Perfect ten for Leamington restaurant

By IH 17/05 Updated: 18/05 07:20

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Buy photos » Taste of success - Queans chef and owner Laura Hamilton. 20.012.031.leam.jm1

NOMA in Copenhagen, Mugaritz in San Sebastian , D.O.M in Sao Paulo, Per Se in New York, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London.

All featured in the recently published list of the world's best restaurants, and although Leamington is not yet on the world culinary map, it soon could be.

Queans Restaurant, tucked away in a basement in Dormer Place, has just received a ten out of ten review from respected Daily Telegraph restaurant critic Matthew Norman. It is only the third time he has dished out a top score, and he did not do so lightly.

Norman wrote: "Never have I been so wracked over a score, struggling to decide if it would be insane to rank Queans alongside Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner, recently unveiled as the world’s ninth best restaurant, with only my third ever maximum on this page.

"Since the mark is intended more than anything to reflect the pleasure a meal gave and the urge to return it induced, my conclusion was that it would be crazy to give it anything less."

Norman and his cousin enjoyed a meal including dishes such as pan fried king prawns and squid cooked in a spicy peanut sauce with a pomegranate molasses dressing; honey-glazed pan-fried duck breast with a rhubarb and ginger compote; and white chocolate and peach schnapps cheesecake.

He found himself at Queans - a Scottish term for girl, and more fruitily in Shakespearean lingo a whore - after an internet search for a Midlands restaurant never previously reviewed, and on his selection concluded: "Somehow, we had stumbled upon one of the great restaurants of Britain."

The £31 price of the three course set menu he described as "a steal for food of this quality".

Norman even surprised himself as he departed on "a moment of uniqueness" when he found himself hugging a chef - in this case head chef and also Queans owner Laura Hamilton.

The 46 year-old, who amazingly runs the kitchen single-handed, was gobsmacked when she read the review.

"I cried when I read it," she told The Observer. "I did not know he was a reviewer until the end of the evening when he told me I might need another phone line.

"Since the review appeared (last Saturday) the phones haven't stopped ringing. We're fully booked this week, and for the next four Saturdays."

Laura has built her success on a winning combination of quality food and customer service with a smile, something she has no intention of changing.

"Matthew Norman understood our whole ethos. I'm not interested in pursuing Michelin stars and becoming something I'm not. Me and my team (Laura employs one full-time member of staff, and other part-time waiting staff) are like a family and we enjoy ourselves.

"We like to think of our customers as enjoying a dinner party, only we are cooking and serving it for them."

Laura grew up in Kenilworth and started her culinary career at Stratford Catering College, moving on to become head chef at the Grand Union in Leamington, and later running Robbie’s in Warwick.

She opened Queans in 2005, and the following year scooped both the Best Restaurant Award and Excellence in Quality and Customer Service titles in the prestigious annual Coventry and Warwickshire Food and Drink Awards.

To make a booking call Queans on 01926 315522. Visit www.queans-restaurant.co.uk for further details.

Visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/9259827/Queans-Leamington-Spa-restaurant-review.html

to read Matthew Norman's full review.

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