillas, cayenne remoulade, vinegar slaw ($10); and a Fried Green Tomato BLT with Nueske’s bacon, fried green tomato and arugula ($11).
Luella’s signature entree will be the Low Country Shrimp and Crab Boil, with Kielbasa and Andouille sausage, corn, boiled potatoes and toasted baguette ($21).
The side dishes add another scrumptious taste of Southern hospitality to the meal. Choices include Lemon and Cajun Seasoned Fries ($4); Buttermilk Biscuits with Sorghum Drizzle ($5); Glazed Sweet Potatoes with sorghum, cumin and chili ancho ($6); and Roasted and Chilled Beets with cream cheese smear, Creole spiced pistachios, balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil ($6).
Lovers of Southern desserts certainly won’t be disappointed. Luella’s will serve fresh homemade Beignets ($5), and an all-time Mississippi favorite: Mississippi Mud Pie, a dark chocolate and pecan pie with chocolate crust and praline ice cream ($6).
Luella’s Southern Brunch
Some of the most appealing aspects of Southern cuisine are the delicious breakfast recipes, and Luella’s will bring them to Chicagoans on Saturday and Sunday with a Southern Brunch, served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The menu is as tasty as it sounds and includes a variety of sweet and savory selections. On the sweeter side are the Bananas Foster Pancakes, buttermilk pancakes with Bananas Foster topping ($10), and Chicory Coffee French Toast with coffee crÃ¨me brulee batter, served with fresh berries ($11).
Savory brunch items include Southern Benedict, braised Slagel Farms pork, poached farm eggs, crystal hollandaise and buttermilk biscuit ($11); Andouille Sausage Quiche, Andouille sausage quiche, Romano cheese, caramelized leeks, and farm eggs ($12); Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Slagel Farms chicken and smoked gravy ($12); and Shrimp and Grits, New Orleans BBQ shrimp, dandelion greens and cream cheese grits ($22). Burger lovers will enjoy Chef Darnell’s Southern take: the Pimento Cheeseburger, Slagel Farms burger, pimento cheese, egg sunny up, and brioche bun, served with Creole seasoned fries ($11).
Brunch salads are also featured on the regular lunch and dinner menu: Kale Ambrosia, citrus segments, pineapple, goat cheese, candied pecans, toasted coconut, basil and lime vinaigrette ($11); and the Quinoa Salad with arugula, dried cranberries, sunflower seed vinaigrette and sweet potato crumble ($11).
The dessert selection during brunch includes one item not on the regular lunch and dinner menu, the Milk Chocolate Bread Pudding with strawberry jam Anglaise and praline ice cream ($5).
About Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Luella’s Southern Kitchen, located at 4609 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, is a casual independent restaurant owned by Chef Darnell Reed. The restaurant will open February 3, 2015. Luella’s serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend brunch is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; dinner is served until 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All major cards are accepted. Luella’s is a BYOB establishment; no corkage fee is charged. Takeout and delivery service are available. For more information, call the restaurant at (773) 961-8196 or visit the website at www.luellassouthernkitchen.com.