There's something instrumental about The Queens Tavern in Highgate (or Mount Lawley as most refer to it). For one thing, it's almost always completely packed. For another, it tends to be the go to for many urban pub crawlers.
Is it the lolly-flavoured vodkas that they sell in most drink orders by women? Probably since the flavours include strawberries and cream, redskin, pineapple and musk.
Or is it the location? Right across the road from the likes of Must Wine Bar and close to Luxe, Two Fat Indians and even the Scottish Arms. It's a place that offers convenience and prime people watching positioning.
Even though it is slightly overrated, I have to say I do enjoy going to The Queens. I like the friendly staff and the beer garden that allows you to soak up the sunshine in summer. And I like the signature dish on their menu, The Queens cajun chicken salad.
Since I'm craving salad, Jeremy's suggested we go here knowing I'll enjoy my fix of greens for dinner.
We arrive at 6.30 and are lucky enough to snag one of the last tables indoors (it's heavily raining tonight). We don't have a booking but things are going in our favour as we see that there is a heater right above us.
The menu is your general listing of foods, some with a slight oriental twist; things like coconut prawns and duck spring rolls, plus your general fare of steak or fish & chips.
Jeremy goes for one of the Wednesday night specials after going back and forward between several dishes. It's panko crumbed chicken sitting in a warming bowl of thai green curry, vegetables and rice.
Thai green curry
The chicken is a generous serving; the panko light and without a trace of oil residue. And the curry itself is light, sweet and of course, spicy. It's not quite what you would get at a proper thai restaurant, but it still tastes nice and suits the rainy weather outside.
As expected I've gone for the cajun chicken salad.
The Queens cajun chicken salad
It's just the most ridiculously large salad I've ever encountered. It feels like almost half a chicken is sitting on my plate, stacked high on top of a bed of spinach leaves, creamy avocado, cherry tomatoes, cashews, shaved parmesan and crispy noodles.
The sauce drizzled over the top is what I guess they call cajun though it lacks the spice combination to live up to this. However it tastes great and makes the salad even more amazing.
What I particularly love is the combination of textures. There's softness and crunch. A snapping noise and a cool creaminess. It's so simple yet seemingly complex.
Yes it is just a salad. But it is so much more. It's a flavour packed, fresh ingredient heaven. A plate that you enjoy from start to end (if you ever make it). And the best part of all, you don't even feel bad eating your weight in this dish because it's primarily good for you. Yeeha.