Renovation and new menu update the Queen without sacrificing classic spirit.
It’s not easy rehabbing royalty. Just ask Trevor Greenwood, co-owner of the Cantinetta restaurants. Last December, he and several partners struck a deal to buy Queen City Grill, thus averting the closure of that Belltown institution. The goal was to preserve a precious piece of restaurant history that dates back well before 1987, when Peter Lamb, Robert Eickhof and Steve Good launched Queen City Grill, possibly even before 1910, when Queen City Saloon opened at the corner of First and Blanchard.
Along with Greenwood, who once bused tables here, the new owners include bar manager Kevin Stewart, who spent 14 years tending this bar early in his career. For these alums, overhauling The Queen was, in Greenwood’s words, “a labor of love.” The renovation took five months and was extensive. In addition to gutting the bathrooms and installing new wiring and plumbing, they soda-blasted the brick walls, uncovered and restored the original old-growth floor boards, refinished the mahogany booths and bar and refurbished the decorative tile and Art Deco glass.
The result is a restaurant that feels fresh but retains a handsome patina of age. It also very much looks like a member of the Cantinetta family. Sconces set between the building’s original transom windows give off a peachy glow. Boudoir lamps tucked into the windowsills illuminate the secluded booths. White cloths cover a few tables up front, set along a church-pew banquette, a regal nod to formality in a place that is, at heart, still a saloon.
Queen City Grill ★★½
2201 First Ave., Seattle
Hours: dinner 5-11 p.m. daily; brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; happy hour 5-6:30 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. daily
Prices: $$$$ (starters $9-$18; entrees $16-$39)
Drinks: full bar; wines from Washington, California, Italy and France
Service: warm and…