44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LN
In London, traditional pubs seem to be dominated by old men or business types in suits. The first turn a public house into death’s waiting room and the latter make a gaff offer up some over-priced supermarket salad tagged with a pretentious Italian name. So I often try to seek out a diamond in the rough through merely looking at a pub’s clientele.
The Old Queen’s Head attracts a more younger yet professional crowd, in the sense that I spot a group of immaculate beards sat mumbling in the corner. Some look like university students as I eye a few books, and there’s not an old man or suit in sight.
Plastic heads are mounted on plaques on the wall and there’s many quirky objects to poke your eye out with. The atmosphere is friendly and everyone is in deep conversation. I saunter to the bar and order a cider. Fitting for a pub setting, there is a delightful number of cider, ale and lager pumps. Naturally with a younger crowd there is a menu featuring a cocktail of the week and pornstar martinis.
This pub has character and the type of cosiness you would expect. I could sink into their old sofas and spend my whole night in a cushioned cider ecstasy. The Old Queen’s Head also features a number of events including comedy, live music and plays which makes every night a little different. Admittedly the bands that play aren’t a great reason to go but live background music is never a negative.
The Old Queen’s Head hosts quiz nights too, which are slightly more interactive than your average pub game. It involves dance-offs and dirty drawings but I’m told by the host (spider from Corrie?) that it’s different every week. The place swells on these nights and I found it quite uncomfortable being wedged beside an onion-smelling man that I didn’t know.
On the food menu the company Physic Burger hosts a list of American-style cuisine including their speciality burgers. I opt for the Spice Up Your Life platter which offers a bit of everything for four or more people to share. It comes with El Jimador Tequila with a dash of Tabasco and the obligatory lime, a nice kick starter to our meal.
The platter looks like a feast fit for a king though it’s missing its rack of ribs. The apologetic staff told us they had ran out which was a bit of an odd mistake considering we had put in our order days before we were due to arrive. We ordered some extra food to make up for our loss.
The fries are layered with a spicy lasagne which works beautifully, making for lively flavours. The chicken wings don’t make you feel as though you’re about to go into cardiac arrest as with normal fried morsels of chicken. Oozy cheese balls slavered in Chipotle sauce make putting soggy balls in your mouth more pleasurable than usual. I’m not about to stop now because I’ve made it my mission to eat everything in this Spice Girl platter, though my stomach gets the better of me as my belly forms the closest thing I’ll get to a baby, causing me to look pregnant.
As I stroll outside for a post-food cigarette, I notice that a crazy amount of runners pass the pub frequently, making me want to puke up the contents of my dinner. The area is quite trendy and you can’t help but feel you need to dress up to be in Angel.
The bar staff are accommodating and helpful, having the patience to explain to me everything that goes into their drinks. Almost everything at the Old Queen’s Head fits into my ideal of the perfect pub; fast food, fast pints, and fast living. I’ll be heading back to nurse a hangover with a Sunday roast and a Bloody Mary but I won’t be holding out on that rack of ribs.