Luella's Southern Kitchen | Lincoln Square | Southern/Soul Food | Restaurant
Southern eats in Lincoln Square from chef Darnell Reed.

Our Review

In the cold north the arrival of a place like Luella's Southern Kitchen is best accompanied by a backstory that establishes some legitimate ties to the south. For chef Darnell Reed that connection is his grandmother Luella, who brought her corn bread and gumbo recipes with her from Mississippi when she came to Chicago in the 40s. Grandmother made a light gumbo, apparently. At Luella's it's milk chocolatey and a bit thin due to a slightly undeveloped roux. Most of the shrimp I tried at Luella's were remarkably good, fat and sweet, especially swimming in a buttery New Orleans-style barbecue preparation and resting in a pool of ultracreamy grits. But they're a different size altogether in the shrimp po'boy, and they don't leave much of an impression when overwhelmed by bread, remoulade, onions, and a pink out-of-season tomato. The most unfortunate experiment is a "southern flatbread," a small cardboard-textured disk of dough dotted with big, irregular chunks of deep-fried pickles, smoked chicken, andouille, and a blanket of pimento cheese, all drizzled with sweet, mustard-based Carolina barbecue sauce. It's a cartoonish attempt to knit together incompatible regional foods, and it undercuts the credibility the rest of the menu establishes.

Mike Sula

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