The Queen is dead. Long Live The Queen! Elizabeth has passed away, but now we’ve got, right here in town, a new and lovely, youthful queen known as The Queen of Cups. In Tarot, cups mean plenitude.
Located on Smelter Alley, behind the Gathering Grounds, in a repurposed warehouse, this enterprise has tables and a handsome bar inside, and tables in the entry alcove, too, outdoors, where it is quieter.
Four local folks, all just about 30 years old, decided to create a classy restaurant and bar. They are two couples: Lily Christopher and Emmett Rahn-Oakes; and Kayla Lewis and Bo Simpson. All four attended college to pursue degrees in unrelated fields: environmental science, communications, poetry and civil engineering. Not one went off to culinary school and that’s resoundingly okay, considering how things turned out. All four are smart and hard-working and love delicious food.
The menu at the QOC is interesting in several ways. The food is varied, excellent, and hip. Daily offerings include appetizers: an omelette-like Spanish tortilla, made with potatoes, eggs, and onions; house salad of greens, walnuts, cilantro, and pomegranate molasses. A bit unusual, and good. The more expensive cucumber salad features two varieties of local cucumber, celery, dried apricots, pistachios, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. Again, both fanciful and good.
There is a cheese board and a meat board, and a combo of the two – all interesting and varied in their changing selection of domestic and imported stuff. These “boards” are served with homemade bread the likes of which you’ve never had. The single ten-pound loaf that Emmett bakes each day is probably the most delicious bread I’ve ever eaten. You can ask for an order of bread. There’s lots of wine, including local wines, and even wine they make themselves, both red and white. There’s beer and booze as well, and fancy cocktails, too.
They have a dinner special every night, starting at 6:00. I’ve now had three, all excellent and affordable at $15. The flavors and the spices are sublime. The first night I had something vaguely Thai, featuring slender noodles and nicely spiced pork. The texture of the noodles was as good as any I have ever had. The next time it was chicken served with rice. Quite nicely done. And, recently, there was lamb and yogurt and some vegetables, all served with couscous and authentic Middle Eastern spice. On some nights there’s a special salad and special dessert. I’ve eaten nothing there, so far, which wasn’t a delight.
These four young people have never run a restaurant before and they are learning as they go. Their roles overlap and are loosely defined. Kayla’s in charge of “the front of the house” and the bar. Lily is the go-to brain for menu-planning and the food itself, while Emmett, in addition to baking and making the wine, helps out with other chores as needs arise, and so does Bo when he escapes the ranches that he runs.
These folks are quite inspiring. They really do appreciate and talk a lot about this town and its supportiveness, and marvel at the generosity of those who’ve helped them get this project launched, including the patrons who keep coming back. The village is supporting them, and they reciprocate with excellence.
You can visit The Queen of Cups Wednesday through Saturday, 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 or so. Find them on Instagram (@queenofcups_patagonia). Reservations are not accepted. BTW: Don’t park in Smelter Alley – it’s too crowded. There’s lots of parking on McKeown and Third Avenue.