Royale's proof is in the patty - and the personality

Long Street eatery has much more to offer than your average burger joint

I find of late one of the outstanding characteristics referred to when describing a restaurant, diner or even club is it’s ‘atmosphere’ or ‘ambiance’. Sometimes to the point of ridiculousness - so that the quality of the overall experience may even takes second place. “It’s really cool; it felt like we were eating in a real cowboy bar. Food made me sick for days, but we must go again sometime, I really think you’d like it.’’ As lauded as your praise is I assure you, I would not.

As with all things, one outstanding virtue cannot make up for severe failing in other departments. And while it should be remembered that the enjoyment of ‘atmosphere’ is a matter of subjectivity, it is rare for me personally to find a place that makes me feel like I have stepped into a unique environment altogether, certainly enough to make me ignore other failings. So it was not without some measure of pleasant surprise that I sat down to partake of my meal at the Royale Eatery - Cape Town's burger joint with a character.

Even from the outside view, and even amongst Long Street’s varied and individualistic choosings, the simple yet memorable red crest branding the Royale Eatery ( which I have heard called both Royale Burger and Royale Cafe, but interestingly never its actual name ) stood out for me. It immediately put me in the mind of a ‘Ye Olde English Toy Shoppe’, and I half expected to see a giant clockwork soldier in the window. Alas to my disappointment the only objects in the window were apparently satisfied customers.

But this is the fun thing about the decor of Royale – despite every detail having been included with definite purpose; you’re not quite sure what they’re going for. While distinctly bohemian art adorns the interior walls, the attentive waitresses walk around in what I can only describe as ‘American diner’ aprons, and the music being played varies between French Jazz and a lighter shade of Trip-Hop. I felt I had been transported into an amalgamation of Quentin Tarantino films (It was only later that I was reminded of the ‘Royale Burger’ reference in Mr Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, so quite possibly the design was intentional ).

So points for Royale – I was thoroughly enthralled by the – and I do hate to use the word, ‘’Ambiance’’. Even the menu’s, little ‘novella’s’ reminiscent of long forgotten cook books stacked in the back of mothers cupboards added suitably to the erratic yet incredibly successful vibe. This brings me to the content of the menu’s, and what content it is. Here I was, so enticed by the scenery that I felt failings were scheduled to arrive soon, only to be even more impressed by the vast and incredibly diverse range of burgers on offer.

For Royale is first and foremost - as any hungry Capetonian will tell you - famous for its burgers. That’s not to say burgers are all they have offer – my lunch partner ordered the quite reasonably priced pizza and was definitely not disappointed. But with over thirty different types on offer, burgers are quite definitely their speciality. I went with the Santori - pork topped with teriyaki sauce, ginger and chilli - and found it to be every bit as delicious as I had dared to hope. While one may not be faulted for thinking that paying between R50 and R70 is a lot for a burger, one bite will alter your perception, in a quite literal sense.

Every bite was more delectable than the last, and despite the screams of FULL! that my stomach was shouting at me, I could not but push through until I had devoured every last bit. So not only did the ‘atmosphere’ at Royale manage to negate any failings, as soon as the waitress speedily took away my empty plate and just as quickly returned with the desired bill I realised they were severely lacking in failings. ‘’So let me tell you, I went to this place, it’s really cool, it felt like we were eating in...’’

by John Scharges

ps. Apparently Salma Hayek has her burgers at Royale too. Shame I just missed her.

Royale Eatery
273 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 4536

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 pm to 11 pm

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