This site has written about the joys of Walthamstow Village, E17, before, and particularly its wonderful selection of pubs that seem to be more than happy to allow children through their doors (see The Castle review). Another plank to this story is the Queen’s Arms in Orford Road, which received a rather dramatic makeover in 2013 from local sports boozer to gastro pub, but for all that has managed not to offend local sensibilities—indeed Time Out referred to it as ‘the right balance between posh and prosaic’.
Even with the fairly rapid gentrification of public houses that has occurred in London over the past 25 years, I would say it’s still hard to find one that does really good food. The standard fare is sausages, burgers or some other meat product; mash or chips; and a bit of—not so well—dressed salad. Not so the Queen’s Arms. Now maybe I’m hopelessly uncultured, but I don’t think I’ve been to a pub before where I’ve struggled to decipher the menu… Bavette steak sandwich, anyone? I’m probably exaggerating though, because steak and kidney pie and smoked haddock fishcake are also on the menu, and of course a Bavette steak is one cut from the flank, and is a cheaper cut than other steaks—in keeping, one might say, with the posh/prosaic balance—so it’s not too hard. Still, you can be guaranteed that it both tastes delicious and has a bit of a twist compared to your normal gastro pub fare. Add to that great wines and beers, served in very clean and nicely shaped glasses (it does make a difference), and the whole experience is pretty special for a pub lunch.
The other aspect of the Queen’s Arms that makes for a great experience is the hands-on service by the waiters/waitresses. Walthamstow Village is pretty unusual in that many of the restaurants and cafés have older waiting staff who stick around for years, meaning hopefully that the pay and conditions are good. It kind of feels like going to John Lewis, where you can get nice stuff amongst nice staff who feel well treated on the whole, and therefore are nice to you, the customer.
Possibly as a place to visit it’s more for adults than children. However, there is plenty of space to roam around, there are colouring materials, and the staff try to make children feel welcome. So, if you are looking for that special birthday or anniversary place to eat, but you know that you also need to take your kids with you, try the Queen’s Arms.
For the menu and other info, see the Queen’s Arms website.