Simply ask Siri where to find a high-quality, reasonably-priced, local restaurant and your head will ache from information overload. Or better yet, ask a local where to dine for a not-so-run-of-the-mill meal and you may find that the answer is not so simple. The options seem endless, yet seldom please the palate.
As the former Maximo Seafood Shack owner, it takes a lot for a restaurant to gain my respect. Honestly, I can make a decent and affordable meal at home. So, when I choose where to spend my cash and dazzle my guests on a decent dining-out experience in St. Petersburg, only a handful of restaurants come to mind. And The Queens Head Eurobar & Restaurant is at the top of the list.
The Queens Head is a “Gastropub” known for British fare with a mix of Italian heritage in a relaxed, trendy atmosphere. It’s upbeat and informal, artsy with a touch of Oscar Wilde. It’s the kind of place I would go to by myself and sit at the bar to watch a live performance while enjoying adult beverages, or take my partner out for a fun night on the town.
Queens Head is also an uncommon favorite for locals due to the quality of food, atmosphere and service. And the owner, Tracy Asalita, knows a thing or two about serving high-quality reasonably-priced food, and even more about preparing food using authentic ingredients with delicious-looking presentations.
But let’s get to the meat of the matter. Last week, my wife and I visited The Queens Head to support Dining Out for Life, an annual dining fundraising event that raises money for AIDS service organizations. As a Queens Head newbie, I was tempted but skeptical to try the Pan Seared Haddock served with white wine-caper-tomato sauce over risotto.
As a professional fishmonger, I find that landing edible seafood in a Florida restaurant is a legend of grandeur, perpetuated by advertisements and vivid billboard images meant to attract locals and far away guests as if there is a vast myriad of seafood options available at every corner. Sad but true. And yet another delectable fin-fare appetizer item caught my eye – seared sea scallops served with caramelized Brussels sprouts, bacon and shallots.
Perplexed, but the overall vibe along with the delightful wine selection was enough to spark my interest, I threw caution to the wind, ordered both, and was surprisingly pleased.
At first take, each meal was portioned and presented well. And then taste. The haddock was seasoned to perfection, light and flavorful, and dusted with a fine crust of gluten-free starch that married well with the wine-caper-tomato sauce which paired nicely with the light buttery risotto. The scallops were fresh and exactly cooked. Simple as it may seem, scallops can be easily undercooked or overcooked within a matter of minutes. These were not. They were lightly seasoned but flavorful, well prepared, with a portion size fit for a meal rather than appetizer.
And finally the dessert – a gluten free chocolate torte. Can’t possibly go wrong with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache with berry coulis, I thought (even though I wasn’t quite sure what the meaning of it all was). Bring it on! It was nothing short of amazing over-the-top chocolate madness! Smooth, silky, rich and so flavorful that it was hard to believe it was gluten free.
So that’s the scoop. Check out Queens Head. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -Virginia Woolf