I’m delighted about the opening of ‘Queen of Cups’, Glastonbury’s newest restaurant and freehouse. It’s a fun, fresh and female-led approach to dining and drinking in Glastonbury that I’m confident will be very popular.
New Name, New Menu, New Look
Chef Ayesha has moved to Glastonbury from London where she cheffed for six years, to partner with old friend Mary-Liz, owner of Abbot’s Leigh B&B. Their new venture sees them taking on the lease of Hawthorns in Northload Street. Over the past 17 years Simon has made Hawthorns hugely popular with locals and visitors, following his recent retirement, the new team aims to keep the hostelry’s loyal customers happy, while bringing in a new name, new menu and new look.
Before the opening on May 17th, Ayesha was been using me as one of her guinea pigs to sample the new menu (I get all the tough jobs!). She intrigued me with new flavour and ingredient combinations and dishes that I wouldn’t even know how to start replicating at home. I’m so pleased she’s decided to make the move to Glastonbury and excited to see others sampling her cooking. Mary Liz has made a great contribution to the Town in the two years since she moved here, supporting local businesses and making friends, she mixes a mean cocktail too. With these two at the helm, the Queen of Cups is going to be a lot of fun.
They are offering a sharing menu, showing off the best local produce with Middle Eastern and Mediteranean influences. They are passionate about sourcing from local suppliers whenever possible, getting their meat from Stephen’s Butcher’s which is literally around the corner. Middle Eastern Cuisine offers plenty for vegans and vegetarians too – Ayesha likes to add her own twist, like the laverbread in her falafels and the kumquats topping a surprisingly creamy vegan brûléed ‘rice pudding’.
The building dates back to the eighteenth century, which adds a delightful higgledy-piggledy charm, with lots of cosy spaces. Upstairs there are literally skeletons in the cupboard, Ayesha was shocked when they tumbled out when she opened a door in her new accommodation, fortunately they turned out to be Samhain decorations!
For outside dining and drinking there is an attractive walled garden, well behaved dogs are welcome.
I spoke to Mary Liz after their first week of opening, she told me “We really appreciate all the support we’ve had, lots of locals have popped in to say hello. We love that people are enjoying the food and new wine list and relaxing again now restrictions have been lifted. We’re really excited about Summer!”
Liam the Cellar Manager was equally enthusiastic: “It’s a new lease of life for the place, but without taking away the friendly atmosphere that we were known for. I’m loving the direction that it’s going in and the updated menus”.
Conveniently for me, the Queen of Cups opening night (when restrictions on indoor dining were lifted) was the day before my birthday so I booked a table. My family and I enjoyed a fantastic meal and cocktails. I highly recommend you go along and check it out too.
The New Look
The building has had a facelift, with a mural by Jon Minshull on the building’s exterior and new decor and lighting throughout. The walls are hung with artwork from Glastonbury’s Heart of the Tribe gallery.
Their commitment to the environment isn’t just about sourcing locally, but also renewing rather than buying new. Local craftsman Jon has restored the pub’s original oak tables to give them a new lease of life, while Jay has painted the chairs to match the new colour scheme. In the photo Jon is setting light to part of the table to lift out a ring mark on the surface, it’s a surprising trick that works.
Music Nights to Continue
Locals and visitors will be reassured to hear that, once events are allowed again, you’ll still be able to enjoy the music for which the building’s previous incarnation was famed: Tuesday’s open mic nights, Sunday’s Blues Jams and other selected musical events. The Queen of Cups team kept most of the original Beer and Cider selection, while also offering seasonal cocktails and an extended wine list. There’s a great emphasis on highlighting local drinks producers, with Glastonbury wine, gin and cider.
Who’s on the Team?
Queen of Cups kept on the Hawthorn’s team, they told me “They’re fantastic, they’ve got great levels of customer service. The chefs are incredibly talented and hard working. We’re so glad to be working with such dedicated professionals”.
Mary-Liz – Co-founder & all round dynamo is Mary-Elizabeth O’Neill. Originally from New York, Mary-Liz headed to London (via Paris) to study, she met Ayesha and they’ve been firm friends ever since.
After a career in event management, Mary-Elizabeth moved to Glastonbury in 2019, with her chef-partner, George Eason, to reopen the historic Abbots Leigh House as a boutique Bed and Breakfast.
Passionate about wine, travel and good food, Mary-Liz is also obsessed with her pug ‘Butters’ and Yankees baseball.
Ayesha – Head Chef & Co-founder, Ayesha Kalaji creates incredible food. Ayesha studied at SOAS in London then went on to achieve a Diploma in Food and Wine at Leiths School of Food and Wine and is passionate about wine.
Ayesha worked at The Palomar and Bubala in London and Sosban and the Old Butchers on Wales. The last restaurant she worked at before her move to Somerset, was voted second best vegetarian restaurant in the UK. Her cuisine pairs local seasonal ingredients with a contemporary take on Middle Eastern flavours. Away from the kitchen, Ayesha’s life must-haves are eyeliner and G&Ts.
The crew are not planning to offer accommodation for the time being, but Mary-Liz runs the very popular B&B Abbot’s Leigh just a few minutes walk away in Magdalene Street.
Find out more
Queen of Cups are currently offering dinner service from 5.30 to 10pm every evening except Tuesdays and Sundays. They are open for drinks from 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays and will post updated hours on social media as Summer progresses.
You’ll find them at 10 Northload Street, Glastonbury BA6 9JJ, it’s very convenient for parking as it’s round the corner from St John’s Car Park. Wheelchair users can be accommodated with advanced booking.
You can phone them on 01458 831255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can book via the website http://queenofcups.co.uk/
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