Queenie's, the Drink & Dine boys' latest venture, will leave you with some lasting impressions. Coconut, jerk chilli and pineapple to say the least. Upstairs at the Forresters, this Jamaican-inspired shanty-style eating and drinking shack has hit the ground running. A tropical oasis for many a Hawaiian shirt-wearing hipster, Queenie's brings pan Atlantic trend to the Hills' Riley Street traps.
Bunk down in one of the tartan-upholstered banquettes and begin with a few cocktails. The appropriately kitschy-named Zimboo Juice ($16), a fusion of aged Cachaca, Cointreau, Tamarind with white grapefruit, has an intensely aromatic kick and sour finish to awaken the buds. Alternatively, for something subtler, opt for the Jamaica Nice ($16) — tequila, St Germain, Licor 43 with blood orange, lemon and bitters — a subdued mix of sweet and sour.
The key to achieving maximum eating enjoyment at Queenie's depends on your acceptance of just this: sharing is caring and chilli is king. Dishes on the menu are categorised into snacks, salads, bigs, feast and sides and I'm telling you now, go with your mates because you'll want to sample everything. The Bammies ($7), are snacks comprising tortilla-like bread bases with prawn, mango and ginger or pulled pork and pineapple atop. Both combinations satisfyingly flavoursome. The Calypso Coffee Ribs ($15), also categorised as snacks, are not to be overlooked. This dish contrasts the barbequed flavour of ribs with the highly acidic, almost-florescent yellow cauliflower, that is served as a side. Match these with the La Vendetta Sangiovese ($8 glass) and you've got yourself a winning combo.
Of the salad variety there's plenty on offer, but the octopus and Jamaican tabouleh salad's the ticket. Served with mint, coriander, pineapple, cucumber and tomato there's a defiant battle between the octopus' chewiness with the tabouleh's delicate texture. It works. From the Bigs, we'd suggest you go for the smoked pork loin ($24) with crumbed mussels and mango salsa for something that will substantially feed two to three people. Again, a contrast in textures with silk-like mango setting off the firmness of the meat.
If you're going strong, you may just be a bottomless pit. Ain't nothin’ wrong with that, though. Try the Kingston Kreme Donuts ($10), jerk custard-stuffed donuts with chocolate and coffee dipping sauce, or the Cooldown Colada ($14) for an alcohol-drenched finish. Served in stemless glassware, the Cooldown reeks of Jamaican sweetness. Rum poached pineapple, coconut sorbet and praline are just the thing you need to keep the jerk chilli downed with the donuts at bay.
Queenie's is one of our new favourite hangouts. With fun food, a considered cocktail list and atmosphere aplenty we're sure to return. And if we haven't convinced you yet, find inspiration in the fact that while at Queenie's you won't be ostracised for going all out. By this, we mean that the eye roll-worthy one liner, ‘Jamaican me hungry’, is completely justified. Do it.