2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, FL 34239, (941) 952-0109
Cuisine: “Hawaiian Fusion” (local ingredients, Hawaiian hospitality, European sauces, Asian spices)
Price Rating: $25+ per entree
Review Date: March 19, 2012
Review Tip: More of a visual person or don’t have much time? Skip to the bottom for a quick video with all the pics!
I think I set a world-record for gaining 5 pounds in 1.5 hours last night. On an unrelated note, I’m not eating today.
Tamas and I were invited by some dear friends of ours, Eszti and Aaron, to check out Roy’s Restaurant for a Monday special they offer. Eszti (Hungarian name; it’s pronounced [ESS-TEE]) knows Tamas through the Hungarian Connection here in Florida (they’re EVERYWHERE) and Aaron is her lovely American husband. I had never been to Roy’s before, and always wanted to try it, and I’m so glad we did.
Roy’s Restaurant is an upscale chain restaurant with 31 locations all around the US, Japan and Guam. They offer a unique take on cuisine, merging a lot of different stuff in one place. When you arrive, you’re greeted by several people with a friendly “Aloha!” and the flavors you will experience have roots locally along with Asian spices and European sauces. It truly is a “fusion” type place. On Monday nights, they offer a “prix fixe” (fixed price) meal that lets you choose one of each for $36.95 per person:
- Appetizer or salad or soup
When Tamas told me about this and was excited, in my head I was screaming $36.95??! That’s a deal?? But I calmed myself and truly considered the offer. When we went, I realized that it really is a deal for what you get, considering factors like quality and ambiance, and I’m glad I let myself check it out. For the sake of journalism.
We arrived and skipped the valet parking. I love quantifying actions like that because the 2 minute walk over from the further parking lot saved us like $5.00. So then I’m like Awww Yeah, we just walked a half a block for $150/hr. We rock.… Sorry, I digress.
So we were greeted by some lovely staff members who opened the door for us and said Aloha! We were brought to our table where Eszti and Aaron were sitting and did our greetings and sat down. The hostess placed the napkins in our laps and pushed our chairs in for us. I haven’t been to a place like this in a long time (read: broke) so it felt nice to have this level of service. The decor is really nice and upscale, with room-darkening shutters and a cool, open kitchen.
We were given a walk through of the menu by our waiter who highlighted some of the dishes and their preparation. This is where my mouth begins to water, imagining all of the things that are about to happen to my little tastebuds! The cool thing about going out with Eszti and Aaron is that all 4 of us have different tastes, which was great because we all ended up getting 4 different dinners and I got to taste everyone’s meals for the sake of journalism. Also, Eszti and Aaron have been here quite a few times, and so their waiter (who you can request on a regular basis when you make a reservation) actually remembered her name! I felt like I was at a restaurant with Dolly Levi or something, because we kept getting things for free, too.
They don’t serve you bread here for a free starter. They actually serve edamame! Edamame “is a green vegetable more commonly known as a soybean, harvested at the peak of ripening right before it reaches “hardening”. It’s often available at Japanese restaurants and here, it was spiced with a delicious, spicy pepper/salt mixture. One awesome thing about Roy’s is that you can actually get the recipes for a lot of their dishes right on their website! I will do a separate post about the Roy’s edamame recipe. They also ended up bringing out a free 4-piece tempura tuna sushi rolls, just because Eszti and Aaron come in often. It was delicious. It pays to know people around here…
We looked over the menu, and as I said, ended up ordering different things. Here is a link to the Roy’s Restaurant Sarasota menu. I am going to review by person rather than course, so you can get a full effect times 4!
I ordered the Wild Mushroom Spaetzle, with flavors of Truffle and Soy as my appetizer. It was very good, but could have used a little bit more salt, to my taste. This is the kind of restaurant, however, where salt and pepper aren’t on the table, but I found that it allowed me to enjoy the other flavors going on a bit better, which were subtle and noticeable when I was a few bites in. And ohh, those caramelized pearl onions…For my entree I decided to get my money’s worth and order the Fire Grilled 8oz Filet Mignon, served with Confit Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Fennel, with a Sherry Au Poive Reduction, which is normally $32.95 by itself. I always order steak medium rare but prefer it to be towards the rare side, if possible (a little party trick I picked up in France, because they don’t give you a choice) and it came out perfectly cooked. I have to say though, all-in-all for this entree, I wasn’t very impressed. The filet wasn’t the sort of melt-in-your-mouth quality that I’m used to. I ordered this because I know Filets, and this one was not the best ever. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but not what I would have expected from a restaurant like this. Also, it was seasoned with some slightly crushed peppercorns, which I found a bit bold and slightly distracting, but that’s just my taste. The potatoes were quite good and had a delicious cheese melted over top, which reminded me of the way they serve la raclette in France, and the green beans were tasty, but I would have like them cooked just a bit more. For dessert, I ordered the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which is caramellized pineapples baked in a brown sugar pound cake, with coconut ice cream. One bite and I thought I was in heaven, literally. Everything about this was perfect – sweet sticky pineapple, soft cake, and the most delicious texture of toasted coconut ice cream ever. And the best part was I got to try some of everyone else’s choices as well!
