Behind the Menu | The Royce’s ‘polished gastropub’ fare comforting and delicious

Gary Seman Jr.
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
Beef short ribs served with braised vegetables over creamy grits and chow chow

When the Royce opened last July near Polaris Fashion Place, owner Walter Carpenter Jr. declared it a polished gastropub.

Although customers often laud the restaurant for being much more refined, Carpenter said he’s sticking to his original portrayal.

“We are still in that lane,” he said. “I think the guests look at us a little bit different. We’re a little polished and put our own little touches on things to make it our own.”

Take the Philly-stuffed beignets ($9), for example. Carpenter’s wife, Royce, is from Philadelphia, so he wanted to put an iconic dish from the city on the menu.

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“I wasn’t about to put a Philly steak sandwich on the menu but asked her: ‘What could I do that you’d like?’”

The result was shredded beef short ribs, onions and peppers mixed in the beignet batter and deep fried, with a rich beer-cheese sauce on the side along with some fried peppers.

Cornbread drop biscuits ($7) are a customer favorite. Offering whole corn kernels among the biscuit mix, the dish also offers honey butter and pepper jelly. With six biscuits per order, it’s the ultimate in sharing.

“It’s just delightful,” Carpenter said. “If there are five tables in the restaurant, four will have them on the table.”

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The Gulf shrimp BLT ($13) is one of those ultimate combination sandwiches: Creole-poached shrimp, smoky bacon, peppery arugula, juicy tomato and creamy bourbon remoulade on a brioche.

“It’s a hit,” Carpenter said. “People love that sandwich.”

The short ribs are put to use in another dish, where the unctuous and tender beef is served with braised vegetables over creamy grits and chow chow, a tangy Southern-style relish.

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Sea bass ($27) is pan-seared skin-side-down, for a crunchy textural element, and paired with couscous, grapes, roasted broccoli, grilled lemon and chamomile-accented yogurt.

“When it comes together and you eat it all together it eats very well,” Carpenter said.

There are a number of a la carte sides, from earthy wild mushroom risotto ($7) that’s firm on the tooth, and skillet green beans ($6) emboldened with garlic and red peppers.

Carpenter is using his mother’s recipe for peach cobbler ($6) that's crunchy with pie crust and smoothed out with vanilla bean ice cream.

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“Some people order it as their entrees so they’re assured they’ll get it,” he said.

He said there is a lot of competition in Polaris but so far, his restaurant stands out from the crowd.

As Carpenter put it: “I could not have picked a better location for my first restaurant.”

At a glance

Where: The Royce Gastropub

Location: 8791 Lyra Drive, near Polaris Fashion Place

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays

Contact: 614-468-1313,