Form vs. Function at Royal, Watertown

13 Mar

Last weekend was the long awaited soft opening of Royal in Watertown. (The restaurant had been slated to open 2 months ago but hit a few snags.) When we found out that Royal had opened, my husband and I hurried over there to experience the New American/French cuisine for ourselves.

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The restaurant itself nails the loungey vibe and vintage-meets rustic look, with gold-framed mirrors adorning deep red walls and blackboards hanging from the ceiling near the entrance . 

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Royal is trying to be a lot of things – a dining room but also a coffee shop, given this setup for sugar and milk, near a rack of to-go coffee cups.DSC02078

The coffee was terrific both in taste and in price – a bottomless cup for $1 with purchase of an entree. It came in nice large mugs, but milk and sugar were delivered in small espresso cups. It was impossible to pour milk into my coffee without spilling much of it on the rather dusty tablecloth.

Royal Watertown soft openingIt’s clear that form trumped function in Royal’s choice of dinnerware.  Our water glasses were large squarish things that seemed more suited to being table centerpieces – something you might put a floating candle in. Though the concave edges cradled my lips as I sipped, the container itself was awkward to hold.

On the other hand, the food is delicious and creative, and artistically presented. Here’s the amazing house boursin and wild mushroom omelette with a chive hollandaise, potatoes, heirloom tomato salad, and arugula.  DSC02089

Still, aesthetics comes first. All entrees, like my ham and Gruyere crepe below, came beautifully arranged on a rectangular “platter”. I use quotation marks because I’m not quite sure what to call it. It was a heavy black thing with rough and slightly sharp edges, and a textured surface. The platters did show off the food as works of art – like paintings, but they were awkward for the servers to carry.

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I was actually having trouble finishing my meal – partially because it was filling, but also because I was getting worn out from the exertion required to cut off each bite – the butter knife I had was not sharp enough to cut through the crispy crepe and the uneven surface of the platter didn’t help. That was a little too much exercise for me at brunch time. My husband joked that it was as if we were eating gourmet food off of a sidewalk.

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The Royal pancakes had a lot going on – too much for my husband’s taste – he wouldn’t get them again. But I thought that the combination of salty of the crispy pork belly and the sweet candied walnuts and syrup actually worked. Royal pancakes

Right now, Royal doesn’t look like much on the outside. But the inside holds a lot of promise. There are still some kinks to be worked out – the placement of the tables could be improved for example, and the dinnerware tries too hard to be trendy. However, the food is definitely creative and tasty. Royal is definitely a much-welcome addition to Watertown!DSC02095

Info: Royal, 45 Lexington Street, Watertown, MA 02472 USA
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