How Laura’s cooking cast a spell over Telegraph’s ferocious food critic
ONE of the harshest food critics in Britain has singled out a tiny Leamington restaurant as being one of the best in the country...if not the world!
Matthew Norman of the Daily Telegraph awarded Queans, in Dormer Place, five full stars - the same rating he’s only ever given Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner in Hyde Park and Spanish restaurant Cambio de Tercio in South Kensington.
Queans’ chef and restaurant owner Laura Hamilton, who grew up in Kenilworth, is still in shock.
She’s even wondering whether she managed to cast a spell over the fierce Mr Norman - not least because on fine mornings she likes to gather herbs and edible flowers from the hedgerows to garnish her food.
“And my love of cooking does go back to my childhood when I used to watch my Scottish gran stirring up stews and imagine she was making a witch’s brew,” smiles Laura.
The 48-year-old bought Queans eight years ago - the name is an old Scottish word for girls.
After attending the former Abbey High School in Kenilworth, Laura went to Stratford Catering College and spent more than a decade as head chef at the Grand Union restaurant in Leamington and later ran Robbie’s in Warwick.
Her restaurant only has seats for 30 diners and Laura had no idea that the man tucking in to her pan-fried king prawns and squid cooked in peanut sauce, finished with a pomegranate molasses dressing was the formidable Mr Norman.
He did reveal his identity at the end of the meal but not the five stars he’s only ever given twice before - including to Heston Blumenthal’s establishment, recently described as the ninth best in the world.
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Weather for Leamington
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 25 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 13 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: East