Queen Mother Cafe
208 Queen Street West
(west of University Ave)
416 598 4719
Upon entering this popular downtown eatery you may wonder what connection it has with Laos. The answer is its chef – Noy Phongnanouvong. Known locally, since its opening in 1978, as the "Queen Mum" it is named after the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, mother of Queen Elizabeth II.
There are many tempting items on the lunch menu, but we try to sample the most Laotian of the lot.
For a starter we share the vegetarian nam dip - soft rice paper rolls filled with tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrot, bell peppers, fresh mint and coriander, served cold with sweet and spicy peanut sauce, three pieces for $7.25 [pictured here]. Our main courses are: bah me hang - fresh thin egg noodles stir fried with bean sprouts, onions, celery, chopped peanuts, sautéed shrimp and sliced chicken in a spicy lime coriander sauce, topped with green onions, we chose the medium spiced version, $10.95; curry vegetable roti stuffed with sweet potatoes, carrots, chickpeas and tofu in a spicy curry sauce, wrapped in an Indian dahl roti, served with a baby greens salad, $11.50; and grilled chicken sandwich - chicken breast on a toasted baguette with roasted red peppers, baby arugula, sun dried tomato pesto and asiago cheese, $10.95 (with half salad/half yukon gold fries on the side $1.50 extra).
Service was brisk and friendly. We were seated promptly and glasses of water and menus appeared quickly.
The decor is more about old Toronto than the orient. Fifties rock and roll is being piped in. At the entrance, there's an interesting display of objects found in the walls during renovations that date from the time when the building housed a bakery. A sign advertises eclairs 3 for 10 cents.
Overall a good experience, though more Laotian items, including a vegetarian main dish on the lunch menu would make it more enticing.
Rating: Ambiance (3)
Food Presentation (3)
Food Quality (3)
Value for Money (3)