Royale Eatery, inarguably Cape Town’s most revered burger joint, has a new house beer. Brewed by newcomers Citizen Brewery - a small start-up that has at least one of the eatery’s Berolsky brothers involved - Royale’s Amber Ale is a WYSIWYG amber; soft and sweet with an apricoty, light hop profile.
It’s a good beer to pair with Royale’s undercelebrated fish and vegetarian burgers, where its sweetness spars with the sour pickle of the Winks-Newman, or the fresh salmon-and-salsa combo of the Jenghis Khan. Lightness also means it can sit in the gut next to a big burger with little discomfort.
On the whole, it’s a welcome addition to the beer lists of both Royale and the fairy-light, wood-clad Waiting Room upstairs, glistening favourably next to the staling B&U oeuvre that has occupied half of the beer list space here for a while. That said, I was taken aback by the price - R35 a pint, half the price of a double Classic Royale.
That said, it’s good to see local craft here at last, even if the price leaves something somewhat unsavoury in the stomach. Luckily it’s still a good quaff, and seeing as this was seemingly only the second keg of this brew put on tap, hopefully a view of things to come from a Cape craft newcomer sneaking in the back door.
This might sound incredibly presumptive, but I would hedge a large bet that most young, unsheltered people in Cape Town have at the very least heard of Royale Eatery on Long Street. As such, I’m not going to ramble on too much about it, but for those of you who haven’t heard of it, consider this a decent recommendation.
Somewhere in between boho chic and eclectic café, Royale is unadulteratedly Cape Town. Even their menus are attractive. Known for their superlative burgers and milkshakes, Royale is a place where the food is morish, the waitresses pretty and the tables sought-after. During the afternoon and early evening it’s pretty relaxed, but come here at night and could be hard-pressed to find a table.
Luckily, on the third and fourth floors of Royale’s Long Street premises is The Waiting Room, a bar at which, well, you can get a drink and chill while waiting to get into Royale. It’s a beautiful spot in its own right - with a rooftop liberally swathed in fairy lights - and quality folk acts play there regularly.
The beer choice at Royale is better than most. They have the whole Brewers & Union range as well as a handful of beers from SAB. Interestingly, they offer Laurentina, a Mozambican beer made by SABMiller for which I have tepid feelings, and a Portuguese beer called Super Bock which, disappointingly, is neither a bock nor super. Despite a failure of nomenclature, it’s an OK beer. It has a decent malty backbone for a pale lager, but I think a lot of people might be disappointed in it, given its name.
Any bock-related disappointment, however, is swiftly mitigated by pure burgery pleasure. They are burgers that, in Royale’s words, “make your soul tingle and your dreams come true”. I agree. You can choose between normal fries, sweet potato fries, potato wedges or a mixture of two to accompany your burger (I usually get the sweet potato fries). All of the burgers I’ve tried so far - the Cosa Nostra, the Santori and the Baa Baa - have been delicious, but seeing as this was the first time I’ve come to Royale since I stopped eating mammals and concentrated rather on decimating our local fish population, I ordered something new: their Thai fish burger, which at R66 was entirely satisfying. They have over 50 burgers to choose from to suit any tastes or dietary preference.
Royale also do salads, pizzas and a few other things but, as any Royale regular will tell you, the burgers are where it’s at. They’re not cheap, but they’re certainly worth it.
For a pleasant meal with minimal fuss - and plenty of opportunity to people-watch - Royale Eatery’s a great pick, with good atmosphere and a great location in the middle of town to boot. Line your stomach before a big night on Long Street, or just relax with a beer and burger during the day. It’s all good.