There’s been a little shift recently behind the scenes at downtown Vancouver’s Royal Dinette, and it’s not just the explosion of vibrant springtime ingredients that have taken the award-winning restaurant into its next chapter.
Moving up from a sous chef post is new Executive Chef Alden Ong, who has shaken up the menu at the sustainability-focused and seasonally-driven restaurant.
Ong has brought a playful vibe to the menu, which now includes dishes that further stretch the creative boundaries. Octopus, a super on trend ingredient that seems de rigueur to put on the menu these days, is served smoked and chili glazed with crispy chunks of potato for a nice textural contrast, and a creamy sauce inspired by the flavours of Laksa, the coconut and chili-tinged noodle soup.
You’ll still find the freshly made pasta dishes that Royal Dinette has come to be known for. Right now they are putting out a sultry tagliatelle, where the ribbons of tender pasta are slick with a biting ragu of pork inspired by the fiery flavours of mapo tofu, complete with the zip of Szechuan peppercorns.
Since Royal Dinette is all about maximizing what’s local and what’s at its peak–or, preserving the bounty to dole out later–diners can tuck into clever dishes like a dry-aged duck studded with the deep rich tang of preserved berries, and the gentle sweetness of roasted carrots.
Kick off your meal with lighter bites that just slightly twist conventional dishes on their ear; rather than, say, standard hummus and pita, you can swipe a crunchy chunk of chicharon into a thick hummus of celeriac. Slather quivering burrata on a wedge of grilled sourdough to get your lunch or dinner started.
For libations, Kaitlyn Stewart’s bar program continues to delight and evolve. Some fresh takes for spring include concoctions like When Doves Cry (Pisco, Akvavit, Violette, Pressed Lemon, Bergamot, Cream & Orange Bitters) and Mas Que Nada (Coconut Oil Cachaça, Ancho Reyes, Sage Syrup, Pineapple, Pressed Lemon & Smoked Bitters).
When you pass by or take a seat at the bar, keep an eye on the many jars Stewart sets out like magician’s potions; she’s always infusing, developing, aging, or experimenting with something fresh and fun that will show up in your drink now, or later.
For those who manage to save room for dessert, the Smoked Honey is the bees’ knees. It’s like a wine and cheese course with the sweetness dialed up enough to pass for dessert. While you may raise your eyebrow at a dessert that features “aged cheese,” this one pulls it off gloriously; the cheese adds that note of funk that cuts the punch of the smoky honey and the fruity sweetness of the wine sorbet.
Royal Dinette’s menu has always been a study in changes, thanks to their commitment to working with local farmers and suppliers and honouring the seasons, and minimizing food waste. Ong’s touch is evident in some of the bolder bites you’ll see, offering a new perspective on a successful venture.
Royal Dinette is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2 pm, Happy Hour Monday through Friday 5 to 6 pm, and dinner Monday through Saturday 5 to 10 pm.
Address: 905 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver