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Hot first dates and good-time drinks in Joburg: The Royale – reviewed

The Royale in Craighall Park offers a great night out – guaranteed! It’s buzzing, loud and wonderfully over the top.

Fast facts

Food type: The Americas, modern, light meals
Parking: On the street
Average price per main: R115
Star ratings: Food 4; service 3; ambience 5

Come thirsty, we’ll wash your cares away.

A post shared by The Royale (@theroyalesa) on

Best for

Fun first dates, dinner with friends and laid-back lunches.

Food

It’s a Cuban-inspired bar and eatery with the ‘Havana’ being most evident in the setting and décor. The food offering is fun and fuss-free, inexpensive and unpretentious. You’ll find an eclectic mix of burgers, sandwiches, ceviches and even curry (it’s Cuban-inspired rather than truly Cuban). Think zesty and tangy, full of citrus and spice.

The menu is divided into bar snacks and mains. From the snack offering the crispy fried chicken bites are great – tender deep-fried nuggets covered in a squeeze of tangy home-made mayo – and the cheesy fries covered in melted cheese and sliced jalapeños will cure any hangover. The empanadas, which are three mini beef-and-onion pastries served with a sweet chutney, are perfect for sharing.

What the weekend tastes like. Juicy pork belly, crackling and fresh Cuban slaw.

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Favourites from the mains include the crispy salt-and-pepper squid with a papaya chilli dip (simple and scrumptious), and the mojo rubbed pork roast (slow-cooked and sticky with orange basting), which proves to be finger-licking-good alongside the fresh and crunchy mayo-free slaw. Also delicious are the aromatic and creamy island prawn curry, served with sofrito rice; the simple burger; and the Cuban sandwich or Cubano, a spin on the classic ham-and-cheese sandwich, finished with pickles and sweet mustard.

For dessert opt for the scoop of the month from Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream or the almond waffle with rum and sticky caramel.

Drinks

A great selection of rum-based and classic cocktails packs a punch but is easy on the wallet. Try the Old Cuban, a delicious mix of Bacardi, lime, mint and Martini Prosecco; a Bloody Mary; or, if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, a classic Negroni. Wine offerings are cheap and cheerful, including Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel brut and rosé MCC – fantastic value!

Service

It’s cool and casual. With The Royale being seriously busy most nights of the week, service can be on the slow side, but management is always around to help when necessary.

Ambience

The main attraction at The Royale, the décor, is just fabulous. The venue is covered in potted palms, elephant ears and hanging baskets burgeoning in ferns. The wallpapers echo the tropical feel and are ornamented in loud neon signs. A gorgeous feature is the central bar, and the exterior courtyard is magical on summer evenings. The Royale also has a little island bar tucked around the back corner for after-dinner mischief. It’s loud, it’s flamboyant and people are encouraged to have a blast, so it’s not the spot for a very intimate conversation.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy.  

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