Monday, April 28, 2014

The Curry Queen - Substance over style.

After a disappointing visit to Tayyabs the other night we decided to come back to Cambridge and have a more traditional meal at the Curry Queen, as part of our next step in the tour of Mill Road.

The Curry Queen for me has always delivered a consistent level of service for many years. I cannot ever recall having a bad meal here. As we all know though, restaurants go through good and bad times, so lets see if its managed to keep up the same level of consistency since the last time I was here. 

From the outside the Curry Queen looks very basic and very traditional. No thrills here. No neon signs, bright colours or even a fresh lick of paint, like its rival across the road (Golden Curry and Prana).


That being said, the Curry Queen has never really been about flashy gimmicks, its all about substance here. All that mattered to me was the decent hygiene rating on the front of the door!

When we came in we were greeted by two casually dressed men who were incredibly warm and welcoming. They weren't dressed up like you'd normally expect in an Indian restaurant but were chatty and friendly. They opened up our chairs and put napkins on our laps. You may find this kind of thing is to be expected in an Indian establishment but you would be incredibly surprised how often this isn't done now days. 

We were pleased to see that the menu was reasonably priced. 
We were even more pleased to see that beers were not £6 for a large bottle like at its next door neighbour - Prana.
They have a very basic yet well laid out menu which was easy to navigate through.


We ordered some poppadoms while we decided what we wanted to order.
While we waited we had a look around. 
I hadn't been to the Curry Queen in years and had forgotten what it looked like on the inside. I had peered through the window in the past to see how it was getting on and could only really see plain white walls, so I wasn't expecting too much.
The place looks much better once you actually get in. They have a charming little bar in the corner and a chandelier on the ceiling. It looks very nice, clean and very well presented. There was also some basic art work on the walls. A very well kept traditional Indian restaurant overall. 

When our poppadoms arrived we were presented with the four main sauces in a steel container. A lot of places now go for the white china pots which look more stylish, but what I love about the old way of using the metal containers is that they spin around, making it easier to share. Not only that but they can hold much more and end up making it less messy.
How many times have you run out of mango chutney or onion salad when eating poppadoms with white china pots?  If you are anything like me, lots! 

Again, substance over style.


Curry Queens metal containers. 

White china pots. 

They provided us with the usual onion salad, lime pickle, mango chutney and yogurt. Each one was simply delicious. I really couldn't fault any of them. The lime pickle was particularly nice. The poppadoms were very good too. I could have sat there all day eating them, in fact, one day, I think I might just try that. 

When we had finished they took our sauces away and took our order. We both ordered our usual. I had the chicken tikka vindaloo, rice and saag aloo. Sonya ordered a vegetable madras and rice. 
While we waited for our food we sat by the window and people watched. Again, if you have read my review of Golden Curry then you'd know one of my favourite things about dining on Mill Road is being able to people watch. 


Our food came out in good time. The food was well presented and the portions looked great. The rice was put on my plate as an upside down bowl. As the waiter lifted it off my plate the rice was revealed in a bowl shape which gradually expanded. The rice was a little (and I mean only a very little) too moist but nothing which interrupted the integrity of the meal. 




My vindaloo was delicious. The heat was a little mild (but again, only a little), but the sauce and texture was great. I would say the chicken was a little disappointing, especially since I ordered chicken tikka but otherwise it was spot on. 
The saag aloo was well done and very nice also. No problems with the potatoes and the texture and taste of the spinach was perfect.

By the time I was finished I knew id had a good curry. It tasted lovely, the flavours were all there and I was left with a mild burning in my mouth. Just how a good vindaloo should be. Sonya was very happy with her meal too. No complaints all around. There was even enough left over for another meal later on. So that was dinner sorted too!

We were very pleased to be given a real hot towel after our meal.
They were similar to the flannels you get at home and were served piping hot. None of those cheap microwaved wet wipes here.
This is something that I always love after a good curry.
So many places scrimp out on the hot towels now days and for me is always the difference between a restaurant which aims for quality.
Curry Queen does just that. 

We were given a chocolate after our meal, but no shots or mints. The bill came to about standard price and we were incredibly happy to pay it. We ended up tipping the staff, which isn't something I always do. but they were incredibly warm, friendly and professional. Despite not being dressed as you'd expect.

I was reminded as to why this place is so popular with the locals. Currently the Curry Queen is, in my opinion, way ahead of its other rivals, the Golden Curry and Prana. It just gets everything right. 

If you just want to come for a friendly warm experience and have a decent curry, with a decent atmosphere, for a decent price, with all the traditional Indian restaurant traditions, then Curry Queen is the only answer on Mill Road so far.

The last Indian on our Mill Road tour is the Kohinoor. Its going to really need to provide something special to beat the Curry Queen in pursuit for no1 spot of Mill Road! Though, if you ask me, if any restaurant can do it, its the Kohinoor. Watch this space.

The Curry Queen truly is a restaurant of substance over flashy gimmicks and style. 

4/5 - (itching to push to 4.5)