Should we lunch before or after visiting Eat or Heat’s Great East End Art Market?

We decided an early lunch would run the risk of not making it to the Art Market or making inebriated extravagant purchases.

We couldn’t remember the exact name of our chosen pub: was it the Queen’s Head or Arms? We referred to it as the Queen’s Body Part. 

Having seen on a past occasion how popular this gastro pub in Walthamstow Village has become, my decision to book was a good one, as by 1.30pm the only two vacant tables were reserved.

The wine list was extensive in variety and price (£16.50 to £68) with those at the lower end being available by glass or carafe.

Rather than choosing by grape or year, our Chenin Blanc was selected because two of us had been to Stellenbosch with the other having had a pen friend from the wine region for more than 30 years. 

I didn’t detect the ‘explosively refreshing, pineapple, melon and guava’ but it went down well (and quickly).

Lunch was a female affair and with delicious girlie gossip to share, menus were put aside.

We were asked if we were ready twice and within minutes of each other by two different girls. To avoid a third interruption, we ordered from the Saturday lunch menu which we all agreed provided great choice. 

Chatting continued over rustic brown bread and butter until we realised we’d been waiting over 35 minutes for three salads.

Food arrived in the nick of time.

Miss Red was virtuous with a healthy, simple watermelon and feta salad tossed in an oil and mint dressing with pumpkin seeds providing crunch. It was declared more filling than it looked and good value at £7.50.

Cold, poached salmon (£9.50) was served on spinach leaves with sun-dried tomatoes. Miss Blonde pronounced it ‘very delicious’ but couldn’t describe what the salmon had been marinated or cooked in. We’re going to have to train her to be more discerning.

Rare roast beef salad was the most expensive dish at £12.50. Finely sliced, beautifully pink beef covered the plate which was topped with peppery rocket, slivers of parmesan and warm artichokes - ideal for those who can’t bear the thought of eating raw meat in beef carpaccio. 

Two check backs within a couple of minutes of each other didn’t spoil our delight with the food and three totally clean plates said it all. 

Dessert menus generated a discussion on what we would have had (sticky toffee pudding, chocolate tart, cheese and biscuits) but despite being asked twice, we resisted. 

Instead we took Art Market cakes back for afternoon tea in our garden where we summed up lunch as: great food, good prices, lovely, friendly atmosphere, but please sort out the irritating duplicate service.

Queens’s Arms, 42 Orford Road, Walthamstow -