The Queen’s Head Inn & Restaurant, Kirkby la Thorpe
Lincolnshire Life visits The Queen’s Head Inn & Restaurant in Kirkby La Thorpe on a warm summer evening.
It’s not very often I visit restaurants on a Sunday, but having looked at their website I noticed The Queen’s Head change their Sunday menu each week, so I thought we would give this a try.
John Clark, owner and Head Chef, and his partner Paul, have turned the restaurant into a destination eatery. His passion for creating exciting, beautiful food stems from his childhood living on a farm in North Lincolnshire and his experience working in the heart of the Burgundy wine region at the Château de Bellecroix, in Chagny.
On arrival we were warmly greeted and asked to take a seat in the bar, where we were promptly welcomed by a waiter who showed us the day’s menu. Aside from the menu choices, there was also the specials board. During the week they also serve a lunch time and à la carte menu.
As it was such a lovely evening outside, I opted for the pan fried scallops with smoked bacon and pine nuts in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. The salad was beautiful, crisp and light, the scallops perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the bacon had a nice bite, just how I like it. The dish was a perfect summer dish, and if visiting at lunch this would have made a perfect main course.
My guest opted for the baked capped mushrooms with a creamy garlic sauce and topped with Lincolnshire Poacher cheese. For someone who prefers vegetarian menu choices and is an avid cheese fan, this was the perfect choice for him. I can only presume the dish went down well, as it seemed to disappear in minutes.
Whilst we waited for our mains it gave us time to take in the setting. The bar area was busy when we arrived and the restaurant was just as busy with couples, groups and families. The décor is traditional, with open fires, brickwork and art adorning the walls. I don’t normally mention the bathrooms in the establishments that I visit, but I am a firm believer that the bathrooms show what a venue is really like, and John has made sure that the modern décor and clean lines make his stand out.
Another thing to point out is the number of awards John has won during his time at The Queen’s Head. Plaques adorn the fireplaces, certificates are placed on the side tables, and there are stickers in the window. In 2016 John was a finalist in the Lincolnshire Life Taste of Excellence Awards for Chef of the Year and Pub of the Year.
There is a traditional feel to John’s food, and although he uses new, modern techniques, the style of his food is very classic, and before our mains arrived the sides of veg and potatoes were served. For my main course I chose the pan fried Gressingham duck breast served on a bed of sweet potato with an apricot, brandy and orange sauce. In my opinion there is only one way to serve duck, and that is pink. Whilst I understand people prefer their meat to be cooked through, I am of the view that meat served pink is more flavoursome. I wasn’t disappointed, the duck was pink through and perfect. The sweet potato and sauce added a sweet kick and the veg completed the dish.
My guest chose the rump steak from the specials board, which was served with onion rings, tomatoes and mushrooms. It was also accompanied by a side of chips and veg. We spend a lot of our time eating out, trying new places as well as revisiting old haunts, but we have struggled to find a venue that makes a good steak. John has this down to an art, with the steak cooked perfectly rare and mouth melting. The side dishes were an indulgent extra, and even my guest, who has a reputation for finishing not only his own plate but also everyone else’s, struggled – although I think this may have had something to do with him wanting to have a dessert!
Although we were both comfortably full, we decided to look at the dessert menu, as our reviews wouldn’t paint a full picture if we didn’t. I went for the classic flavours of a white chocolate crème brûlée with a side of chocolate torte – if you can ever say chocolate torte is a side – served with homemade shortbread biscuits and cream. It was a chocolate lover’s heaven, the torte was extremely dense and the crème brûlée was simply divine.
My guest went for his favourite combination of banana and toffee, made into an Eton Mess. He was thoroughly impressed with the way it was served, in a wine glass with shortbread on the side. Although he didn’t manage to finish it all, I am assured it was divine and had he any room left, he wouldn’t have had any issues finishing it.
We left comfortably full, having enjoyed our experience, and are looking forward to our return soon.