Roy’s Chicago, 720 N. State St., recently hosted some Chicago food bloggers for a meet-Roy’s event. It’s a lovely place—little sparkly lights on the white-cloth-covered tables, spotlights, mirrors and lots of windows make it feel like a haven of gracious relaxation. You get a tropical feel even inside because out the windows you see greenery planted all around. And they keep those plants thriving in the hot summer weather
Then, too, there’s the large and comfortable-looking patio that opens off both the side and the front of the main restaurant. This patio is VERY inviting. For those who only like to sit outside when the weather is perfect (maybe 10 days a year in Chicago), you may feel yourself drawn to the patio in even the extra-hot weather we’ve been having lately. Why? Because it’s surrounded by plants, its tables and chairs have generous amounts of space between them, and it has a slatted roof overhead that can close when it rains. Plus they have ceiling fans softly whirring! Kinda feels like you’re sitting outside on your own porch.
Ismael, the bartender, offers warm, friendly service up in the front of the house, which looked to be a popular after-work spot. As to the food, appetizers on this visit included an heirloom tomato salad served on a pool of macadamia nut pesto (perhaps a little heavy for the tomato dish). But the little blobs of homemade ricotta and the minty shiso herb garnish were lovely, light and fresh-tasting. Little dumplings called Shrimp Shumai were made with Chinese cabbage and Kaiware sprouts (from Daikon radishes) topped with a pineapple Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) vinaigrette. Noticeable cabbage texture in the filling and overall, very nice.
Be prepared to enjoy Pacific Rim fruity sauces and garnishes with flavors like pineapple and passion fruit. The whole (head-on) grilled shrimp appetizer tasted charcoal-y and nicely done. The Kona coffee-crusted pork (it was pink and rare but tender and juicy) was a great foil for the intense coffee coating. The accompanying coconut puree with mushrooms and bok choy made a stellar side, especially with the grilled tomato covered with truffle-oil breadcrumbs. Num! A pan-seared Hawaiian fish known as Onaga was light and tasty, though it would have been even better with a little more sear. The sides of baby squash, tomato and carrot puree were perfect companions.
The wine list is more than respectable, and the house knows how to pair selections nicely with food. And oh, yeah, the house wines are Roy’s own bottled wines. A very nice Cabernet at 7 bucks a glass was a good deal. Their signature Roy’s martini sounds like a winner, too, made with coconut rum and two kinds of vodka that have been flavored by macerating ripe pineapple in them. Sounds like a must-have for next time.
The dessert, White Chocolate Tart with passion fruit gel and sorbet, made a happy Mahalo (thank you!) ending. Their Aloha hour (4:30 to 7 weeknights and after 9 pm) features a selection of tempting $7 bar bites like Lobster Potstickers or Tempura-Crusted Ahi Roll, and several $7 cocktails like the Ginger Buck (gin, ginger, lemon juice and champagne) or the Cucumber Martini (vodka, cucumber water, melon liquor). Hmmm. 7 is my lucky number. I’ll be back!
To learn more about Roy’s (since 1988) visit the Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Roy’s restaurant website.