The Queen’s Head Inn and Restaurant, Kirkby La Thorpe
Carla Watt visited the Queens Head Inn & Restaurant, Kirkby la Thorpe.
If I have not visited before, I make time to check the online presence of a restaurant. A website can orientate me to not only the location and identification of the business but also the chance to anticipate the experience; from décor to accolades and of course those tempting menus.
Needless to say I was looking forward to our visit which was made on a Friday evening in early autumn. The Queens Head is located alongside the A17 just outside Sleaford, so easy to find with easy parking and accessibility in front of the premises. Many other diners had already arrived ahead of us.
A large warm and welcoming fire was blazing in the main bar, the blackboard above the mantelpiece showing the daily specials menu. Tempting starters included crispy fried whitebait with tartare sauce, lemon and garnish or a warm salad of king scallops, smoked bacon with smoked oil dressing. There were some important dining decisions to be made! This area is furnished with plenty of comfortable seating and choices of table options; perfect for a less formal meal but we had come to dine in the restaurant, which is the next room beyond. Accessed from the bar is also an elegantly designed conservatory, ideal for private dining and celebrations.
The attentiveness and friendliness of the staff was one of the highlights of our visit and for us this is also the hallmark of the traditional quality and values which diners will experience at the Queens Head.
Once seated, I was busy taking in some of the pictures on the walls while also considering the wide menu choices. The pub classics as well as the blackboard specials were well read but in the end we both went for à la carte options. I started with goats’ cheese bruschetta served with tomato and red pepper relish, while my daughter chose pan roasted king scallops served with ratatouille, basil leaf and balsamic glaze. There was a choice of eight other starters on this menu alone, so you can be sure all tastes and dietary requirements can be met.
Other starters included roasted breast of wood pigeon with black pudding fritters; chicken liver parfait with Cumberland sausage and toasted walnut bread or creamed leek tart topped with Welsh rarebit. Our starters were beautifully presented and thoroughly delicious and had set quite a bar for the rest of the meal.
For our main courses I had chosen breast of Gressingham duck served with pomme royale, griddled fennel and a red wine sauce. A dish of seasonal vegetables was served on the side. Beautifully presented again, this is accomplished cooking which reflects the awards owner John Clark and the kitchen have received. John’s passion for good, locally sourced food stems from his upbringing on a farm in North Lincolnshire and his experience in classic French cuisine in the heart of the Burgundy region of France.
My daughter chose a classic sirloin steak served with mushrooms and garnish accompanied by a creamy black peppercorn and brandy sauce. Other dishes on the menu included loin of venison with truffle mash and butternut squash puree; pan fried seabass served with saffron shallots and red pepper mash or roasted butternut squash and spinach curry with wild rice. Ours had been generous portions but not so overwhelming that we could not consider having a dessert.
There were more autumn inspired dishes on the dessert menu with a tempting blackberry fool with crushed pistachios and shortbread biscuits or a Baked Alaska served with fresh raspberries. We went for crème brûlée for me and chocolate brownie. I think my pictures will be self-explanatory as regards how beautiful these plates of food were and we both agreed they tasted as good as they looked.
The menus at the Queens Head are packed with credits to local ingredients and suppliers. The commitment to sourcing excellent quality Lincolnshire produce where possible had shone through the menus for me.
In an era where the traditional qualities of classic cooking styles and a welcoming, timeless environment with friendly and efficient service can be hard to locate, head to Kirkby la Thorpe and envelop yourself in warmth and deliciousness.