The queen of the 70s

Consistent delivery

The queen of the 70s

It is the consistency that determines the quality of a restaurant rather than the innovations or experiments it carries out. In this light, standing tall since 1974 is ‘Queen’s’, an iconic restaurant in Church Street.

One of the first few hotels in the City to cater to the North Indian palate, ‘Queen’s’ was started by Anil Choda and his wife Soneelam, with a small number of dishes but an excessive amount of love.

The four-decade-old story started when Soneelam’s home-cooked Punjabi food was a hit among her neighbours. They egged her on to start a restaurant. Soon, she and her husband pursued the idea and started ‘Queen’s’. “It did very well during that time,” she recalls. “We opened with a tandoor and our tandoori ‘rotis’ and curries were a big hit. Later on, we added the famous ‘phulkas’. Our items are not very high on ‘masalas’ and all the dishes are home-cooked and made separately. We don’t have the usual gravies that are used as a base for every other item, rather we let the individual vegetable shine in each dish. By and by, we realised that people liked our simple food. They would come to us saying that they were longing for it.”

The soft ‘paneer chilly’ and the creamy ‘malai kulfi’ and ‘kheer’ are some of the popular dishes that people enjoy here. While for lunch, they generally love digging into the North Indian platter comprising ‘makki ki roti’ and ‘sarson ka saag’. Generations come in and enjoy a quick lunch or dinner at ‘Queen’s’ and looking at a number of old customers everyday, Soneelam feels thankful that the fruits of her labour are being savoured by many. Designed by her son, an architect, ‘Queen’s’ has undergone a few renovations since its inception. The artful interiors and intricate carving inside a space which once resembled a tiny cave take one to an exotic Arabian setting.

 However, the menu has not undergone any change at all as Soneelam says that everytime they try to add new items, customers come back the next day asking for the ‘Queen’s’ highlights. “But we want to change the menu now as we are so fed up,” she laughs. The restaurant got this name as a priest had told them that naming their venture with ‘Q’ would prove lucky for them and pressed for time, they couldn’t think of any other name apart from ‘Queen’s’. But quite rightly, now many people point to Soneelam as the queen of the restaurant who is running the place well.

An old Bengalurean, she reminisces about the charm of the City fondly. “Church Street was empty when we started. There were so many bungalows on the left side of the road and very few upgraded buildings. It is so overcrowded now that people call us and ask us where to park as there is no parking space near ‘Queen’s’. We do miss our old city but change is always good. Overall, I’m glad that there are many restaurants coming up and the City is growing.”

As the couple are growing older and their children are in different fields, they only hope to pass on what they created to them and take the legacy of a rich well-lived story forward.

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