Mother of all mezes? Queen of Cups, Glastonbury, Somerset.

This week (after a bazillion years), I reached (briefly) the giddy heights of 4000 followers on Twitter. I think this qualifies me as a planck lengthinfluenza” and it is rather apt with this post linking in to Mother’s Day, as I am sure it took my mum a lot of effort to set up those nigh on 4000 accounts.

Anyhow, to the matter at hand (Ok I may digress a bit, well alot, before we get there).

Glastonbury is not a place I tend to associate with good food (weird hippy shxt yes, but food not some much – it is unusual to see people in cloaks outside of a ecclesiatical setting in Cardiff, but it seems they are de riguer Saturday night wear in Glasto).

Looking for somewhere to take my Mother for a “We’re going out Saturday night because I’m not paying for an overpriced Mother’s Day menu” venue, my sister suggested the Queen of Cups in Glastonbury (I spent my secondary school years dossing around in that neck of the woods and my sister and mother still live in the area).

I rather liked the idea for two reasons, these being: 1) the food is very Levantine (with nods to the Magreb) in nature (with the chef a Jordanian), a cuisine I love; and 2) Queen of Cups, as a tarot card (peak Glastonbury), is meant to signify (amongst other things) a nuturing mother, so rather apt I thought.

Inside it is a tad spartan, but the menu certainly belies the somewhat humble venue. All sounded rather fine, with an emphasis on the Middle Eastern mezze style of eating. Right up my street (which happens to be the town next to Glastonbury 😁), this type of sharing food.

Because we are a contrary bunch, with my mother and sister rarely agreeing with me on many things that I am right about, we were unlikely to agree on what to order, so we took the easy route and left it in the chef’s hands with the Queen’s Feast (£32.50 a head).

First up were a couple of bowls of house pickles.

By the look of them I immediately thought beetroot, but the pepperiness and crunch was more reminiscent of a radish. Whatever they were they were rather nice with a well judged hand at the tiller in terms of the level of pickling and spicing.

Next up was a trio of “dips”

The hummus was silky smooth, with a punchy pool of chilli oil and whole chick peas and pines nuts bathing in said pool. Nice hit of garlic, without it overpowering. I often find hummus a bit boring, but this was top notch stuff.

Labneh (a creamy middle eastern soft cheese) was tangy and rich

and worked a treat with confit baby leeks and the crunch of the spicy pangrattato (breadcrumbs to you and me). A liberal application of herbal and nutty za’atar added nicely to the mix.

I was slightly worried that the last dip, a pumpkin and apricot number, would be too sweet for my tastes.

Whilst there was sweetness in the pureed pumpkin and the apricot, the heat of the harissa and the tangy sourness of the preserved lemons brought a nice balance to this dish. Spicing was bob on yet again.

Now you can’t have these sort of dippy dishes without good bread and boy did they deliver on that front. The frena (Morrocan style bread) x 2 was just glorious.

Slightly crisp on the outside, with a good whack of salt, and light and fluffy on the inside. This was the perfect foil for the trio of drips.

Tout suite, two large bowls of roasted new potatoes, topped with a huge amount of crispy shallots arrived.

Billed as being in a sticky raisin and sherry sauce (presumably a PX base), I didn’t really get the sherry element with it more like a Middle Eastern riff on a Bombay potato.

Nice, but the two large bowls of it was a bit OTT and we took pretty much a whole bowl full home (in a doggy bag).

Personally I would have preferred one bowl of the potatoes and one of another dish on the menu, say the celeriac with tamarind and harissa or the laverbread (a nod to the chef’s time on Anglesey) falafels.

The next dish was an absolute bobby dazzler.

Charred on the grill, nabulsi cheese (a Palestinian cheese akin to halloumi) sat in a slick of Persian black lime honey and was topped with confit lemon and fresh oregano.

The salty cheese worked perfectly with the sweetness of the honey (which itself had a tanginess from the limes infused within it). The sourness of the confit lemon added another layer to the mix as did the peppery, slight bitterness of the fresh oregano. Just a lovely dish this, with so much going on, but with the flavours all complementing each other rather than clashing.

The first of two meat courses then arrived,

in the form of baharat chicken yakatori (with Lisbon onion – aka spring onions). Slightly oddly name, as yakatori translates to grilled chicken so this reads “baharat chicken grilled chicken“.

Putting the name aside, the baharat spice brought a pleasing earthy smokiness to the dish adding nicely to the char on the juicy chicken pieces. The spring onions provided a mellow alium hit and crunch, with the toasted breadcrumbs bringing further texture.

Interesting fusion dish this, with both Japan and the Levantine famous for their meat on skewer games.

The final dish, lavender lamb with plums, was another cracker.

The lamb had been slow cooked to a fall apart shredded tenderness, with subtle notes of lavender (something that can overpower in the wrong hands).

Bejewelled pomegrante seeds and a sorrel infused yoghurt added welcome acidity, with the roasted plums giving the dish a pleasing touch of sweetness. The rainbow chard bought earthiness and just a smidgen of bitterness.

Kaftaiti (string pastry) added texture, with the giant couscous acting as flavour sponges. The red shatta (a chilli based sauce) added piquancy to the proceedings.

Really clever and pleasing dish this, with all the taste receptors being triggered. A fine end to a fine meal.

We passed on desserts, as we were stuffed.

They sounded nice, particularly the dark chocolate mousse bars, but seemed disportionately pricey as against the rest of the menu.

On the drinks front, it is nice to see they have the very local Pilton cider (very pleasant it is too) and a local sparkling wine (from Wedmore).

The conscientious of opinion was, however, in favour of red wine.

Tempting as the Chateau Musar was (£33 retail as against £75.50 on the list – why the 50p🤔), with a rather fine Mystere Wine Club tasting of their wines lined up for this month,

my sister rather balked at the price so we decided to go for a Spanish number (not from Italy, as the menu said) from the Jumilla winery Casa De La Ermita (£34 on the list and about £15 retail)

Somewhat unusually for Jumilla (which is very much monastrell country) this was a cabernet sauvignon dominated blend.

Nice plummy notes, with a touch of violet it worked particularly well with the lamb.

The verdict

This place has recently got a Bib Gourmand from the rubber reviewers and I think it is richly deserved.

Really interesting food on display, with the kitchen showing a very fine handle on how to apply spicing and extract maximum flavour. Good value too.

Service was good, if a little laissez faire/on Glasto “manana” time in nature. It always mystifies me as to why in some restaurants it seems such a struggle to pay the bill (you would think that would be a priority in a busy restaurant so as to turn the table 🤷)

My mother picked up some of their confit lemons and put an order in for the Persian black lime honey, both of which they sell retail in jars. I would have picked up a jar of the honey had they not sold out that evening.

Well worth a visit if you happen to be in that neck of the woods (I hear tell there is a small festival in the area come June)

Perhaps climb the Tor to build up an appetite (you will need a good one as portions are on the generous side) prior to dinner.

The details

Address: 10-12 Northload Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9JJ,



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