When drinking in London, you can get caught in a bit of a dilemma: go to a cool place but risk both the bar staff and clientele laughing at your shoes, or go to a friendly cheap-and-cheerful pub but risk someone fighting you for your shoes. Luckily, some places manage to combine the best of both worlds, which is why I made my way to one of London’s quirkiest pubs, The Old Queen’s Head, to not only take their food and drink for a spin, but their famed pub quiz also.
Venue and Atmosphere
The Old Queen’s Head is a joy to look at. The bottom floor is designed to look like a fake country manor, with taxidermy deer and goats adorned with lights on the walls next to absurdist portraits and skulls kept in jars. There are large red-and-brown chesterfield sofas to sink into and chairs around their bright cerulean bar in case you want to have a chat with one of their bar staff, giving the whole bar a social feel. Upstairs is largely the same, though a lot more shabby chic and open-space, probably to reflect that this floor is used primarily for dancing come the weekend.
The crowd is mainly younger here, attracted to the reasonably priced food and drinks, and fun atmosphere throughout the week. Depending on the day, you’ll get a different type of night, with a more ‘cool pub’ vibe going on the Tuesday we visited to a more raucous (though stopping short of club bar) atmosphere on the rowdy Fridays.
Food and Quiz
You’re really spoilt for choice when you drink beer at The Old Queen’s Head, with the pumps offering everything from real ale to craft lagers downstairs, to a wide variety of canned and bottled beer across the venue. As we sat upstairs in anticipation for the pub quiz, we ordered a can of Pilsner and decided to line our stomachs with some great Lucky Chip meals.
My friend – specifically chosen for his super-power of drinking beer and winning at quizzes – and I decided to start with a feast of their comfort cuisine, for brain food obviously. I chose the Royale Wit Cheese Burger (£9.20), with bacon, American cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, ketchup, mustard and special sauce, mostly because I am a Quentin Tarantino fan and a sucker for references. But it was no mistake: the patty was tender and delicious, with the classic elements working together to elevate it above your typical burger. My friend chose the Gus Fring’s Chicken Burger (£8.95), with cheese, cream soda BBQ sauce and mayo. Again, the fried chicken was great, packing flavour in its skin. What’s important to note is that these aren’t small burgers: they may be delicious, but they don’t skimp on portion size.
This was the theme throughout the meal, with the sides being hearty portions too. The spicy mayo cheese fries (£4.50) were covered in flavoursome sauce, and packed just enough punch to be delightful, while the buffalo hot wings (£6.75) with blue cheese dressing was probably the best side (though not the easiest to eat while playing a pub quiz). The onion rings (£4.50) were nice, but the batter could maybe do with a bit more seasoning for it to truly stand out amongst the rest.
While we were stuffing our faces with this wonderful comfort food, their trademark Tuesday Night quiz was underway. This isn’t like any quiz you’ve done before: the host is hilarious, guiding you through the quirky rounds with expert ease. She keeps control of the rowdy crowd with strict and funny rules (if you shout out, you have to down a disgusting mix made at the bar featuring everything from tequila to tobacco – I got threatened with it twice), which is vital when the audience participates this much.
Some notable rounds were ‘Famous Dicks’ (Piers Morgan was the answer to one, naturally) and a lip sync battle, with the most outrageous performer winning out. The whole quiz is a lot of fun and if you find the usual stuffy questions a bit too boring, you’ll be delighted by this. Part-knowledge based, part-winning points by having fun, this manages to be different without ending up a bit cringe, making it a great experience and one that I'll be coming back to, albeit with a bigger group. Also, there was only two of us in our team and we still managed to come second place, winning a bottle of a wine and an even bigger hangover the next day. I just wanted to brag about that.
Everything about The Old Queen’s Head is fun, from the interior to the food to the quiz. Whether you’re nipping in for after-work drinks, having a chat with one of their incredibly friendly bartenders, or wanting to party on a Friday, the drinks and space is open for you. But if you want to have some serious quiz-related fun on a Tuesday, you have to go to their pub quiz.