Restaurant review, The Wenham Queen, Great Wenham: It’s homemade curries at this family-run business

Tikka masala. Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Tikka masala. Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

We sampled dinner at this country pub close to Capel St Mary.

I’ve been meaning to eat at this place for a while now, and the opportunity presented itself when, en route back from the Netherlands via hours of torturous M25 traffic, we decided to stop in for a hassle-free dinner on the way home.

The Queen prides itself on its homemade curries (pub classics are available too) all made from scratch by Patsy, who runs the pub with her husband – obviously then we had to oblige and try a few.

Handily they’re rated by heat on the blackboard at the bar – note the Queen’s Stinger, marked up as a 10/10. Hubby looked longingly at that one, but as I have to share a bed with him, it was vetoed!

We started with poppadoms, which were nice enough, served with a tart mango chutney. But I couldn’t help but feel envious of the table beside us who had huge globes of onion bhaji – probably the biggest I’ve ever seen.


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My son and husband love a korma and so chose bowls at the milder end of the scale – a Malai wali murghi (chicken cooked with yoghurt and spices) and a badami (like a korma but made with almonds and no coconut).

I’m afraid we were quite underwhelmed by both, which were watery not in texture but in flavour. There just wasn’t enough depth. Even the mildest of curries should have complex layers, built from a foundation of golden fried onions, with spices added in the correct order to release their aromatics. The onions in all the dishes we tried were translucent so none of the curries could really reach its full potential.

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Badami is usually sweet and creamy, made with freshly ground, whole blanched almonds and, correct me if I’m wrong, I couldn’t help but feel the ones here were ready ground as that essential flavour wasn’t there.

The chicken tikka masala, though, was delicious, balancing spice, sweetness and tomato acidity. It was scooped onto everyone else’s plates with aplomb. That’s when we realised we hadn’t ordered enough rice – I’d recommend one portion each, not two between four.

My balti chicken in chilli and coconut was a kick up the bum after a long, tedious journey, rating 7/10 for heat and it was nice, but again, those onions needed browning, which would have taken the flavour to the next level.

I do have to say, the amount of chicken in each bowl was generous, and it was good quality too – not that rubbery, flabby stuff you often find in Indian takeaways.

As well as a garlic naan (a bit sorry looking and dry but tasty enough) we chose two side dishes. Daal is something I’ve cooked in many incantations for years at home. It was good to see a variety of lentils used in The Queen’s version, but it was lacking in seasoning and flavour and the predominant flavour was of boiled lentil.

But the creamy bowl of almonds, peanuts and cashews in a coconut sauce was very very tasty indeed and I think I might just have eaten the whole thing to myself.

Drinks

There’s a great selection- it’s a proper beer drinker’s pub. We saw lots of local ales at the pumps including Greene King’s East Coast IPA, which is irresistible to my husband. I was also pleasantly surprised to see bottled Belgian beers in the fridge too, including kriek, which is my favourite (I love a sour beer). I can’t say it’s the best pairing with curry, but it slips down a treat.

Service

Pleasant enough, but the star really was Patsy who was ever so warm and all-round lovely and chatty.

Ambiance

The pub itself is quaint but a little rough around the edges décor wise – the carpets could do with replacing and some of the paintwork needs touching up. But once it filled up with diners there was a jolly atmosphere.

Parking

There’s a car park to the rear of the pub.

Accessibility

It was pretty much all on one level, but wheelchair users would struggle to get in the back door and should use the front entrance.

Price

Four curries, a naan bread, two portions of rice, two side dishes and poppadoms came to £65.

Highlight

The nut side dish. It was very tasty, protein packed and filling. With a bit of rice that would be a satisfying veggie main course.

Summary

I really wanted to enjoy all the food here as it’s a small family-run business and they clearly put their heart and soul into it, but for me, half the dishes didn’t hit the mark flavour-wise. I couldn’t help feeling I’d rather they did less options and cooked them really really well. Just cooking out the onions and spices better would have made all the difference.

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