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Roy’s, River North

by Krista

Roy's Menu

The other week, I was invited to one of my first big food media events in Chicago. I say food “media” because this wasn’t just a social media event. There were people from TELEVISION there. WGN. ABC-Chicago. The only event I can think of in my seven years of restaurant blogging where they’ve deigned to mix the new media and the old was the very large Heston Blumenthal for the Sherry Institute of Spain event that I attended ages ago in London. I remember the traditional media came in suits and stood up against the wall with notepads.  Us social media types came in jeans and t-shirts and took pictures of everything. I tried to talk to a few of the journalists but as soon as they heard me say “I have a restaurant blog,” they lost interest. All very awkward, really.

Another big difference between attending an event in London and attending an event in Chicago…THE CAMERA FLASHES. I have always defended bloggers as being people who know not to use flash in restaurants. It whites out the food and causes nasty plate glare. We, instead, invest in good cameras. (I personally would recommend the Canon S95 for those just starting out. It’s small and has a nice low-light setting.) Well, I’m going to take that all back blogosphere because I was nearly blinded by the flashes going off around me during my dinner. Again, all very awkward really.

Jumbo ShrimpWhile we waited for everyone to arrive at Roy’s, we were served Mai Tais and Cucumber Tom Collins’. (The cucumber Tom Collins’ being particularly good.) And huge fried shrimp. Roy’s, you should know, is a “Hawaiian fusion” restaurant. They have a new chef Rhett Dukes, from Texas. Rhett seems like a good guy. The type of guy you’d want to hang out with. He presented each dish in detail, and what I particularly liked is that he made each dish personal, even though it might have been something from the Roy repertoire. (Roy’s has 31 locations around the world.  But each has a good degree of independence.)

Lobster Dim SumLobster dim-sum is a Roy’s classic and it was hard not to like. I could see that these would be happy party pleasers.

Miso without the SoupThis is the before picture of the miso soup, without the soup. Rhett told a great story about how much his son loves this soup and hence the importance on the menu. Oddly, the broth was only approaching tepid when it was poured. I wanted to send it back, but that’s a hard thing to do during an event. I like the occasional gazpacho, but tepid soup is not easy to enjoy, especially when one is used to hot miso soup. I left most of this behind. Puzzling.

Roy's Combo PlateWe were served a combo plate of favorites from Roy’s menu. I really enjoyed the Butter Fish (cod) which had been marinated for days on end in a ginger wasabi sauce til it was almost unrecognizable. Good stuff. (That’s it right at the bottom of the photo.)

Baked HawaiiI also enjoyed the Baked Hawaii — a riff on baked Alaska. Ice cream, sorbet, cake, and espresso lava. Kitschy, but fun.

Lastly, I liked the beads they gave us all. (Pictured above with the menu.) I’ve actually started wearing this necklace around town. Score.

The Verdict: Roy’s seems like a fun place to hold a corporate event. Their private room was huge. I also liked the bar seating as you walk in — overlooking the kitchen, which is always fun for a solo diner. Roy’s does a brisk trade during conferences and events, and they’re particularly popular with the international crowd because of the uniqueness of their offering. But while I felt there were a few items to come back for — it would be nice to have a full order of the butter fish and more lobster dim sum — other food during the evening at Roy’s seemed a little uneven. Maybe that’s because they were trying to feed 35 people at the same time. Not sure.

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David Lauro (@wika2) August 10, 2011 - 2:49 pm

Review: Roy’s, River North http://bit.ly/pfBm8E

Natalia August 11, 2011 - 2:02 pm

You should have stopped by for a nightcap after your event. I live in that building 🙂

Krista August 12, 2011 - 9:08 am

Natalia I had no idea!! It’s been too long. We need another night out!!

Natalia August 12, 2011 - 11:46 am

Absolutely!!! I’d love to see you!! I’ll text you my new phone number later today 🙂

Jeff August 11, 2011 - 2:06 pm

three cheers for blogger events. 🙂

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