Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans.
The Queen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a space that might have once held a Denny’s, but it is nicely refurnished with white tablecloths, candles and fresh flowers. Dinners (none cost more than $9.50) range from a selection of grilled entrees to Eastern European dishes like goulash to 3-ways and hamburgers.
The restaurant is owned by Tase Palitov and his wife Mary. According to the blurb on the menu, the restaurant is named for her. I have to admit confusion because of a picture of the Queen Mary luxury liner on the menu cover. I had initially assumed the restaurant was named for a ship for some unfathomable reason.
The menu also claims that, “You hold in your possession the menu to this restaurant. With this menu, you can order the finest food that anyone in this city has ever had to offer.” Mighty big words that, unfortunately, aren’t backed up by the cuisine.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s serviceable and a pretty good deal for the price, but the finest food anyone in the city has to offer? If the Palitovs back off that grand statement a bit, they’ll do just fine as a mid-level family restaurant.
What the restaurant lacks in terms of a food experience, it certainly makes up for as an interesting dining experience. There were two servers the night we had dinner. As we sat down I asked the senior staff member about their wine.
I had heard that they make their own and are hoping to get a license to sell it; I was wondering how that process was going. She misheard me and when we finally got the miscommunication straightened out, she forgot my initial question and wandered off without providing an answer.
Our server was good and fast, maybe a little too fast. She had the speed of someone trying to quickly turn tables in a packed restaurant. And while the Queen had a nice size crowd that night, no one was waiting for a table.
Our dinner started with a basket of bread and butter, which was one of my favorite items of the night. The bread wasn’t anything extraordinary, but the butter has cucumber in it. I’d never have put those two ingredients together on my own, but they really do work.
I wanted to try the homemade sausages, but there aren’t any appetizers on the menu, so we asked to get a kid’s plate ($3.85), which consisted of four lumpy looking sausages that, like lumpy mashed potatoes, proudly proclaimed their homemade status. The sausages were okay, but nothing I would order again.
All of the dinner entrees come with a minimalist salad of lettuce and tomato slices and two sides. For dinner I had the Beef Goulash ($7.50) with what was described as a spicy tomato and paprika sauce, a side of homemade fries (sautéed sliced potatoes that were very good) and a side of baked butter beans. Husband had the eight-ounce grilled ribeye ($7.50) with regular fries and mixed vegetables.
The butter beans were a curiosity to me. Seasoned with salt and red pepper, they were satisfying with a soupy consistence that brought cowboy chuck wagons to mind. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I ordered them, but they reminded me of a variation on my mom’s baked beans. (Of course, no one could hold a candle to those.)
While all of our sides were good and we loved the old-fashioned salad, Husband and I both were disappointed with the entrees. Husband’s steak was better than my goulash. It was an inferior cut (that’s what you should expect from a $7 steak), but it was pretty tender and cooked according to his instructions. My beef chunks, however, were tough and the whole concoction was way too salty. Of course, as we eyed the room and realized the median age was probably 60, there may be a good reason for the level of salt in dishes. After all, by that time all of our taste buds are in need of a little help.
Since all the desserts are homemade we wanted to try a couple and asked our server if they had a dessert menu. “Ah sweetie,” she replied to Husband, “just go on and look in the case” pointing to a dessert display case on the other side of the room. We chose the last slice of Black Forest Cake ($3.25) and Baklava ($3.25). The baklava, a huge, gooey portion, wasn’t bad, but the cake must have been sitting in the display case a while. It was rather dry and even the whipped cream topping had a razor thin crust from sitting too long. I would have preferred sour cherries to the bright, artificial-looking layer of cherries as well.
While our food didn’t wow us the night we had an audience with the Queen, I think the place has potential. I hope to stop by for another try — maybe breakfast this time. I’m dying to know what’s in a German omelet.
Go: 4050 North Bend Road, Cheviot
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Entrée Prices: $5.99-9.50
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Red Meat Alternatives: Salads, chicken, seafood
Accessibility: Fully accessible