Aaron ordered some winners as well. He has tried quite a few things on the menu and said that he really likes just about everything they have. For his appetizer, he ordered the Korean Short Rib Soup with Potato, Daikon, Cilantro, Chili, Aromatic Beef Stock. The bite I tasted must have known I don’t like cilantro, because I didn’t get a hint of that, which was good, and the soup was a hearty, salty, delicious choice. For his entree, he ordered the Cedar Plank Roasted U-10 Day Boat Scallops with coconut Poached Purple Sweet Potatoes and Maple Bacon Butter. I only got a taste of the scallops but I am so glad I did. These were literally to die for. So fresh and soft and perfectly cooked – I think I will definitely order this the next time I go in. For his dessert, he got the other one I was eyeing, the Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding, flavored with Chinese five spice and ginger, smothered in dulce de leche caramel. One bite of this and I had a hard time choosing a favorite between mine and his. This is the moment I started considering just coming in next time for a 6 course meal of all desserts. Beyond explanation, it was just amazing. And because our table was full of “celebrities”, AGAIN they brought out a free dessert – a round two of the bread pudding! SCORE! (However, this caused some major pains in the stomach area because I definitely didn’t plan ahead to eat 1.6 desserts, but I pushed the physical anguish aside and bravely indulged. I was sorry after, but that’s my cross to bear.)
Eszti ordered some winners, too. For her appetizer, she had the Teriyaki Chicken & Glass Noodle Spring Rolls with a Pineapple Black Bean Dragon Sauce. These were off the charts as well, because anything with the name Dragon in it, must be cool. Her entree was the Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish with a Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette. It was served with some sort of maybe squash or sweet potatoes with a spicy kick, that was probably that Japanese spice also on the edamame. This was all just superb, and the flavors went together so well. Her dessert was a solid choice of the Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle, flourless chocolate cake with a molten center, raspberry and vanilla gelato. This was exactly what you’d expect – a stick to the roof of your mouth sort of chocolate-y decadence. Awesome.
As an appetizer, Tamas got the Grilled Szechuan Spiced Pork Ribs served Smoked & Glazed in Roy’s Original Mongolian Sauce. He was literally over-the-moon with this appetizer and couldn’t say enough. I have to say that it was a pretty delicious choice. The Sauce was complex and the meat was sooo tender. For his entree, Tamas ordered, his safe choice of pork again, the Grilled 14oz Bone-in Pork Chop with Mustard Seed and Scallion Spaetzle, Fennel Sauerkraut, Mustard Demi. In this case, his boringness is actually a good thing, because since he knows about so many types of pork, because Hungarians eat a LOT of pork – he can really be an expert at judging it. He thought it was delicious, and although he always cooks the hell out of his meat choices, he said it was expertly prepared. For dessert, I didn’t think anything could top Aaron’s bread pudding or my cake, but Tamas’ literally took the cake. He got the Guava & Cream Cheese Strudel, wrapped in puffed pastry with a hint of vanilla and lemon. The poor guy, though – as we were all trying everyone else’s desserts, he wasn’t left with much of his strudel, but I think that he ordered the winner. We were all amazed at the delicious tastes there, and Tamas should know – Hungarians eat a lot of strudel.
Overall, I have to say that this was a very good experience. Tamas says this is his new favorite restaurant. We all ordered some really delicious choices and I loved the varying tastes and styles of food that you can find here. Most things are very high quality and expertly prepared, so I have to say that this is a really great place to eat — once you get past the sticker shock.
Go to my Flickr account to check out my Roy’s Restaurant Review images set to see the rest of the pics I took of all the delicious food we had that night. Or you can watch the short video I made as well for some audio commentary!
Delicious foods with a wide selection of tastes for every palette plus an incredibly romantic, upscale atmosphere. Worth saving up to visit for a special occasion.