...10 • lie
Royal Oak's Town Tavern
the new gathering p ce.
BY DAVID MOSS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGIE BAAN
116 W. Fourth Street
Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m-1 a.m.
Friday-Saturday. 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
• SEPTEMBER 2007 •
Squeeze into Royal Oak's Town Tavern, whose doors just opened in June, and get ready
for a treat. The crowd was thick, even on a weeknight — my group waited patiently at
the bar for almost 30 minutes before being seated. But our visit was well worth the wait.
Proprietor Bill Roberts, who also owns Beverly Hills Grill and Birmingham's
Streetside Seafood, has succeeded in creating the inviting feel of a 1930s tavern that
he was shooting for. Historic photos borrowed from the Royal Oak Historical Society
Museum adorn the wood-paneled walls. Knowledgeable servers in crisp white shirts
bound from table to table, checking on food and drink, offering suggestions and clear-
ing plates. The restaurant bustles with activity and the chatter of happy diners.
Once seated, I started the evening with a glass of a Spanish white wine, Codax
Albarino, which I found to be refreshing and food friendly, with tastes of apples, melon
and grapefruit. My dining companion enjoyed the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, a
New Zealand mainstay with hints of grapefruit, pear and lemons. The wine list was easy
to navigate, with several choices available by the glass in the $7-$10 range.
Appetizers included coconut chicken, French onion soup topped with loads of Swiss
and Parmesan, and several salads. We opted for the Short Rib Tacos, which looked like
our kids' Lunchables, but tasted exceptionally good. Seasoned, tender, short-rib meat is
rolled into soft-flour tortillas, topped with cilantro and served with a tangy salsa. This
is an imaginative dish with lots of flavor that won't spoil your appetite. Our next course
was a Caprese salad, nicely presented with fresh Mozzarella, fragrant basil and red, juicy
tomatoes, all served on a drizzled balsamic reduction with pesto.
The food demands attention here, both for its presentation and creativity, particularly
in choices such as Steak Diane (tenderloin medallions in brandy sauce) meat loaf, lemon
pepper chicken and a turkey cutlet crusted with panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Entree
salads include pulled chicken with maple/mustard vinaigrette, a classic Caesar and warm
tenderloin with blue cheese. A Tavern Burger and sandwiches round out the menu.
We chose off the specials list, which features fresh fish and seafood daily. My dining
companion ordered halibut cheeks (you read correctly!), a delicacy that is a little denser
than the halibut fillet, but every bit as tasty and served with fried baby artichokes with
Greek panzanella, fennel, kalamata olives and a port wine reduction. I chose the pan-
fried swordfish served over sweet corn bisque with French beans and grape tomatoes in
a white-wine sauce. Both fish entrees were delicious and exquisitely presented.
After our plates were cleared, we couldn't resist trying the BHG (Beverly Hills Grill)
Chocolate Brownie with Ray's Vanilla Ice Cream and Sanders Hot Fudge. Plenty for
two, it was rich and delicious.
Town Tavern promises a friendly and enjoyable dining experience. It's the perfect
destination for a trendy but casual meal among friends or to impress someone special. 0