Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And the delicious breakfasts served on the American Queen make is easier to roll out of a comfy bed each morning on the river.
To create memorable menus for the American Queen, the smart new owners chose chef Regina Charboneau to be the steamboat’s culinary director. A native of historical Natchez, Regina draws inspiration from America’ heartland and her own Mississippi River roots.
“My vision is to re-create many American classics using the best seasonal ingredients and what our location on the river has to offer,” Regina has said. “I also want to create new dishes that become synonymous with the American Queen.”
Judging from our cruise, the American Queen chef has met her goal.
For breakfast, early risers can head to the Front Porch of America for Starbucks coffee, beignets and more from 6-10. Or they can take a seat in the J. M. White Dining Room for the buffet and a la carte options served from 7-9:30.
The first morning of the cruise, I ordered a traditional Southern breakfast from the menu. Very tasty but I quickly learned that the buffet is a better choice for me. I fell in love with Regina’s Butter Biscuits and sausage gravy.
The buffet has so much and changes everyday. Choose from ham, sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, muffins, pancakes, grits, potatoes, andouille hash with corn cakes, oatmeal, roasted tomatoes, Bananas Foster French Toast, fresh fruit, made-to-order omelets and egg strudel with spinach, tomatoes and feta. The biscuits and gravy, crispy bacon and much more made it on my plate each morning. Watching the river roll outside our dining room window while enjoying Regina’s culinary creations was a real treat.
Choices are equally abundant for lunch. The Front Porch of America serves sandwiches, salads, cookies and lighter fare from 11-3. In the dining room, a great buffet from 11-1 offers a veritable feast of fresh breads, carved meats, fish and seafood, salads, regional gourmet specialties, sautéed vegetables and, of course, scrumptious deserts. The Front Porch of America also offers complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee and snacks 24 hours a day. A self-serve ice cream station saw considerable use.
Dinner in the dining room is the biggie, with two seatings at either 5:15 or 7:45. I picked the earlier time and then went to the evening’s entertainment after dining. The later diners went to the show before eating. The nightly five-course dinner showcases Regina’s skills. Check out the photo of a dinner menu with this article to see some of the delightful selections.
Something new at the American Queen is complimentary beer and wine with dinner, part of the Queen’s push to give cruisers more for their money. It didn’t take my servers – Michael, Danielle and Gillian – very long to figure out what I like to drink and they kept my glass filled.
The American Queen gift shop carries Regina’s cookbook. Sometime, I plan to try and make her Butter Biscuits. But I don’t know how to recreate that beautiful river scene that helps make any meal aboard the American Queen so special.
4 cups flour
¼ cup baking powder
¼ cup sugar
¾ pound margarine (salted)
¼ pound butter (salted)
1¾ cups buttermilk
In a metal mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and sugar. Blend well.
Cut margarine and butter into small cubes (½ inch).
Mix with dry ingredients and coat the margarine and butter well with the flour mixture.
Add buttermilk and mix into a dough. Do not over mix, there should be visible pieces of butter and margarine, that is what makes these biscuits flaky.
Flour a workspace and roll out ¾ inch thick, fold and roll again. Repeat this process two to three times until you have smooth dough. The dough will be layered with butter and margarine. Cut into rounds, whichever size you prefer. Regina prefers 2 inches.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. You may bake in muffin tins to brown evenly. Makes about two dozen large or three dozen small biscuits.
Note: Regina is very specific about ingredients and brands. She prefers Calumet Baking Powder, Land O’Lakes salted butter and salted margarine. She also uses regular buttermilk, not low fat.
“They don’t taste quite like my biscuits if you change the ingredients,” she says.