ST. PETERSBURG – The Queens Head is a cozy little gastropub that has the welcoming appeal of a neighborhood bar, but also serves top-notch British and European cuisine.
This is the kind of place where you can enjoy a beer at the long bar or sit down for a dinner of Seared Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Brussels Sprouts Sauteed in Bacon ($18).
In three recent visits, one with our daughter along for her birthday, we had friendly, prompt service and tasty high-end pub food, such as the Sauteed Mussels in a Chablis Cream Broth ($18).
Our daughter is a vegetarian and loved the deep-fried Crispy Cauliflower Cheddar Croquettes in a Lemon Aioli ($8).
Also for "Starters," we split Seared Scallops wrapped in Cherrywood Smoked Bacon ($10). The scallops were plump and not overcooked, a feat that many kitchens find hard to accomplish.
One of our favorite dinners was the Fish and Chips ($15), an oversized haddock filet. It was fresh-tasting with a crisp coating, light and not oily. Haddock is a staple in Maine, our home state, where it is caught in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and served fresh. The haddock dinner at Queens Head rivaled the best fried fish dinners we've had up north. Likewise, the fries were homemade and thick-cut wedges.
We also enjoyed the Bloody Mary Steak ($19), which was cooked to order, slathered in spicy Bloody Mary sauce and served with celery root mashed potatoes.
The Bangers and Mash ($15) included pork sausage cooked in a port shallot reduction with handmade mashed potatos with chives. The potatoes were simply prepared – chunky, and neither too dry nor too creamy. The deep purple port shallot reduction pooled around the sausages for a truly English meal.
The Queens Head calls itself a Eurobar and Restaurant, a long description for such a small drinking and dining area, where the bar dominates the room. But with low-key friendliness and casual elegance, it's easy for diners to enjoy their meals without feeling overwhelmed by the bar crowd.
Make no mistake: This is a bar that serves food, not a restaurant with a bar. They have a fine selection of wines and international bottled beers. And the entertainment and atmosphere has a distinct La Cage Aux Folles flair.
Wednesdays, it's trivia night with "Trixie the Tranny," and we stayed as the place filled up with regulars for a lively contest on U.S. History, Movies and Music. It was a lot of fun, with some serious trivia buffs making the gathering a challenge.
Located in the trendy Grand Central District, the Queens Head never fails to surprise and delight – and make everyone feel right at home.
If you go
The Queens Head Restaurant and Eurobar
2501 Central Ave.
Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30 p.m.-midnight; Friday: 4:30 p.m.-3 a.m.; Saturday, noon-3 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.