It’s already pretty clear that 2016 is going to be a killer year for restaurant openings, and John Tesar’s new burger concept The Royale is easily one of the most exciting planned new additions. When the concept was announced back in August, The Royale didn’t have a set-in-stone opening timeline. Now, we’ve got more details on when the new burger spot is going to open, and what it will look like.
For The Royale, Tesar will partner with restaurateur Richard Ellman, whom he’s already working with at Oak, El Bolero, and the forthcoming Quill Lounge and Gravy 51°. The Royale, though, will be a completely different kind of burger restaurant, one that focuses as much on the dining experience as it does its perfectly-grilled patties.
You might think that a burger spot called The Royale would be a nod to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, but according to Ellman, the inspiration was a filmmaker on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Using the charmingly vintage aesthetic of director Wes Anderson, Ellman hopes to “transport diners to a totally different place.”
“Movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and Grand Budapest Hotel, they definitely transport you to a different place in a very quirky way,” he says. “There are so many restaurants right now being designed with that industrial look, and we wanted to go outside that box and create something fun.” To do that, Ellman and his partners paid close attention to points of visual interest that are frequently overlooked.
The Royale’s milkshake station is a perfect example of the quirkiness Ellman wanted to cultivate. “It’s not just about really cool shakes with amazing ingredients. It’s going to be more of a craft cocktail philosophy applied to milkshakes,” he says. “We have a space in the restaurant that is elevated, and that space is where the shakes will be made. It’s part of the show. It’s not just something that’s hidden or behind the scenes. It’s almost like a DJ booth, but it’s a shake station.”
Ellman is keeping pretty tight-lipped on the rest of the experiential elements of The Royale to ensure that his guests are totally surprised when they first walk in the door, but chef-partner John Tesar is just about ready to debut his menu. The burgers here won’t just be made from beef, but also Maine lobster, crab, bison, salmon, even quinoa. Most interestingly, though, Tesar will offer several takes on everyone’s favorite fancy drunk food – poutine.
In addition to “The Royale,” a relatively classic take on the Canadian dish made with beef cheek and cheese curds, Tesar’s got some pretty crazy poutine plans. He’s planning a Caesar salad poutine, complete with white anchovies and dressed romaine lettuce, and a version of “dirty fries” loaded with black pepper, sage and Benton’s bacon. Lobster poutine, Mexican poutine, and meatball-marinara poutine will also be on the menu. “This is poutine my way,” says Tesar.
The Royale is now scheduled for a February 2016 opening, which means that you won’t have to wait too long to determine whether or not putting Caesar salad in poutine is a travesty or the most wonderful thing on earth.