7 February 2024

New-look Queenies has ditched the gluten and kept the flavour

| Lucy Ridge
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Potato and cauliflower dish in foreground with haloumi dish and bowl of beans behind.

Queenies Restaurant and Bar has a 100 per cent gluten-free menu. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

I was curious when I heard a rumour that Kingston cocktail bar and restaurant Queenies had changed hands, and even more intrigued when the new menu was announced: the whole thing is totally gluten-free. So I went along to try it out with my sister, who is gluten intolerant.

Arriving for dinner on a Friday night, we were treated to live music from a local jazz duo. Why don’t more restaurants and bars book live music? It’s delightful!

While browsing the menu, we asked about their non-alcoholic options and were delighted to learn that all of their house cocktails could be made without alcohol! Each cocktail is dedicated to a different woman of note. I enjoyed a Lores (with alcohol), which is dedicated to Maude ‘Lores’ Bonney, the first woman to fly solo from Australia to Britain, and my sister enjoyed a non-alcoholic fruity Marilyn (presumably Monroe). The Lores was very light and refreshing with savoury basil and cucumber notes.

Having so many options on the menu was a bit overwhelming for someone used to making do with one or two choices, but we picked a load of dishes to share.

Two cocktails on a marble high top table.

Any of the house cocktails at Queenies can be made alcohol-free. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

We started with delicious eggplant chips and crispy squid. The texture of fried foods can be challenging to perfect when using gluten-free flour, but the Queenies team have nailed it. Both servings were quite large, so in hindsight, we could have just chosen one to share.

For our main meal, we shared a potato galette with roasted cauliflower in garlic coconut cream, green beans in pesto and grilled halloumi topped with peach, beetroot and currants.

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The halloumi dish was a wonderful mix of salty and sweet, with a balsamic tang and celebratory summer flavours. The potato galette managed to be filling without being heavy, and I quite enjoyed the garlic coconut cream.

Acknowledging that we’d over-ordered and would have leftovers anyway, we left room for dessert and packed a few things into a takeaway container.

Fried squid in bowl on colourful tablecloth

The fried dishes at Queenies have a proper crunch despite a lack of gluten. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The Signature Queenies Cheesecake is a hangover from the previous chef and remains delicious: a deconstructed scoop of cheesecake on biscuit crumb with a rich miso and caramel sauce. My sister chose the chestnut panna cotta with macadamia praline and coconut gelato.

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The service was friendly, if a little slow, but we were happy to sip on our cocktails and listen to the musicians. The food isn’t cheap, but it is delicious, and a lot of thought and hard work have been put into the menu.

In addition to the fully gluten-free menu, there were lots of dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. There’s plenty to recommend the food here, regardless of your dietary requirements, and it’s an excellent choice for groups with a mix of allergies.

Queenies Restaurant and Bar is located on the corner of Kennedy and Giles Streets in Kingston. They are open from 4 pm to 10 pm every day. Make a booking on their website or follow Queenies on Facebook or Instagram.

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