Restaurants We Love: Pub Royale, Chicago
Nestled in a small row of restaurants and bars right at the southwest edge of Wicker Park, Pub Royale welcomes you with a bohemian entrance, clad with aged yellow doors and a striking hand painted sign. In warmer weather, you can find a buzz both inside and out, with an adjacent street side patio, and collapsible doors that extend into the interior of the restaurant.
As defined by the restaurant’s website, the approach to both décor and food is, “Anglo-Indian, eclectic, and convivial.” What, to me, looks like a set in a Wes Anderson movie, more Moroccan than Indian lights cast a warm amber glow over a row of booths on the west side of the restaurant. A mix of wood tones, exposed bricks, and dark upholstery, invite guests to linger and relax with one of Pub Royale’s many “Royale Cups,” updated takes on a Pimm’s Cup cocktail featuring locally crafted Letherbee liquors.
A shareable, and short menu, does not disappoint in flavor. Those “Anglo-Indian” flavors are highlighted with both traditional and contemporary takes on some classic Indian dishes, from Chicken Tikka and Cucumber Raita to Palak Paneer, and Samosas.
To start, go with the Salt Cod Samosa. While they do offer a more traditional take with peas and potatoes, the Salt Cod
Samosa hits your mouth with flavors reminiscent of fish & chips, but with a mouth feel of a potato croquette. Paired with the malt vinegar chutney, the samosa takes your taste buds on a trip overseas with a couple of stops along the way.
Hands down, the best dish on the menu is the Gobi Manchurian. Imagine if the best sweet and spicy chicken wing glaze was combined with cauliflower fritto misto, and finished with shaved cashew and sesame. A toothsomeness from the cauliflower gives way to the crunch of cashew, before marrying the sweet spiciness of the glaze, and a slight undertone of sesame. You will be encouraged to share, but it’s my opinion that you should order one plate per person. At $9.00 a plate, you are not going to break the bank.
To finish the meal, skip the doughnut (which is the only dessert offered), and order a Frozen Mango Lassi. This slightly sweet, yogurt-y, and rum-based concoction will hit your sweet tooth while letting you continue your buzz. Or forego dessert altogether and order another round of Gobi.
Make a reservation, the capacity, especially in the cooler months, is limited, and with the inviting environment, you will be hard pressed to walk in and grab a table even on a weeknight. What’s a little off the beaten path, is well worth the extra travel, and street parking is not hard to come by if you are driving. Come for a cocktail, stay for a samosa, and come back time and time again for the Gobi.