Prolific restaurateur Linda Derschang (Linda’s Tavern, Oddfellows) has put her sophisticated spin on Belltown’s longstanding Queen City Grill, beautifully redesigning the space, the menus, and even the name, slightly — Queen City — for its reopening today.
Derschang says she’s been wishing for a nearby neighborhood hangout for a burger and a cocktail since she moved downtown a few years ago, and Queen City is her solution — she’s even brought along the burger from Smith, another of her restaurants.
Smith chef Will Richey, formerly of Tallulah’s (itself a former Derschang property), is overseeing simple, locally sourced menu, from deviled eggs or a classic Caesar salad to mussels in white wine, tuna nicoise, roast chicken, and a hot fudge sundae with ice cream made on-site.
The concise food menu complements an imaginative drinks list, including local and international wines made with minimal intervention, a few local beers on draft, and, soon, creamy nitro cocktails on draft, like a gin martini or a mojito.
There are also seasonal cocktails, like a blood orange frosé; spritzes, including a mai tai spritz and the Pineaperol Riesling Spritz, with pineapple-infused riesling; and a section dedicated to frappés, like the Popolo Square Frappé, with anisette, lemon, mint, and orgeat, and the Oaxaca Frappé, with mezcal, lime, and watermelon liqueur.
It’s all served in a nostalgic but polished 95-seat space with an extra 12 seats on the little outdoor patio. The dozen wooden booths and the bar are originals, while the fixtures are a mix of newly uncovered and freshly added, like lighting from France. Found paintings and local photos, from the likes of Lance Mercer and Ashley Armitage, decorate the walls alongside old mirrors and taxidermy, a signature Derschang touch.
Queen City Grill opened in 1987 but the venue dates back to at least 1910, when Queen City Saloon opened at the corner of First and Blanchard, and possibly earlier. It’s has “had its ups and downs over the decades,” as Seattle Times critic Providence Cicero put it in a two-and-a-half-star review of the restaurant’s latest iteration last year. But Derschang’s take on Queen City looks like a gorgeous update, and her record of success bodes well for the restaurant’s future.