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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Roy Get's an A, then Flunks Out


I first dined at Roy's when I was in Hawaii.  The food was upscale yet unpretentious, fresh and inventive, and I've never been disappointed.  So when my wife asked me where I wanted to go to dinner for my birthday, without hesitation I said "Roy's". 

We arrived around 730 on a weeknight and the place was popping.  Roy's can get a bit noisy but it's not so noisy that you can't hear each other at the table.  It was a special occasion so let's start with a special cocktail.

The pinky drink in front is the 1988, a tribute to the date they opened their first restaurant in Honolulu.  It's made with ABSOLUT Ruby Red Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur & Patrón Citrónge Liqueur, a bit sweet but the perfect vacation drink.  The drink in the back is the Hawaiian martini made with  Maui pineapples drenched in SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanil Vodka & Malibu Coconut Rum.  It's sort of like a high octane pina colada, very tasty.   To go with the drinks they brough a complimentary bowl of edemame dusted with spices, nice touch.

We had a very disappointing salad the other night at Bleu Boheme.  A boring salad reminds me of being a kid and being told to eat it because it's good for me and dammit, if I don't eat it I don't get the good stuff.  So I wasn't that excited to get a salad tonight but my wife wanted one so we split the salad with rock shrimp on it.

Wow!  This is proof that you can make a salad taste as good as an entree.  This was without a doubt one of the best tasting salads I've had in a long, long time.  In fact, remember that crazy expensive dinner at La Valencia's Sky Room I wrote about?  This salad was better.  And bigger.  The split salad was still a good size and the shrimp, mmmm, A+.  

If you're a Local Wally fan, you know I love ribs and I've said in the past that Roy's Szechwan Spicy Grilled Ribs are some of the best ribs I've ever had.  I know, don't roll your eyes!  I've had ribs all over the US and I'm an amateur ribmaster myself and these ribs are incredible.  I usually order them as an entree (not on the menu but if you ask they will do it) but decided to go with the appetizer tonight.  Let's see them.

OMG, these ribs are tasty!  Glazed in a sticky Mongolian sauce, the subtle smoke comes through and the sauce is not too spicy but just enough to balance the sweetness.  I love these ribs, A++.

The last time I was here I had one of the most incredible steaks so decided to go for it again.  This is always a mistake as there's nothing better than the first time, but the ribs have been so consistent that the steak seemed like a good bet.  Here it comes!

What?  No bone?  Wait, this isn't the same killer steak I had before!  That's right, I learned a valuable lesson here.  Read the entire description of the entree before ordering.  That's good advice.  Because the steak I had before was super delicious and fatty goodness.  This boned out ribeye was dense and lean and lacking flavor.  I had to ask for salt!  And btw, I sure wish restaurants would bring kosher salt and cracked pepper instead of a crummy salt and pepper shaker that looks like it was stolen from Denny's.

The sauce was OK, but nowhere near as flavorful as the ribs, and the fries were as soggy as the ones I used to get from the junior high school cafeteria.  These were bad fries that had more in common with frozen "cooked in the oven" fries than something you just paid $30 for.  Oh Roy, I love you but I have to give this dish a C.  

 My wife ordered the scallops and we were both surprised when the waitress asked how she would like them cooked.  We have seen enough Food TV to know that the only right answer is "have the chef prepare them the way he thinks they should be cooked".  Unfortunately for my wife, the chef must have taken a break and put the sushi chef in charge because the scallops were served seared and raw inside.  I mean it, raw inside.  

Now I might not know everything about food so perhaps this IS the right way to cook them, but raw scallops are not very tasty.  The texture is weird, the flavor strange, and this dish gets another bad score - D.  I know that seems harsh, but it was nearly inedible.  We took the leftover scallops home and I cut them in half and yes indeed, they were raw. I seared them again and they were delicious!  Sigh...

But in the end Roy's comes through with dessert.  I love free dessert on my birthday!  In fact, I've been sort of fuming that The Sky Room didn't do anything special for us when they knew it was our 30th wedding anniversary, especially since we dropped $350 there for dinner.  So Roy, thanks for the nice free dessert.

And of course, you cannot go to Roy's without getting the molten lava cake, often imitated but no one does it better than Roy's.

So what's the deal?  Roy's report card is looking like the straight A kid who discovered drugs in his Senior year. How do you get an A+ for salad, and A++ for appetizer, then drop to a C and D for the entrees?  As they say on Top Chef, all chefs have bad nights so maybe, hopefully, this was the deal with Roy's.  I would go back, but next time I would stick to the tried and true (ribs, ribs, ribs!) or the $35 prix fixe dinner (hard to get too mad over an app, an entree, a dessert for $35).  Let's keep a cautious eye on Roy's and hope it returns to form soon. 


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