The Royale’s simplicity is a plus on groggy Sunday morningsWhen you’re recovering from the night before, sometimes you need food with a bit of grease, nothing too fancy, just something substantial – and maybe even a bloody mary to get you back in the saddle. The Royale’s “Hair of the Dog” Sunday brunch has you covered.
For starters, you won’t be overwhelmed with too many decisions. There are just four entrée selections, a half-dozen sides and a handful of beverages. Choose one of each and plunk down your $12. You’ll be feeling fine in no time.
Located just south of Tower Grove Park, The Royale is a favorite for fresh-squeezed and -pressed juices. Brunch selections include orange juice (with or without vodka) or the Tooti-Fruity, grapefruit and orange juice with orange-flavored vodka. Bloody marys are thick, tangy with generous amounts of horseradish, Worcestershire, pepper and three olives. Visit the “fixins bar” and tailor the taste to your liking. From garnishes like pickled okra, green beans, bamboo shoots and ginger (plus at least a dozen more that you’d find at Jay’s International Foods over on South Grand) to endless varieties of hot sauce, including jalapeño-wasabi, you could go crazy creating all kinds of concoctions.
The menu says that “many swear by the restorative power” of migas, a Tex-Mex version of an open-faced omelet. Literally translated as “crumbs,” migas makes use of leftover tortillas or bread. In The Royale’s version, eggs are scrambled with chunks of tomato and topped with fried tortilla strips for a nice crunch. Fresh pico de gallo adds a bit of heat from the peppers and is mellowed by melted Monterey Jack cheese; add chorizo for a heartier dish. On one visit, the migas filled the plate, on another, it was folded like an omelet and was pretty skimpy. This would go well with a side of black beans, but the six sides offered include roasted rosemary potatoes, fresh fruit salad, cottage cheese and fruit, a vegan sausage, scrambled eggs or two strips of bacon.
If you’re craving something sweet, french toast is made from four thick slices of brioche with nutmeg and cinnamon and topped with real maple syrup. I was less impressed with the Beer Goggles – two eggs fried within the center of sliced wheat bread. The eggs were completely cooked, which defeated the purpose of dipping the cutout toasted rounds into the yolks. When I asked to have them remade, the kitchen was accommodating, but it was still rather boring, even though the taste took me back to my childhood.
A better choice was the falafel latkes, which were bursting with flavors: ground chickpeas mixed with onion, spices, sesame seeds and shredded potatoes. Fried like potato pancakes till they’re crisp on the outside, they’re served with chunky applesauce and creamy dill-tahini sauce, adding sweetness and coolness.
If a big hunk of beef is what you need, order the half-pound Kobe-style Wagyu beef burger (the same breed, but raised to exacting standards in Australia rather than Japan). Fresh salads and individual pizzas are also available. We ordered spinach-artichoke dip served with tricolor tortilla chips to accompany another round of drinks, but I was disappointed in the lack of flavor.
I’ve visited The Royale on numerous occasions – brunch, drinks and dinner – and generally the service isn’t the swiftest. The servers are laid-back and friendly; the key is not to be in a rush. Pick a paper and slide into a booth or grab a table on the back patio (relatively insulated from the noise on Kingshighway) and relax with a beverage. The drink menu itself makes for a good read: Each city ward has a specially named drink. On Sundays, the Subcontinental is $5; a mix of cucumber juice, Bombay Sapphire gin, lime juice, sugar and Cointreau, it’s one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve ever tried. The color alone, a lush vibrant green, feels like a big shady tree; a sip tastes like summer.
Great tunes help create a comfortable, loungy vibe, which makes it easy to spend a Sunday afternoon at The Royale, whether you’re recovering from the night before or just in the mood to get your groove on.
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