A Quaint And Charming Cafe

Jo McGarry
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Friday - September 23, 2005
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Queen’s Collection is part cafe, part gift shop, part wedding planner and part tea shop
Queen’s Collection is part cafe, part gift shop,
part wedding planner and part tea shop

This one’s for the ladies. I don’t mean to suggest that some men won’t find Queen’s Collection charming, but if my husband was served one of the delicate, tofu/salmon burger sandwiches for lunch, or offered a cup of peach tea, he’d be in the McDonald’s across the street before you could say “a double cheeseburger and Coke, please.”

And just the sight of the delicate china cups, the small seats, dainty bar and wedding dress-clad mannequin in the window is enough, I’m guessing, to encourage most guys to pass this charming little restaurant by.

That’s fine. More room for the rest of us.

It’s not that Queen’s Collection (or Café Boutique Bridals as they sometimes call themselves) is great; it’s the quirkiness that makes it so attractive.

Start with the parking. Walk to the corner of Richards and Queen streets, if you can, to avoid what has to be the most time-consuming parking procedure in Honolulu. Drive into the lot just past the intersection of Queen Street and you’ll be stopped as your car is “inspected” by a parking official. He then fills out a variety of little forms, prints something on an antiquated machine, asks you where you’re going, hands you a ticket with a note clipped to it and assigns you a parking stall. I was No. 541. Right on the roof. Not much room up there for cars, but a nice view of the downtown area if you have time to look.

Down five floors and out again onto Richards Street you’ll find the café.

It’s part gift shop (with a curious assemblage of teacups, mismatched saucers, prints and beaded slippers for sale,) part wedding planner (this, I hope, is the mainstay of the business) and part tea shop. Bright and charmingly disconnected, the café has a small bar, a comfortable couch and several tables for four.

The menu offers a couple of light items for breakfast and some delicious sandwiches for lunch. Toasted bread is filled with lemon roasted herb chicken, or tofu with spicy eggplant or the aforementioned salmon tofu burger and then cut into delicate quarters.

There’s a very tasty vegetable soup - an excellent clear broth with fresh vegetables and a hard-boiled egg served in a teacup ( see, I said it was quirky).

There’s a beef curry of the type that I don’t particularly like - but there’s nothing wrong with it, and there are a couple of noodle dishes, a variety of very nice drinks and desserts.

Until recently, the business was run by three fastidious (so I’m told) Japanese ladies, but in recent weeks it has been taken over by new owners, who seem to be keeping the menu items more or less the same.

It’s not going to win any prizes for the fastest lunch service around, but if you’re looking for a downtown escape, a place to chat with friends over a cup of hot tea and a sandwich, or you just want to get cozy on the couch with a book and watch the world rush by, then Queen’s Collection is a charming and refreshingly different spot to hang out.

Queen’s Collection (Café Bridal Boutique) 333 Queen St. Honolulu 531-5592

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