In the last year, two more restaurants were opened under the rapidly expanding Drink and Dine Group empire where they reinvent seedy old pubs (The Carrington, The Norfolk, The Abercrombie to name a few) and turn them into gourmet feeds thanks to D&D's executive chef, Jamie Thomas who is keeping a busy life looking after and designing menus for all of Drink and Dine's restaurants! While most of them are pretty much 'dude food', it is the food that delivers a buzzing atmosphere where you can literally drink, dine and have fun with your mates as you like. The Forresters and Queenies are no different to the others when it comes to tasty food with an incredibly social atmosphere.
This was originally set up primarily as an Italian restaurant but since August, they have drastically changed their menu to include Americanised specialities but keeping the pizzas and some of the pasta favourites as well as their daily specials - a common theme under the Drink and Dine restaurants.
I was so keen to get the Pulled Pork slider as a starter. This did not disappoint. It is a single serving snack (thankfully!) with a mouthful of tender, shredded pork tucked between a buttery and crusty brioche bun that is just tempting to the eye.
Pulled pork slider ($ 5.50)
CC was keen for the nuggets which are crunchy to our liking. Since the rest of us ended up having a lot of food (more on that soon), we did not manage to finish this as it is a generous serving on its own.
Chicken nuggets ($10)
MT is keen to try out the Picnic Chicken. I presume that it is a chicken as messy looking as a Picnic chocolate bar. Anyway, we thought that the Picnic chicken will be a reasonable size. That the chicken itself will possibly be the size of a chicken that you will get at say El Jannahs. It even has Parmesan fries and a Southern salad on the side. How big could it be? Oh man we were wrong.
On the positive side, it did taste pretty juicy, the salad helped with balancing the overall taste, and at $22 it is very good value for money. But it is just too massive. I think had we not order other dishes, we may have been able to finish this off.
Picnic Chicken... ohmygawd...($22)
However on the night we went, it was their Wednesday special of $10 pizzas with a selection of 5 of their popular flavours. CC and I chose the 'A Meatball Affair' pizza to share while we order "smaller" dishes. After seeing other customers getting their pizzas, we were aware on how big this pizza will be. Just as big as MT'S picnic chicken. Personally, I think there needs to be a bit more meatball but the hero of the dish is the light and thin crust which made it all manageable for us to finish it.
A Meatball Affair Pizza with smoked mozzarella and meatballs ($10 on Wednesday 6-10pm, $22 every other day)
It is no surprise that about this point we were horribly stuffed and it did not help that we have already ordered a pretty generous bowl of fries. They were so crunchy yet fluffy so we did our best to eat as much as possible. The sauce helped us a lot with this dish though.
And the lesson is: when the Drink and Dine Group say their food is meant to be shared, the portions will be incredible that it is impossible to eat a main meal on your own. Despite all this, we all really enjoyed it and CC and MT were definitely satisfied with how delicious it was on the whole and are all very keen to come back here soon. In fact, it was a fun experience on the whole. We'll go easy on ordering the food next time.
A month or so later, I checked out Queenies, a Caribbean/Jamaican restaurant which has been opened recently. Now located in The Forresters old sit-down area upstairs, this is big plus for diners who are keen to try a different cuisine while having a beer under the same roof.
In Queenies' menu, it's all about the jerk (a type of Jamaican spice) and a good dose of shredded coconut. Even on the complimentary dish of pickled cucumbers, there are shredded bits of coconut with a very sneaky jerk seasonal rub to give a good amount of heat to something as simple as cucumber. And that's just the starter!
Bammies. I think you have become my new favourite food! It looks very similar to a taco with a thicker, crusted, cassava-based flatbread. It's a bit hard to cut through but it's bite sized so you can manage to eat it by hand. There are two flavours offered by Queenies: Pulled Pork & Pineapple and Prawn, Mango & Ginger. Both are perfect to have for yourself. The prawn flavour tasted quite fruity and sweet thanks to the mango and ginger while the pulled pork has that juicy meaty taste with a helping of coriander and chopped radish - making it look almost like a taco al-pastor. Definitely coming back for these next time!
Pulled Pork and Pineapple Bammy ($7)
Prawn, Mango and Ginger Bammy ($7)
The first reaction when coming across this dish was how it looked so much like those yummy empanadas or even curry puffs. These are just as delicious with a slightly spicy curried filling and juicy oxtail meat. The uniquely refreshing cucumber and chilli yoghurt balances perfectly with the seasoned, meaty filling.
Curried Oxtail Patties ($14)
This dish is so refreshing to have on a hot day with a colourful presentation. It is full of juicy, sweet and crunchiness from the soft fillets of snapper to the abundant mango being piled onto the tortilla chip. Was hoping for more tortilla chips because the ceviche is very generous. Though it has pieces of chilli, it's actually very mild. Great for the spice-intolerant and perfect for the summer weather.
Hellshire Ceviche ($16)
While the curried patties were similar to empanadas and curried puffs, and the bammies looked like tacos; the decent serving of coconut soft shell crab reminded me of the crispy soft shell crab from Japanese restaurants. Only much crispier. Golden brown crunchiness. Despite its name, I didn't seem to detect much coconut flavour but nevertheless it's worth a try for the crunchy battered coating and the juicy crab. And the hotstepper sauce really lives up to its name!
Coconut Soft Shell Crab w/Hotstepper Sauce ($16)
Dirty Rice ($5)
While Jamaican cuisine is something we don't see very often in Sydney, their food seems to inspired by various cuisines. Keen to come back for the jerk pork burger and the smoked pork loin next time. Hope to see more Jamaican restaurants around in the near future. Especially those bammies!
Cnr Foveaux and Riley Street, Surry Hills, 2010
(02) 9212 3035
Level 1 (Upstairs), The Forresters
Cnr Foveaux and Riley Street, Surry Hills, 2010
(02) 9212 3035