Restaurant Review: The Queen of Hoxton

Up on the roof for daiquiris and Dirty Dancing in Shoreditch

Handily located just a few minutes from Liverpool Street station, The Queen of Hoxton is a bar and club over three floors with a rooftop garden and barbecue. It was a beautiful early summer’s evening when we visited, so we headed up to the rooftop; though the stairs are not for the faint-hearted, there are some murals en route to help make the climb a bit easier. The rooftop is Cuban-inspired, so the entire bar is filled with Bacardi bottles and signs, resulting in an awkward moment when my opening question was misheard as “Do you have any Bacardi?”

We soon got down to the serious business of sampling all this place has to offer. We started with a cocktail, both opting for a Hemingway Daiquiri after the barman kindly pointed out that this frozen mango, paprika and chilli concoction has “a bit of a kick”. Besides the daiquiris, there’s also a choice of batidos (Cuban milkshakes) and “Cafe con Hello” (iced coffee cocktails), plus all manner of Bacardi mixes to try. The cocktail menu isn’t huge, but what it does do, it does very well.

Since the rooftop has been transformed into “Smokin’ Graciela’s” until September 2015, the Cuban inspiration doesn’t end with the bar menu; there’s also half a vintage car to sit in (perfect for preserving the memories with a photo or two). Bar manager Nick and the rest of the team made us feel very welcome, suggesting we try something from the barbecue. We opted for a Cubanos (a hot Cuban sandwich with slow-roasted pulled pork, Swiss cheese and pickles) and a Ropa Vieja (shredded beef with dirty rice and peas, grilled plantain and Cuban slaw). You can also choose from prawn, mango and pepper skewers, Creole fried chicken or sweet potato with falafel, which should cover most palates. The food was delicious, full of flavour and cooked fresh in front of us, but probably not ideal for a first date; my Cubanos was packed with pulled pork and cheese and was thus impossible to eat in an elegant manner, though the rest of the options come with a fork. The sub-£8 price tag per dish was a welcome surprise – food this tasty is rarely so affordable.

Since it was Tuesday and the sun was shining we felt the need to celebrate, switching to a bottle of prosecco and some people-watching. The bar regularly hosts events, including a Monday night Ukulele Hootenanny where you can borrow a uke and have a go. On the night we visited there was a showing of Dirty Dancing at the rooftop cinema, complete with wireless headphones and popcorn. The movies on offer this summer range from recent releases such as Whiplash and Under the Skin to classics like Clueless and The Goonies. However, the film showing does mean that the rooftop closes for non-filmgoers at 8.30pm (it’s usually open until either 12am or 2am depending on the day).

The film night’s early cut-off makes this the perfect spot for a first date, giving you the chance for an early exit or to see where the night takes you, depending on how it’s going. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a fun twist on dinner and a movie or want to try learning a new musical skill as an icebreaker, this could be the place for you.

Sadly we couldn’t stick around for Dirty Dancing (I'm sure we would have had the time of our lives – it’s one of my personal favourites), but I think we’ll be back; after all, they’re showing Grease on 26 July…

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