I had lunch at the Royal on 8-11-2017. The food was awesome but Chef Cable was by far the highlight!
The Royal is an all day restaurant located in LeDroit park that serves great specialty coffee drinks by day and cocktails by night. Since I was there for lunch there were people on laptops scattered about. Apparently, though, at 5pm the wifi turns off and the vibe changes. They even serve a late night tamale menu!
Above is the view of the of coffee bar from the entrance.
And this is the view of that same space but from upper seating area looking back towards the front door.
One special element at The Royal is the shaved ice machine from Guatemala. The owner Paul Carlson grew up in Latin America and had a fondness for them from his youth. Apparently he bought this one himself and flew it back to the US to use in the restaurant.
Summer heat (cold brew, vanilla cream, granola, shaved ice). I had to try this because of the shaved ice and man was it good! It was basically dessert: whipped cream, granola with raisins, and chocolate sauce drizzle.
Summer Salad (house queso fresco, compressed melon, calabrian chile, baby heirloom tomatoes, speck ham, puffed grain). Not only was this absolutely gorgeous but totally delicious as well! There was this spicy red pepper, vinegar emulsion at the bottom that was out of this world. The crunch of the puffed grain was a great contrast in texture to the softer elements too. I later learned that Chef Cable loves vinegar just as much as me and it’s so wonderfully apparent in his food (but still well-balanced!).
Grilled Avocado (crispy red quinoa, lentils, house vinaigrette, pickled red onion). Oh man was this good. There was mustard in the lentils that along with the pickled onions provided the perfect tang to counteract the more subtle flavor of the avocado. Once again the crispiness of the quinoa was the perfect foil for the softer textures in the dish.
Beef Arepa (avocado, cheese, lime). I really loved the spicy, vinegary sauce that came on the side and the pickled cabbage in the sandwich itself.
Pork Empanadas. These weren’t super exciting flavor-wise but the crunch of the dough was really nice and again the sauce was excellent.
Masa Gnocchi (oxtail, corn veloute, grilled corn, herbs). OMG this was amazing–the best dish of the meal!! The richness and depth of the flavor was so unexpected and delicious. It was cheesy and smokey. The oxtail gave it a savoriness and the the corn a nice crunch. Turns out the gnocchi are made from the same corn flour as the arepas so they’re actually gluten free!
Thank you Chef Cable!! What a nice, nice, nice guy–so friendly and down to earth. We talked for a while about restaurants, cooking, his path to being a chef. He’s a great guy, doing great things, and I’m so excited to watch his journey in DC!!