This week we are headed to the corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Road. An unlikely location for fine dining in Guelph but the regulars of the Queen’s Cafe just might call it Guelph’s best kept secret.
If the thought of a wagyu burger, wild boar burger, double-smoked pork chop, braised beef short ribs, surf and turf, house made demi-glace and creme brulee has you salivating then you need to check this place out. The regular menu is quite compact but the daily specials are what create the buzz here. All from scratch, house made with local ingredients when possible, this my friends, is what I call 'beautiful food.'
Tammy Hsieh and Ron Hill are the owners and operators of this licensed, fine dining establishment set in a casual atmosphere. They opened the cafe in September 2018 and were just hitting their stride when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020. They didn’t miss a beat and quickly pivoted to curbside takeout with their existing menu. Much to their surprise their clients embraced the concept and they plan to continue to offer take out indefinitely.
Hsieh has a background in hospitality, having studied in her native Taiwan and the USA. Hill, the executive chef, completed his training at George Brown College and Niagara College. This is the second endeavour for this Guelph couple but they decided to open in their hometown this time. They especially love the support they receive here from the business community and said they often have other local restaurateurs dine in their establishment.
On the day I visited, the cafe was undergoing renovations for their grand re-opening on Nov. 25. A whole new look with new booths, chairs and new decor is what’s in store for this intimate cafe that seats 36.
A true, community business, the Queen’s Cafe is also taking care of the more vulnerable members of this city as well. In 2019 they served over 200 Thanksgiving dinners to seniors and food insecure members of our community. A complete turkey dinner, with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables was prepared, all from scratch! In 2020, between 200-300 Christmas dinners were served to the same groups.
With the help of Hill’s mother, Margaret Smith, and the Salvation Army, this will become an annual offering. Hsieh says it’s about “giving and receiving” and she also alluded to the fact she and Hill both did not experience a privileged upbringing that this is very important to them.
All in all this little gem is a place for good food and good feelings all around!
And by the way, why is it called the Queen’s Cafe? Well both Elizabeth Street and Victoria Road are both named after queens so it seems fitting that the Queen’s Cafe be at the point where the two streets meet!