As a rule, I normally don't review chain restaurants, but Roy's is an exception to that rule. We'd been to Fleming's (a steakhouse we love) on numerous occasions, and I was always curious about Roy's - their next door neighbor. So I finally bit the bullet and made a reservation. When we pulled up, the first thing I noticed were the flaming tiki torches that flank the front door. In my book, cheap tricks like that are usually a cover up for less than average cuisine. However, I knew that Roy's was billed as a Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, so I just went with it. And boy, am I glad I did.
The attention to detail is evident from the moment they seat you at your table. As I was wearing a gray skirt, the hostess switched out my yellow napkin for a more appropriate black one. However, hubby was wearing khakis, so she gave him the yellow one. Little touches like that show that a place is serious about service. But as I took in the tropical decor of yellows, oranges and browns and the paintings of totem poles, I still wondered if the food would be up to snuff.
With one quick look at the menu, I knew I was in trouble. Appetizers like Lobster Potstickers, Blackened Island Ahi and Szechuan Spiced Pork Ribs had me at indecision junction - and those were just the appetizers! I literally wanted EVERYTHING on the menu. That rarely happens. Usually I take a look at a menu and one, maybe two things stick out at me as sounding good. Here, I was so smitten by the food, that when the waiter came and asked for our drink order, I just looked at him with a stupid grin.
So, he filled up our water glasses and laid down some complimentary edamame, Roy's unique substitute for bread (carb haters rejoice!). I immediately dug in, my mouth having been watering just from reading the menu, and was met with another pleasant surprise. The edamame was not only coated with salt, but another set of spices that gave it a little kick. See those red flecks? Some sort of chili powder, maybe?
For my cocktail, I ultimately went with the top billed drink of the house, The Original Hawaiian Martini - an infusion of SKYY Vodka with Maui pineapples, Stoli Vanil Voda and Malibu Coconut Rum. And hubby went with the classic Mai Tai. As we took our first sips, I swear we were both transported back to our ocean-view balcony on our Maui vacation some years ago. They were both perfectly tart and sweet and refreshing all at the same time.
Right after our drinks were delivered, another complimentary bite was set down before us - an Amuse Bouche that our waiter told us was a Caponata made with eggplant, tomato, olives and capers marinated in olive oil with a bit of goat cheese on top. We gobbled them down in one slurp. It was a crunchy, tangy, bright little pop of flavor that left us wanting more. I swear hubby would have licked the tiny bowl clean if we weren't in public.
Finally, we had to make a decision about appetizers. Actually, we still couldn't make a decision, so we got Roy's Canoe Appetizer for Two. I'd highly recommend ordering this on your first visit. You get 5 of Roy's most popular appetizers including the Lemongrass Shrimp, Szechuan Pork Ribs, Tempura Spicy Tuna Roll, Golden Lobster Potstickers and Blackened Island Ahi. And they give you 2 pieces of each (10 pieces total), so you and your date get one bite of each. It's a great way to test out a bunch of yummy things to decide what you'd like to order on your next visit. Here are my thoughts on the apps:
- Lemongrass Shrimp - It's just shrimp. With cocktail sauce. Not sure how the lemongrass comes into play.
- Szechuan Pork Ribs - AH. MA. ZING. Falls right off the bone. Has a lovely sweet, smoky flavor that evokes that perfect Asian saucy goodness.
- Tempura Spicy Tuna Roll - Crispy on the outside. Spicy on the inside. What's not to love? Well, I would have liked a little saucer of soy sauce to dip in it, but otherwise, I'm not complaining.
- Golden Lobster Potstickers - Crunchy little wontons with melty lobster on the inside served with a spicy miso butter sauce. I mean, puh-lease - I could have eaten 10 more of these!
- Blackened Island Ahi - Served with a spicy soy mustard butter sauce that was both savory and tangy. Not the best ahi I've ever had, but the sauce kicked it up a notch.
But I could have been perfectly happy with hubby's mahi mahi as well, and that's really saying something for me. Because mahi mahi is such a thick fish, most restaurants overcook it and dry it out, so I rarely order it anymore. However, they got this one exactly right. It was moist on the inside and salty and crunchy outside and served with a lobster butter sauce that was just WRONG. If wrong means abso-frickin'-lutely RIGHT. Hubby was nice enough to offer me a few bites, and even gave me one of his trademark, "Are you sure you don't want any more? Cause I'm gonna eat the rest." Gotta love him!
After a meal this good, we couldn't help but order dessert (even though we were stuffed to the gills!). As we sat waiting for our Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle, a manager came over to our table and as it was the Saturday before Mother's Day, he asked if I was a mother. I told him I had a fur baby at home, and as a dog owner himself, he agreed that qualified as motherhood. He gave me a lovely daisy to place behind my left ear (as I was taken) and a coupon for $20 off my next visit. Seriously, this night could NOT get any better. Until the dessert arrived...
Chocolate cake with molten chocolate lava inside, vanilla ice cream to cool it off and a swirl of raspberry coulis - what more could a girl ask for? I should have taken a picture of the chocolately stuff spilling out of the middle of the cake, but honestly, we inhaled that sucker so fast, the camera was the last thing on my mind. It was a divine way to end a delicious dinner. And as we exited to the same stream of alohas that we had first been greeted with, I simply looked at hubby and said - we're definitely coming back here!
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A+
Presentation - A+
Service - A+
Price - $$$
2011 Siesta Drive
Sarasota FL 34239