I VISITED a popular gastro-pub which serves Middle Eastern food in Glastonbury.

Queen of Cups is perched conveniently on the corner of Northload Street, and from the fairly standard pub exterior, you might not realise what lies inside.

The co-founder and head chef of the Glasto-pub, Ayesha Kalaji, was recently nominated in the Middle East category for the BIH spotlight awards 2023, after winning last year's award.

The pub itself was also shortlisted for the Estrella Damm Top 100 Gastropubs 2023.

With such a gem located just a few minutes' drive away, I had to check it out, and I was far from disappointed.Somerset County Gazette: The Queen of Cups pub, on Northload Street, Glastonbury.The Queen of Cups pub, on Northload Street, Glastonbury. (Image: NQ Staff)

Stepping inside the pub, you are met with the bar, which serves a great range of draught beers and ales, as well as locally sourced bottled cider in the fridge.

The sound of funky music and the ambient hustle-and-bustle from the kitchen immediately gave me a sense of homeliness and warmth from the venue.

I was greeted straight away by an incredibly friendly staff member, named Carlton, who joked to other guests about his unconventional name.Somerset County Gazette: My seat was right next to the kitchen, adding to the close-knit, welcoming atmosphere of the venue.My seat was right next to the kitchen, adding to the close-knit, welcoming atmosphere of the venue. (Image: NQ Staff)

After being seated, I was offered water, and Carlton took the time to take me through the most popular items on the menu, explaining how sharing the food between you and your friends or family is encouraged.

Despite being completely spoiled for choice with some incredible sounding dishes, I opted for some frena bread (which I now know is a traditional Moroccan flat bread) and the salted cod fish cake.

While I waited for my food to be cooked, I sipped my pint of perfectly-poured Camden Pale Ale, and took in some of the atmosphere. The interior was tastefully decorated, only amplifying the welcoming, laid-back vibe - wooden tables of all shapes and sizes were partnered with quirkily upholstered wooden chairs, and the walls were adorned with interesting pictures and paintings.

Somerset County Gazette: The interior of the pub was tastefully decorated.The interior of the pub was tastefully decorated. (Image: NQ Staff)

A few staff members even went out to pick some flowers to put on display for visitors to the venue.

There was also a very cosy-looking outdoor seating area, which would have been great if I'd visited the pub two weeks ago during the heatwave.

Somerset County Gazette: The Queen of Cups even had a lovely outdoor seating area/ beer garden.The Queen of Cups even had a lovely outdoor seating area/ beer garden. (Image: NQ Staff)

My food arrived swiftly, but not so quickly that I felt rushed in my efforts to tinker with my fantasy football team.

Firstly, I tasted the frena bread, which was extraordinary. I'm nothing of a food critic, but I can definitely appreciate some good grub, and this certainly fit that description. To sum up the bread, it was a perfect concoction of smokey, salty, doughy goodness.Somerset County Gazette: I started off with the frena bread - a type of Moroccan flat bread.I started off with the frena bread - a type of Moroccan flat bread. (Image: NQ Staff)

I then tucked into my fish cake, which stood out to me on the menu as I didn't percieve it as a traditionally Middle Eastern dish. The presentation was phenomenal, as the fish cake was placed atop a plethora of vegetables, including kale, green beans, tomatoes, and what I think was aubergine (it was very tasty regardless of what it was).

Surrounding the veggies was a moat of red yoghurt/sauce. In short, all of the flavours combined for what I can only describe as a mind-blowing experience with every forkful. The saltiness of the cod paired perfectly with the sweetness and spiciness provided by the yoghurt.Somerset County Gazette: The food was presented immaculately.The food was presented immaculately. (Image: NQ Staff)

As something of a picky eater, I was prepared to pick around some of the vegetables, but they were cooked and seasoned to such perfection that I savoured every mouthful - even the tomatoes (yes you're not dreaming, mum).

I wasn't planning on getting dessert, but I was left (mentally, not physically) hungry for more after my main. I ordered an interesting dish which Carlton likened to rice pudding, but better. He was right, as a comforting mixture of floral and citrus flavours paired with soft and crunchy textures once again blew me away. The dessert itself was topped with what I think were actual violets, and a scoop of sensational blood-peach sorbet.Somerset County Gazette: Dessert was just as tasty and enjoyable as the main.Dessert was just as tasty and enjoyable as the main. (Image: NQ Staff)

Leaving the venue, I felt as though I'd just experienced fine-dining for the first time, so I was shocked at how reasonable all the food cost, when presented with the bill.

Anyone in Somerset who wants to taste unique, distinctive, and tasty food at a reasonable price should make the journey to Glastonbury to visit the Queen of Cups. The welcoming atmosphere created by the tasteful interior and exceptionally friendly and helpful staff, along with the unique and expertly crafted food, really sets this place apart from other gastro-pubs.