If I ever have sauce on my face, will you tell me? Please? If it wasn’t for a trip to the ladies, I’d still be saving some for Ron on my right cheek. Miss Universe says it was too dark to notice. And then I remember I didn’t tell him about the coconut that lingered a little too long on his top lip earlier on. Karma or a theme? Because it’s a coconut and BBQ Jerk sauce kind of night here at Queenie’s. There are as many mentions of them on the menu as there are fake flowers hanging from the ceiling. Oh the fake flowers, it’s like someone went crazy in Spotlight with a hot glue gun!
Queenie’s at The Forresters the latest offering from the Drink & Dine Group. Chef Jamie Thomas (The Carrington, The Abercrombie and The Norfolk) is in the kitchen and we mull over his Jamaican ‘pan-tropical’ inspired menu with a cocktail – why not when you can still use the excuse “it’s Christmas” for just a few more days. The Queenie’s Daiquiri ($16) – rum, creamy coconut milk and a salted rim. Can’t say I’ve eaten a lot of Jamaican food, so I’m looking forward to this.
The plastic mats covering the tables continue set the tone – decorated in a random array of flowers, foods, pianos and rainbows. Very kitsch. The whole place is bright, fun and playful, you can’t help be cheered up by the surroundings.
Check out the lights on the wall – it’s one of those wooden woven bowls we all served chips in in the 80s given a flower halo. And the ceiling lights – old carriage wheels with lamp shades made out of plastic place mats. I’m getting a tropical voodoo vibe, whatever that is.
We start with Bammies. What is a bammie? Well, I’m glad you asked because I didn’t know either. They remind me of a mini Arepas that’s served like a taco or tortilla with your choice of filling – pork or prawn. And of course I choose the Pulled pork & pineapple ($7). A bammie is a traditional Jamaican cassava (a native South American plant with a starchy root – the dried extract is tapioca) flatbread that’s made from grated cassava chips soaked in coconut milk. Two delightful mouthfuls weren’t nearly enough.
Then BBQ Jerk corn with coconut ($8). Little sweet cobs of corn have been smeared with a spicy smoky mayo and feathered with toasted coconut. So much coconut that I lose half of it in a trail from plate to plate to mouth. But it’s delicious.
Coconut soft shell crab with hotstepper sauce ($16). Sweet juicy crab fried in a light golden-yellow batter and a fabulously fiery dipping sauce.
A side of Dirty rice with coriander, spring onions, mint & allspice ($5). Because it’s a side of dirty rice, how could you not?? Jasmin rice that’s been spiced and stained brown with loads of fresh coriander. Nothing amazing but it’s simple and a lovely accompaniment to all the other flavours we’ve got going on at our table.
And this is where I came unstuck, or rather where the sauce became stuck – the BBQ Jerk chicken with jungle slaw ($18).
I leapt for a drumstick and lost all my manners devouring it…
God knows how we have room for dessert, but “if you can, you must” my Bikram yoga teacher always says – if I can apply this to exercise, I intend to do the same with food (that’s the whole point of the exercise really!).
Nothing jumps out at me, except for the Kingston Kreme Doughnuts with Jerk cream and chocolate & coffee sauce ($10). And they don’t disappoint (our waitress did promise). Looking like they might be quite dense and heavy, our first bite reveals them to be quite the opposite – so light and melt-in-your mouth delicious!
We down two each, with a lingering tongue tingle from the Jerk cream. And the fifth is snaffled home in a designer handbag to Miss Universes other half (shhh.)
The bar is packed, Jamaican beats are pumping, and the fake flowers appear to be breeding. I’ll be back… next time with my napkin poised.
Queenies, The Forresters – Corner Foveaux and Riley Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 – 02 9212 3035