If I'm honest with myself Jamaica is probably one place I'm never going to visit in this lifetime - so little time, so many countries to visit. But not to worry as new Surry Hills recruit Queenie's is bringing a little bit of Jamaica to Sydney.
This little bit of Caribbean paradise can be found upstairs The Forresters and is another fun + hip hangout from the crew behind my Surry Hills favouirte, The Carrington. A quick calculation and I work out that the last time I visited The Forresters was in 1994 (yes I'm THAT old). A LOT has changed since then and the food is certainly way more fun.
We kick things off with a cocktail (or three) - which is how all holidays to a tropical paradise should begin.
We kicked things off with the amusingly named Bammies ($7.00) Traditionally a Bammie is more like a sandwich but Queenies take on it sees the toppings sitting on a rather thick round of bread that was a bit similar to a wholemeal Indian Roti in flavour and texture. Queenie's Bammies come with a choice of two Asian inspired toppings – prawn, mango and ginger or pulled pork and pineapple. This was the perfect little morsel to start our Jamaican feast with.
My favourite dish of the night was the BBQ Jerk Corn with Coconut ($8.00). This was so fantastic that I may have snuck two pieces. I loved the sweetness that the dessicated coconut gave to the corn which offset the spicy flavour from the Jerk rub . Amazing flavours. As Helen so aptly put it this tasted like a sweetcorn lamington!
The Curried Oxtail Patties ($14.00) look fairly reminiscent of The Carrington’s lovely Empanadas and just as flavoursome and delicious. Biting into the crispy pattie/empanada revealed shreds of Oxtail that was so tender and well seasoned.
The Hellshire Ceviche ($16.00) was a zesty tasting dish of snapper, avocado, mango and chilli. Such amazing fresh, light and summery flavours – a really spectacular dish and probably one of the favourites of our group. Each bite felt alive in the mouth. The Pushcart Chicken Wings ($14.00) were another flavour packed dish with a sweet BBQ style marinade and the Calypso Coffee Ribs with Tropical Cauliflower ($15.00) were a real treat. The meat was SO tender that it just fell from the bone, a result of hours cooking in a water bath before its turn on the grill. The marinade was lovely – again smoky and sweet.
Next up is the Coconut Soft Shell Crab ($16.00) with Hotstepper Sauce. The batter was a bit thicker than you’d find in a Japanese restaurant, where Soft Shell Crab is a staple on most menus, and this gave the crab more “bite” and a texture more like firm fish. Really loved this (may or may not have had 3 pieces – oops)!
The Jerk Chicken ($18.00) is wonderful – the dry Jerk rub (aka seasoning) gives the tender meat an amazing flavour with just a little bit of heat. The Sweet Potato Fries with Spice Mayo ($9.00) were also popular at the table being soft a fluffy with just a little bit of crunch – a nice change from regular potato fries. Fusion cuisine makes another appearance with the arrival of the Teriyaki Caribbean Chicken Salad ($16.00). The flavours to me seem mostly Asian – fresh and clean, with a bit of the tropics thrown in for good measure. The Teriyaki chicken comes with a medley of mango, cashews, crispy tortillas (hello Mexico) and Lime Dressing.
We’re all feeling VERY full by this stage but I’m still eagerly awaiting the Dirty Rice ($5.00) and Goat Curry ($28.00). Goat Curry was a first for me. I had expected the flavour to be similar to lamb but much stronger, however the flavour of the goat was actually quite mild, though gamey, and the meat in this curry was REALLY tender. And what is Dirty Rice? It’s not rice that they’ve thrown on the floor – but rice that comes mixed with spices like coriander, mint, allspice and spring onions.
By now I’m rubbing my belly and lamenting that I didn’t wear a looser dress. But wait there’s more!
Chef Jamie Thomas really knows how to challenge a table of food loving bloggers – sending out a platter of Jerk Pork Neck ($35.00). Most of us are full, but we cannot resist the feast before us – Jerk Pork Neck, Jungle Slaw, Pineapple and Chilli Salsa and Bread Rolls. This would be a great platter for a group of 3 or 4 people – I love the concept of DIY rolls, it reminds me of a family BBQ.
Usually there’s always room for dessert, but I have to be honest it was a bit of a struggle after all the wonderful food we’d just eaten. I tried a little bit of the piña colada sundae - which tastes just like the cocktail, though this had the addition of a sweet berry coulis. The doughnuts were really interesting (and thankful tiny) as they came with a slight peppery tasting jerk custard, along with chocolate dipping sauce.
So there you have it....terrible photos of amazing food (maybe that should become my blog name)! I'll be back as soon as I can to eat more Bammies and sweet sweet corn!
Queenies can be found upstairs at The Forresters - Corner Foveaux and Riley Street. They take bookings...so call them on 9212-3035.