I’m ashamed to say it but Dave and I didn’t really want to go to Las Vegas.
We’re not into gambling and we didn’t think Sin City could be done on our relatively small budget of $100 a day. So we were going to skip it off our itinerary altogether.
But then the government shutdown happened and we were at a loose end. We looked at the map and decided to head to Utah via a route that would take us straight through Vegas.
If we didn’t have to make a detour to get there, we decided we may as well spend one night in the city of craziness.
Las Vegas was everything I thought it would be – over the top, cheesy and sleazy. There are men handing out cards on The Strip advertising hookers ‘direct to your room’… need I say more?
But we decided to splurge so rather than head to the casino we went and ate out at the highest recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor – Roy’s Restaurant.
Which also happened to be on the same street as our shabby $50-a-night-hotel.
Roy’s Restaurant is certainly more expensive than the kind of diner places we’ve been eating at since we’ve been in the US. But I would conclude that it was money well spent.
Service at Roy’s Restaurant
From the moment we arrived, we were treated well – the staff opened the door for us and we were greeted with big smiles.
The restaurant was busy but we booked a few hours earlier so managed to get a table for two.
The decor is classy with white table cloths and high ceilings.
The tables are well spaced so that even when the restaurant is busy it doesn’t feel as though you are sitting on top of one another.
The table next to us was a small wedding party and I could see why you’d want to have a reception here – it is probably one of the more classy venues in Vegas. Although I did find it a little strange that the bridal party chose to have their dinner in the main room of the restaurant rather than in a private section.
In true fine dining fashion, the staff pulled out our chairs to seat us and laid the fabric napkins over our laps.
I felt happy to be there. We’d been driving around the USA living in our van for the past four months so it was nice to experience some luxury.
Plus, we were beginning to lose faith in American food.
Where was the fine dining?!
Unlike in Australia, fine dining was hard to find. Rather, you easily find ‘juvenile’ food like hamburgers and chicken nuggets – fare that I guess the USA is known for around the world.
The food at Roy’s Restaurant
Roy’s Restaurant serves Hawaiian fusion food – something I’d never had before. Because of Hawaii’s location – halfway between the USA and Japan – Hawaiian cuisine is a mix of American and Japanese food.
The menu featured everything from steak (American) to sushi (Japanese).
There was also fish on the menu that our waitress told us was flown in every morning from Hawaii. I’m not sure how environmentally friendly it is to fly in fish every day!
After a lot of debate – we take our restaurant orders very seriously! – Dave and I decided to go with the price fixé menu. We thought this was good value because for 36.95 per person you could get three courses each. There were two choices for each course so Dave and I decided to get one of everything.
First course came extremely quickly which made me think that either the chefs were really on the ball or our spring rolls weren’t that fresh.
Fresh or not, the Kalbi Short Rib Spring Rolls were delicious. Eating them wrapped in bibb lettuce and dipped in slightly-spicy dragon sauce made them even more tasty. It was the classic fusion of Japanese and American – ribs mixed with spring rolls – who would’ve thought!
Our other starter – the Baby Greens Salad – was equally delightful. Although an extremely simple salad of just greens and peaches, it was seasoned with a light and tangy sesame lemon vinaigrette. I’d never tasted salad dressing like that before and would love the recipe.
It really brought this dish up from ordinary to exceptional.
For our main dishes we shared a filet mignon and a seared pesto Mahi Mahi fish.
The mains were unfortunately the most underwhelming part of the meal.
My filet mignon, although cooked medium to well-done as I like it, wasn’t very ‘flavourful’ as the Americans would call it. The vegetables served with the dish, especially the baby carrots, had been roasted in some sort of honey flavour that I enjoyed more than the filet mignon itself.
The fish dish was a little bland although once again the corn pudding and Japanese eggplant that accompanied it was unlike anything I’d tasted before. The corn and eggplant textures complimented each other and gave off a warming scent.
The desserts were the highlights for me.
I hadn’t eaten macadamia nuts for years – probably since I was in Australia – so I was delighted to find a Macadamia Nut Crémeux on the price fixé menu.
Served with blueberry compote, the flavours were both sweet and bitter at once. The dish came with a white chocolate cookie and the this crunchy texture along with the creaminess of the dish went well together.
Our second dessert was Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé and even though it was extremely rich, the vanilla ice cream it was served with – although not especially different from many desserts – went well with the Belgian chocolate. It was also served with rasberry coulis – yet again not very original but nonetheless delicious.
As I dipped my spoon into the dessert it melted into a gooey mess on my plate – delightful.
The drinks at Roy’s Restaurant
Even though we’d decided to splurge for this meal, we didn’t want to spend an extortionate amount on alcohol. And at around $15 a cocktail, having two drinks each and we were paying the same amount of money on our food.
However, Roy’s don’t scrimp on the alcohol portions within the cocktails. Both of ours were deliciously strong.
I went for Roy’s Hawaiian Martini which is the restaurant’s signature cocktail. Although I’m not normally a fan of coconut, the Malibu in the cocktail wasn’t too strong and instead the pineapple flavour was more present.
Dave had the Island Mai Tai which is also one of Roy’s special cocktails. His cocktail was even more potent than mine and one glass of it certainly got me tipsy.
Overall thoughts on Roy’s Restaurant
Roy’s is certainly a place I would return to. For both our three course meals, including two cocktails and a tip, it came to $125 which I thought was well worth the fine dining experience.
I was surprised to learn that it is actually a chain restaurant with quite a few locations around the USA. It certainly doesn’t have the typical ‘chain’ feel you get with other franchised restaurants.
Next time I’d like to try more of the fish to see whether it has more flavour than the bland Mahi Mahi fish I had on the price fixé menu.
My only annoyance of the dining experience is that the air conditioning was on too high and even though I’d got dressed up in the one ‘going out’ dress I have for life on the road it was too cold to take my cardigan off!
I asked the waitress to adjust the temperature and although for awhile it did get warmer, I was soon shivering again.
What you need to know:
Location: Roy’s Restaurant is located at 620 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. There is ample free parking outside.
Reservations: We went on a Friday night and the restaurant seemed near-capacity so I would recommend booking. There’s a bar adjacent to the dining area though where you could have a few drinks while you waited for a table.
Price: The appetizers range from $7.95 to $26.95. The mains are between $23.95 and $33.95. The desserts cost around $10.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 5:30pm–9:30pm
Aloha Hour (Happy Hour): Every Night 4:30pm-6:30pm