3401 First Avenue, Bankers Hill
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
The doorway between the Royal Cafe and the Royal Food Mart in Hillcrest disappeared during the recent remodel. In its place, a bigger menu materialized, replete with more substantial breakfast items (about $6-$10), and some small plates for later in the day. The “Grand Opening” flag still flies out front, and the Hillcrest brunch crowd hasn’t yet descended en masse.
Rather than mimicking the grotesque brunch platters of other neighborhood hotspots, Royal’s tiny kitchen turns out reserved fare, in human-sized portions, with a touch of inventiveness.
A trio of pancakes made with Quark (a British semi-liquid cheese) isn’t the sleep-inducing carb-bomb it might be. The sweet, dense cakes come topped with chopped fruit and a drizzle of syrup.
Quinoa porridge, boiled in coconut milk and lightly sweetened, is fair competition for more conventional oatmeal. The Royal’s scrambled egg breakfast includes a light vegetable ratatouille in place of potatoes, and a modest portion of toasted baguette.
Despite the refreshing modesty of the Royal’s brunch, it’s the compelling tea selection that catches the eye. Quirky, off-color names for teas (Hipsters in Wonderland, Bi-Curious George, et. al.) make light of clever blending by the T-We tea company; whose penchant for adding coffee beans to more traditional tea preparations is not to be overlooked! Tea this good can make a breakfast.