“It’s like a diner from paintings of diners,” John told me as we stepped into Royal Dinette on Dunsmuir. Greeted by Manager Chen Wei-Lee, we took our seats at the window, watching the tail end of the after-work crowd rush to their buses or to the pub upstairs.
With its tiled floors, hard woods and soft, textured accents, fine wines and preserves on display, the space to me is like a French bistro you’d find on Manhattan’s Upper West Side -minus the stick of butter you feel you’ve ingested by the end of the meal.
The menu lacked staples that would be expected from a space with such decor (steak frites wasn’t anywhere to be seen) but Royal Dinette boasts a seasonal selection of goods from the garden, cured meats and artisanal breads along with the catch of the day and BC wines. It’s hearty without being hard on the heart.
We ordered the summer Tasting Menu (that will of course change with each season) and were presented with manageable and bite-size 8 course feast.
The Tasting Menus have 2 and 3 course options but we tried it all during our visit. We began with a gazpacho that had an island of icy cucumber and a dusting of black olive. It was the most creative presentation I’ve seen for this crisp, cool soup and I loved the melting cucumber that contrasting with the creamy tomato. It was one of my favourites of the night along with the Egg Yolk Trenette simply presented with smoked butter, parmesan, and summer truffles.
Foie Gras, Ling Cod (with perfectly, tenderly grilled octopus), sourdough, Beef Bavette, and a cheese course were also included. The meal ended with strawberries, jasmine tea parfait, and dehydrated sponge cake croutons that, when put together on my fork -and although completely deconstructed- tasted exactly like my Oma’s strawberry shortcake. It was a very pleasant way to end the meal.
Tasting menus can be accompanied by drink pairings and we did partake in a few, trusting our server’s recommendations which worked out beautifully — even if we were given different wines and we presented cases to each other about whose pairing worked better, each of us loyal to our own glasses.
Royal Dinette has a warm and sociable ambiance, the kind of place where you’d want to split a bottle of wine with friends while slurping back some fresh, house-made pasta or share a charcuterie board while telling stories about lessons learned on recent travels. We’ll definitely be back for another date night, and the latest seasonal Tasting Menu which is now posted online.