You’re kinda spoilt for choice if you’re looking for a place to drink on Essex Road. A handful of quality boozers (some great places to eat too!) are clustered close to where the road meets Upper Street with a few more commendable establishments presenting themselves up along the away nearer De Beauvoir Town. One of the best among all of these is the Old Queen’s Head.
Long story short, I had been running around all over the place last Saturday from early morning, tying up loose ends and crossing through necessary but boring items on what seemed like a never ending to-do list. An invitation to explore the bar menu at the Old Queen’s Head was the only respite in my long day – and as I finally made my way into the pub, I was glad to commence my break in such a relaxed setting.
Off my feet with a pint of Brooklyn Lager soon in hand and some bar bites quickly slid below my scruffy chin by a smiling member of staff with a friendly “cool, man” attitude. Straddling the line between quirky and classy without coming across as overly (over overtly) designed, the pub provided just the sort of refuge I’d hoped for. It was afternoon sometime between 2 and 3pm. Sunlight streamed through the large windows of the otherwise largely unlit pub. Some mellow tunes piped through the air at a reasonable volume. A quartet of twentysomethings chuckled round a mountain of boardgames while a small but growing assemblage of birthday party celebrants (all ages, sizes and seemingly from a wide range of social statuses) gathered at a long dining table on the other side of the room.
I’d bent my elbow a few times in the past at the Old Queen’s Head. It’s a fun and laid back place attracting a somewhat eclectic and fairly young-ish crowd. But I had never tried the food before. An affordable and succinct bar menu offered a solid list of pub grub standards. Best bits? A very satisfying and substantial portion of triple cooked chips (£3.50) served with sour cream and chives (nice touch!) … a comforting and large fish finger sandwich (£5.25) with a terrifically fresh and tarragon-y tartar sauce … a deep dish of scampi (£5.75). I tasted some really nice mushy peas as well. I tried a couple of other things too, good but not worth much mention. The Hereford beef burger (£6, + 50p with Stilton or Cheddar) tempted but I’d had a burger the day before.
I liked how (aside from the sandwiches and burgers), the bar menu is designed for sharing, and I thought the prices were right on.
The Old Queen’s Head is located at 44 Essex Road, N1 8LN. Beyond a fine selection of beers, smart cocktails and yummy bar snacks, The Queen’s Head does live music, a Sunday roast, quiz nights and a whole lot more. For details, go to theoldqueenshead.com.