The upside to being posted up in the heart of the Darlinghurst and Surry Hills divide means we are constantly surrounded with diverse choices for food and drink that some can only dream about on their lunch breaks.
Perched at 336 Riley Street, Surry Hills – on the second floor of what you know to be the Forresters pub – is Jamaican cuisine that, to date, is some of the best food we’ve ever had. No shit.
Owned by the Drink and Dine Group, who cover a range of other exotic venues across Sydney, Queenies has a wide selection of some of the most creative and carefully constructed dishes you’ll see. The manager, Matty, was kind enough to take us on a culinary ride throughout our visit to tell us a little more about what the menu is all about, and how to surprise your tastebuds. It’s safe to say it did not disappoint.
We started with an entrée style dish to begin with, which Queenies name ‘Bammies’. Matty’s recommendation saw us sharing a Prawn and Mango Bammie, drizzled with Habenero Fire Sauce and sprinkled with toasted coconut. The bread-like base of this is made from Cassava, a white root plant from Brazil, which is a little soft and chewy. Something real different, but a hectic way to kick things off.
The snacks on the menu are a size up from Bammies, and are all exceptional in their own way. We were given two different snacks on each side of the palate spectrum, and as far as snacks go, these are straight up the tastiest we’ve tried. If there’s anything we want to convey through this little review, it’s that you need to try the BBQ Jerk Corn with toasted coconut – brother; you will lose your fucking mind! It’s just incredible. To clarify, ‘jerk’ is a combination of allspice and scotch bonnet peppers, and quite frankly, tastes amazing. For those that love their food with a bit of heat and a punch to back it up, then our second snack has you covered. The Voodoo Wings are exactly that – real hot, but they’re served with coconut sauce on the side to cool your mouth right down. You’ll be addicted to the voodoo sauce that Queenies has concocted themselves from the get-go, and finish the lot with watery eyes and a runny nose if you have to, because it’s just too good to say no.
The last few plates on the menu come from the ‘Bigs’ section, which are mains that are prepared for one person, but you could definitely share these around depending on hunger levels at your table. Friday’s at Queenies are special due to the burger menu. Typically, burgers are not exactly custom in Jamaica, but Queenies has provided the essence of Jamaican ‘big’ meals and fit them all between a bun to provide a quick alternative to sitting down and chowing into a full plate.
Matty hooked us up with some favourites from this section. The Junko Fried Chicken Burger is an all-rounder, packed with honey soy bacon, pineapple and furikake and sesame mayonnaise, and can be enjoyed by all those that appreciate a huge bit of mouth-watering fried bird between a brioche bun. The second choice was the Pulled Pork Burger, adorned with pineapple mayonnaise and plantain chips – made from banana. Both dishes are served with sweet potato fries and curried mayo on the side to keep things interesting. These are just staple for a great Friday feed, and fit in perfectly.
Last, but certainly not least to grace our plates, was the BBQ Jerk Chicken with Jungle Slaw. Matty explained that this is the most popular dish on the menu, due to the fact that everyone who isn’t strange, loves beautifully juicy chicken smothered in jerk barbecue sauce crafted in the Queenies kitchen.
This place is a seriously good find, and is set to become a regular hangout for us when we’re looking for a doozy meal for lunch or dinner, any day of the week. It’s not all too often you come across a venue that makes you fantasise about the food you’ve eaten there, weeks later. Hats off to Matty and the Drink and Dine crew, for not only creating a place where hungry knuckle-heads like us can stuff our faces in a good environment, but for being so hospitable. Salute to Queenies – peep it!