Royal Mile: A Review

the-royal-mile

For my birthday, I wanted to go someplace different. Not the Olive Garden or some other chain restaurant, which I love, but hate myself for loving. Originally, I wanted Italian, but thus far in my exploration of Italian food in Des Moines, the results have been lackluster and oftentimes unsettling. So, I decided to go for something else. Seafood! There are several seafood establishments in Des Moines, but as I looked at www.tripadvisor.com, I came across a list of the best restaurants in Des Moines. The first few showed some places I’ve been looking forward to trying like Centro’s and Lucca, but then I read about the sixth most popular restaurant in Des Moines: the Royal Mile.

It is a traditional British pub and the menu said that they had Cornish pasties, so, at that moment, I forgot all about seafood and decided it was the place to go–I adore a good Cornish Pasty. (Probably something hereditary.)

So, it was soon my birthday, and we drove downtown and without too much difficulty found the pub. I am always pleasantly surprised by how lovely downtown Des Moines is. There’s not a tremendous amount of things to do, but it is nice looking, which I appreciate. The outside of the pub/restaurant looked just like it was in London, which was quite delightful.

When you step inside, it is a bit disorientating, it is very, very dark and until your eyes adjust you feel rather stupid because you know all of the regulars and staff are looking at you like the foreigner you are.

We quickly sat down at a table, and I looked all around me. There were pictures and posters and flags everywhere of various British things. Signs from old Underground stops in London like Victoria and King James hung on the walls. Behind me was an antique fireplace and very old books and bottles. All in all, it was very attractive. Even the air smelt nice, of old wood. The TV had a rugby match on, a game I understand even less than football and baseball, which to me, are like Latin. But, I was very pleased with the decorations and the look in general. I truly felt like I was in one of the pubs I had been to in London in the times I’ve been there.

The staff was very friendly too, recommending things and making suggestions, substituting sides when necessary. We placed our orders, and it wasn’t very long until the appetizer arrived.

We had mozzarella cheese sticks as an appetizer. We all love them, even though they are probably cancer sticks. I have every doubt that they were made by the cooks, most likely taken out of the freezer and then deep fried, but that does not mean they weren’t good, because they were very, very good. They reminded me of the kind you get at Arby’s only a lot better. The marinara sauce was generous and quite tasty, too.

Now, the food came. Ma and Pa both had bangers and mash. Jessica had a bacon cheeseburger (she isn’t the most willing to try new things.) Since it was my birthday, I ordered two entrees, which were a Chicken & Leek Pasty and a Steak & Guinness Pie. For soup, I had Guinness Stew. The Stew was excellent, I love soup in general, but this was very, very, good. It had a light broth and was packed with meat and potatoes and carrots and pearl onions and carrots. I enjoyed every drop of that.

The Chicken & Leek Pasty was very nice, as well. I was disappointed by the presentation of the dish, though. For some reason, they thought it would be better with some shredded Colby Jack cheese on top, which offended not only my eyes, but my palate as well. Also, there was a sauce ladled over top of the pasty, making it kind of soggy. In England, a pasty is a handheld dish, almost like a sealed taco. I would have preferred the Royal Mile to have not used the sauce and cheese. It’s not that it was bad, it just deterred from the final dish. The chicken was very moist on the inside and in general, the dish was excellent.

Next was the Steak & Guinness Pie. Again, they poured sauce over the top and used bagged shredded cheese on top. The crust was a bit underdone, which I don’t particularly care for. Chewing a wad of dough is not my idea of culinary nirvana. The innards of the pie were excellent, though. Generous portions of steak and potatoes and onions and who knows what else. It was incredibly flavorful and I quite liked it.

I sampled some of the Bangers & Mash from Ma, and they were rather boring, honestly. The sausage or banger was well seasoned and quite nice, but a tad dry. The potatoes were good, too, and evidently made on-site, but were cold at serving. This dish, unlike the pasty or the pie, could have used the sauce on top. In London, I’ve never seen a banger without some kind of sauce or gravy on top.

Jessica said that her sandwich was a bit bland, but aren’t most sandwiches?

Even though each dish had it’s minor imperfections, each was quite delicious, and I would be happy to have them again. When I go back, I think I’ll have the roasted chicken — I always like chicken.

In the end, I would rate the Royal Mile ★★★✫/★★★★★ (3.5/5)

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