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ROYALE - "out of burgers" at 8pm

admittedly, the ny times alerted me of the existence of Royale, and I'm always up for a new entry into the NYC burger pantheon.

Really liked the set-up, vibe, etc.

Unfortunately, no burgers to sample.

This brings up an interesting question: If you're a Manhattan restaurateur and you receive a great review similar to the one that Peter Meehan gave to Royale in the Times, don't you immediately make sure that you increase your meat order for hamburgers?

The place was packed and our waitress indicated that it was a dramatic difference compared to prior to the review...

I hope I get to try their burger soon.

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  1. Either nobody there reads the "NY Times," or it's an obvious case of extremely poor management.

    I mentioned once in another thread that my daughter and a friend went to Burgers & Cupcakes for dinner a couple of months ago, and when it came time for dessert, their server informed them there were no cupcakes. They had run out. As my daughter put it, "Your name is Burgers & *Cupcakes* and you run out of cupcakes?!!" To say she was pissed is putting it mildly. And, btw, this happened without any kind of write-up in a major newspaper.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      This is a GOOD thing. Instead of going to the local Key Food and picking up all the ground meat on the shelves Royale is apparently keeping to high standards.

    2. I can't say I'm surprised. If I read a positive NY Times review about a restaurant I've wanted to try, I usually avoid it for the next month or two to let the crowds die down.

      You also have to realize it was one day after the review came out it. The bar probably had no idea if the review was going to positive at all, let alone pretty glowing. Plus, I'm sure its hard to estimate how much of an effect a review will have on a bar on Avenue C after one day. Maybe they increased their meat order 500% and it still wasn't enough or they couldn't get their supplier to increase their order that much in one day.

      As pissed off as I'd be, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt this time. If this happened again at any point after this week, then I'd never go back.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ESNY

        I agree w/ESNY - I filed the Times article away and marked it to try in November. I mean how predictable was this in a city with thousands of food review lemmings?

        1. re: livetotravel

          I have a friend who owns a couple of restaurants. Based on my conversations with him, it is very difficult, especially at the beginning of a business, to predict demand. This is true even in the wake of favorable publicity. If you over-order, especially meat, you could end up losing a significant amount of money.

      2. It's not always that easy. The restaurant probably doesn't not have enough refrideration storage to serve 200 burgers a night. You can't just throw bags of raw meat in the back on the floor. Spotted Pig goes through over HALF A TON of burgers a week. Ramping up for the kind of demand that a NY Times review can bring is a lot more complex than add 10 lbs of ground chuck to your fresh direct order. I went there before the review and the guys were serving maybe a couple dozen a night. I'd give em a week or two to sort it out.

        1. It has been packed for some time. It was packed before that review. That's why I've never been in there. I guess the previous sardines were boozing, not eating.

          1. Know what? Don't bother. Went Sunday around 7, plenty of tables and burgers in stock. Whatever their traffic was before the NYT review, I can't imagine the service being slower. And the burger...

            I'll start from the outside in. The bun was toasted. Theoretically, a nice touch, but the sesame bun they used was dry and had the texture of stale bread. The result was oddly that it soaked none of the meat's juices (which the meat sorely needed; read on). The lettuce was pretty, but utterly useless. Tomato, not ripe. Good onions, but how hard is that? I'm not well versed in pickles, but they were wrong. They lacked the tangy and tart touch that makes them an asset to a burger. Just distracting. The bacon was rubbery and flavorless. The cheese--only option is American--ended up in the basket with the juices. Speaking of juices, or lack thereof, the patty was the consistency of meatloaf. Not bad, but not good for a hamburger. Just crumbly, dry and boring. Supposedly, Royale is pretty accurate when cooking the burger to order. My medium-rare was very much a medium (if not medium-well). My friend's medium a definite medium-well (all grey).

            Lure is next.

            1. I agree with those who think that drinking helps the burgers at Royale.

              I too thought Royale was known for their ability to accurately hit temperature, but my "medium" was medium-well/well and my boyfriend's "medium-rare" was medium. I never send back food (unless there's hair) but I have to send back a burger with no pink.

              Our waitress was confused. She had to speak to someone behind the bar to decide what to do. She came back and asked me if I wanted another burger. I said I wanted one that was "pink" (what I usually say when ordering medium just to be clear). She asked, "a little bloody?" I said "No. Pink."
              20 minutes later I still had no replacement, my boyfriend was finished, and there were maybe 10 other people in the place. Our waitress asked if we needed anything else. "Her burger," my boyfriend said.
              Now, I do not know if she forgot to put the order in or what but she was a bit surprised. Maybe 10 more minutes passed. She brought out a burger - with cheese! which I did not order. I asked for a knife and scraped off most of the goo. I was being very nice. I cut into the meat and told her it looked good. Once I started to eat it, though, I realized it was med-rare. My boyfriend was jealous. We ate it.
              When our waitress came back to clear my plate, she asked how it was. I said, "It's okay, I obviously ate it, but it was medium-rare." She went back to the guy behind the bar to discuss. I wondered if they would not charge us given the time lapse and the wrong temperature. We were charged for the orig 2 burgers.

              Anyway, I'm not writing to complain about $5. I'm writing to say that Royale is absolutely not worth the trip (esp if you are not drinking). Terrible service, marginal food.

              If you're looking for a decent burger in Manhattan go to:
              burger joint
              good burger
              PJ Clarke's
              and any number of Irish pubs like McCormick's on 3rd Ave

              I am sure everyone has their own favorites, I'm just saying: Avoid Royale

              2 Replies
              1. re: sarapeater

                It’s sad to hear that you didn't enjoy your trip & burger to Royale. My gf and I went there last weekend and had a completely different experience. We sat at the bar, ordered two burgers (medium), some fries and a couple of beers. Our service was excellent and the burgers were just as good as Corner Bistro. Anyone else have a good experience? It seems people aren't too happy with Royale....

                1. re: Huffy

                  I've been there twice and had excellent burgers both times. Bun toasty but not burnt and patties nice and juicy. One of the temps was off but the juiciness was still there. I am not too found of the fries but that was about it. The staff was very nice as well.

              2. I had a decent experience there about 10 days ago.

                I arrived on a Wednesday night around 9:30. The place was about half empty. I met up with my friend and we sat at the bar.

                Service was good and we got our burgers right away.

                I ordered the bacon cheeseburger med. rare. I liked the brioche bun--a little toasted and buttery. The burger was cooked a little less than med. rare but I prefer to have it a little less than the usual, a lot more. Good onions. Pickles, cheese and bacon were nothing special. Also, I liked the simple wedge-shaped fries.

                Being satisfied but not blown away with our burgers, we decided to split a turkey club. This was not very good. Turkey was decent but the toast was dry and overall not a great sandwich.

                I would definitely say that the burgers are better than Corner Bistro because they cook them appropriately and have a great bun. Other than that, I know I make a better burger at home and there are many restaurants that serve a better burger than Royale.

                Overall, since I live down the street, I would say it's a great neighborhood joint with decent burgers, good service at the bar and nice atmosphere. I would not travel from a different neighborhood to eat at Royale.