I must admit, I haven’t been to a Roy’s restaurant in quite some time. My impression is Roy’s is an “older crowd” place with stuffy cuisine that doesn’t excite me. I was pleasantly surprised to find new and interesting food that offered twists on the stated “Hawaiian Fusion” style. Roy’s is making food that I want to eat, and they now have a decent craft beer selection on top of it.
Ed Heethuis has always been a big fan of Chef John Vega, who previously has been the Chef at Taps, and finally was able to host a beer pairing dinner with his food featuring Ritual Brewing Co. beers. Ed gave riveting speeches about each beer and taught the crowd about craft beer in a very entertaining and approachable way. It was truly a joy to watch him work the room.
1st course: Kona Kampachi Crudo: kumquat, fennel, fennel pollen, orange & thyme gremolata. Pairing: Ritual Wit’s End. I was a bit worried about the fennel since I am not a fan of the licorice flavors that can sometimes happen with fennel. My fears subsided once I bit into this dish. I didn’t taste licorice at all, only fresh crisp greens with the incredible fish and citrus pop from the kumquat. The fish went wonderfully with the Wit as it was light and didn’t overpower the subtle flavors of the dish.
2nd course: Fried Egg Noodles “Ramen”: pork shank, pea shoots, cilantro, fermented black bean. Pairing: Ritual Hellion. Ramen! So exciting. The fried noodles were perfect texture, with the soft chunks of pork that wasn’t fatty at all. I loved all the pea shoots and cilantro because it helped brighten the heavyness of pasta with meat and a very flavorful broth. I loved it overall, but I would say the broth was a tad salty. It did pair expertly with the Hellion because the sweetness and carbonation of the beer cut into the salty broth and made for a wonderful bite. I would eat it again for sure.
3rd course: IPA Poached Chilean Sea Bass: pickled ramps, barley succotash, leeks, morel mushrooms. Pairing: Ritual Single Rye IPA ~ El Dorado. This fish was like butter on a warm day as the pieces just slid off because it was beautifully cooked. The ramps were delightful and the barley succotash was very yummy. This might be my favorite course from the day. The IPA was the palate cleanser to invite you to take another bite as you ate, another great pairing.
4th course: Lamb T-Bone: mushroom ragout, lamb sausage savory bread pudding. Pairing: Ritual Hop-O-Matic. Another terrific course. The bread pudding was possibly my favorite thing of the evening. It had crispy browned edges and reminded me a cross between a quiche and a popover. I kept muttering to my husband how much I loved it. The lamb t-bone was perfectly cooked and slightly rare in the middle, and the charred leek on top was so good. This was comfort food but without all the fatty shortcuts. The beer went really well with the dish as it lent a citrusy and sweet component to the savory and rich flavors.
5th course: Olive Oil Cake: red ale caramel, duck ice cream, citrus espuma. Pairing: Ritual Extra Red Ale. To me, the star of this dessert was the duck ice cream with the crumble around it. Chef John said he was going for the flavors of a carrot cake, and I think he nailed it. I loved the frosting that was on top of the olive oil cake, I think that was the citrus espuma? The cake by itself was a tad dry, but I think that’s because it was meant to soak-up the caramel and ice cream. Overall it was a dreamy dessert that was fun to eat.
I hope Roy’s keeps doing these beer dinners as the people who attended seemed genuinely interested in learning about craft beer. Sean and I met an adorable couple that night who asked us several questions while jotting-down notes on their menu to take home later. Things like “tell me about what a cicerone is” and “why does the Hef have banana and bubblegum flavors” makes my heart smile. Chef John Vega did a fantastic job and the staff at Roy’s was attentive and very professional. Cheers!