Back to Austin Restaurant Week, yeah. Logan was only home for a little over a week before heading back to Hawaii for 5 weeks, so we were trying to see as many friends as we possibly could in the little time he had left here :sniff:.
We met the always-awesome Crystal and Justin at Roy's. Roy's might seem like a bit of an odd choice - I mean, it is a big, expensive chain restaurant, and these aren't normally at the top of our dinner list - but Restaurant Week and its $35 3-course meals make all things possible, and, perhaps, more likely. Plus, all four of us were freshly back from (separate) trips to Hawaii, so when better to give the place the ol' Boots look-see?
I have to say, the company was BY FAR the best thing about the place. (Thanks, guys!)
First, a round of drinks at the bar. The mai tais were meh, too sweet, but my lychee martini was OK. Still sweet, yes, but with a serious and much-appreciated tropical lychee flavor.
After being seated, we went off the Restaurant Week menu and ordered an extra appetizer, Roy's Yellow Ahi Poke, with hearts of palm, avocado, wasabi aioli, and truffle oil. It also came topped with a seaweed salad and what I think was flying fish roe. Very pretty presentation, with nicely fried wonton chips.
This was easily the best thing I tried that night. Everything here balanced well, from the fresh fish to the slight heat of the wasabi and the crunch of the fish eggs. The hearts of palm and avocado got right in there with the textural contrast. The truffle oil thankfully stayed in the background. I wonder what Tanioka's on O'ahu would think of this take on poke?
The three appetizer choices were a shrimp lumpia, beef tenderloin dumplings, and a lazy-sounding spinach salad with apple bacon vinaigrette. I mean, that last is fine, but not what I'd expected from a fine dining chain.
I wanted the shrimp lumpia, but they'd run out and offered to substitute lobster potstickers. Fine by me!
Here they are, "Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers, spicy togarashi miso butter sauce".
These were awfully disappointing. If you've read more than 2 posts on here, you know how much I love love LOVE dumplings, in all their forms, but these were just sad. Overfried, dried out skins wrapped around a chewy, mostly flavorless (allegedly) lobster filling, sitting in a pool of too-rich butter sauce. The little cucumber salad on the side was a good save, though, since it cut through that buttery butter. These are dumplings, sure, just not the kind I love.
Logan got the "Tenderloin & Wild Mushroom Asian Dumplings, spicy sesame rayu butter".
First off, even though this was supposed to be a different sauce than the one on the lobster potstickers, put side by side they tasted exactly the same. Still a cloying, heavy, creamy butter sauce. The dumpling skins here were undercooked (or perhaps too much time had passed since they were steamed), which made them chewy and dry on top, and the filling of tenderloin and mushroom was mostly undifferentiated mush.
We got the same entrees, "Roy's Classic Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, lobster-cognac cream sauce". When we ordered our fish, the totally on-point server (honestly, the service there was wonderful - efficient, unobtrusive, knowledgeable) asked how we'd like the fish cooked, saying the chef preferred medium-rare. Sounded good to us.
Yeah, that would be why we were doubly sad when this limp, overcooked piece of fish showed up, perched atop undercooked potatoes.
We were well outside of flaky fish territory, deep in the land of dry and mealy. Good thing the sauce was delicious. It had an actual lobster and cognac flavor and almost saved the dish, but an entree that costs $28.95 on the normal menu should have been better executed than this.
Just like at Green Pastures the night before, I was quite full - but dessert was included. Crystal and I ordered "Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle: flourless chocolate cake with a molten hot center served a la mode", because inside Roy's, it's suburban America circa 2003. Somehow I missed out on the molten chocolate cake craze when it was... ah... a la mode. (Sorry.) This was good, melty and napalm hot in the center. I could only manage a couple of bites.
The boys ordered the "Warm Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart served with vanilla bean ice cream". Justin said the ice cream that came with our desserts was better. Logan remembers barely anything about this dessert - just that the crust was too thick and dry and that he was too full to properly appreciate it.
Really, Roy's makes perfect sense. It's right across the street from the convention center downtown and I'm sure does a good business with folks on expense accounts visiting Austin for meetings. It's not for foodies or people that like to dork out about what they're eating. This iteration of Roy's is all about appearances, and expense, and steaks served with a fake Hawaiian stamp - like Outback, but "Hawaiian", and (at least) twice the price.
It's just not for me.
One last thing. I know we were there for Restaurant Week, and that the kitchen might have been slacking a bit because the place was full of cheapsters for this event, but this meal just suffered from too many execution problems for me to want to go back and spend more. The only thing "cooked" properly was the raw fish, which is sort of hilarious in a nice restaurant.
Roy's Austin is at 340 e. 2nd Street in Austin. 512.391.1500.
(Roy's closed in early 2010.)