Tim Love Dishes On His New Denton Steakhouse's Chicken Fried Whole Lobster.
Back in October and kind of out of nowhere, Fort Worth-based celebrity chef Tim Love shut down the Denton location of his popular gourmet burger Love Shack concept somewhat suddenly. At the time, he defended the move by saying that the new concept he would replace Love Shack with — a high-end steakhouse — was the dream he'd had for the location all along.
Last week, this new joint — called Queenie's Steakhouse and named after his mother, a lifelong Denton dweller — finally opened. As promised, the new restaurant very much is a change of pace; the two concepts couldn't be more disparate, really. For one thing, there's the pricing at Queenie's, which assures that almost no students will dine in the spot unless their parents are visiting and footing the bill. And then, of course, there's the food, which eschews the everyman appeal of the burgers at Love Shack for such haute palate-pleasers as a wagyu tomahawk ribeye entree ($85) and a truffle macaroni and cheese side ($12).
But early buzz returns for Queenie's are actually quite positive, despite the serious change in direction. And, for at least one reason, we can totally see why.
Included on Love's opening Queenie's menu is one dish we're already drooling over just while thinking about it. For $50, Love's kitchen promises a chicken-fried whole lobster. It's a pretty crazy dish: The shell's been ditched from the lobster's claws and tail, the meat of which is then doused in chicken-fry batter and deep-fried, and then the whole thing is reassembled like some sort of Frankenlobster sent down from the gods of gastronomy.
And, I mean. c'mon. If the sound of that dish alone doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what to tell you. It's a cool idea, that's all I'm saying. And, sure, Love's pretty proud of it.
“I didn't want to half ass it,” he told us late last week when we popped in for a sneak peek of the dish and the new spot as a whole. “I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize my mom's reputation.”
We think his mom's safe for now. If only for because of that aforementioned lobster dish, about which Love was kind enough to tell us about in full as we tried not to drool too much on his new spot's stark white tablecloths.
Why open a steakhouse in Denton?
This restaurant was truly built for my mother. It was something to show her legacy, since she was born and raised in Denton. It's a cool fit for the town, which is ready for something nice. We're happy to provide it.
This doesn't really look like a totally standard steakhouse menu, though.
I think the menu is going to be pretty adventurous for the diners in Denton. You've got to give them what they want — dishes like steak and mashed potatoes are familiar — but I think it's going to be a great dining experience for Denton, especially when they see the chicken-fried whole lobster dish.
OK, yeah. We've got to talk about that dish. How'd you come up with it?
Chicken-fried steak is infamous in Texas, so we started working off of that. You can fry anything you want and have it taste good. But this is something I really wanted to work on — and it tastes pretty damn good.
Fifty bucks ain't cheap.
The price is the price. The food costs what it costs. We have to make a certain percentage off of it. Actually, it's a little bit cheap, according to our standards.
I did some research and, apparently, there actually are a few other restaurants that serve a similar dish. I know Culpepper Steak House in Rockwall serves a chicken-fried lobster tail. So does Binion's Ranch Steak House in Las Vegas. Had you heard of these diishes?
Yeah, I've heard people doing deep-fried lobster tails — but not the entire crustacean. That's the key. That is what sets us apart. It arrives to the table whole, so it takes a lot of culinary technicality to present the dish without overcooking the lobster. People have done the fried lobster tail dish for years, but not an entire lobster I don't claim to be the first person to do anything. If you claim that you're the first to do anything, you're a moron. I just tried making it my own dish and venturing out a in direction that's never been done before. In the culinary business, we all learn form each other. That's just the way it is.
Where is the lobster being brought in from?
Right now, we're getting it from east coast of Canada — Nova Scotia, specifically. That will eventually change to Maine as the seasons change.
Did you have to go through a lot of testing before you found the right recipe on this lobster dish?
Every new dish you create always takes a lot of practice. You have something — a recipe — in your brain and you try to put it together. It's all about finding that right combination of idea and actuality. And, really, that's cooking in it and of itself.
How is frying lobster different than, say, frying a chicken or a steak?
The major difference is you have to purchase the right lobster, and then get it out of the shell without tearing the meat. You have to delicately push it out and then make sure not to cook it all the way through. Then you have to get the batter to where it's crispy, but without burning it.
What do you think the reaction to this dish will be?
I think people are going to really enjoy it. It looks expensive on the menu, but it's actually a lot of food. I recommend that guests bring a lot of people to share the dishes. Maybe order a steak and split and that with the chicken-fried Lobster. I know it's overwhelming to look at. But it is really beautiful.