It was the most boring Melbourne Cup in years.
Even the name of the winning horse “Twilight Payment” was dull and sounded like a Tina Turner album from the 1980s.
Thankfully when we arrived for dinner at RoyAl’s Chicken & Burgers, the small joint was pumping and I stopped feeling like Seabiscuit without a sugar cube.
There’s a RoyAl in Northbridge, but the city can be a bit feral after the race, so I took the family to its sister outlet in East Victoria Park.
I hadn’t been to the Albany Highway strip in years, and it’s come a long way with a diverse range of restaurants and cafes replacing a glut of budget noodle joints.
RoyAl’s is a small funky diner with bright street art and painted skateboards on the walls, including portraits of urban icons like Snoop Dogg.
As the thumping bass from the cafe speakers reverberated against the wall of my gut, my grey hair shimmered in the pendant lights and I felt like I was picking up my daughter from a school disco.
The menu had a nice range of beef and chicken burgers/wraps, wings, share plates and some standalone chicken dishes and milkshakes.
There was also a few specials like chilli con carne waffle fries, and a heap of chicken wings with iced tea for $20 on a Wednesday.
It’s very much in the mould of an American-style diner, which seems to be enjoying a resurgence in Perth right now.
Despite the hectic nature of the place – delivery drivers, takeaway customers and sit-in diners all doing a merry dance – the service was excellent and the young man behind the till was composed and smiling, cleaning our table straight away when we sat down.
The tenderloins in my jerk chicken ($16) had that beautiful chargrilled flavour with seared skin and a medley of dark, Caribbean spices.
The chook was great quality and there was loads of it, with a tub of coleslaw providing a cool and refreshing interlude to the dark, musty flavours.
The slaw wasn’t overloaded with mayonnaise and pepper, like many I’ve recently had.
Rounding off the the dish was a nice buttery cob of corn; it may have been on the small side for some but it was enough for me and a sweet epilogue to a very satisfying dish.
My wife wolfed down her Bernie Mac burger ($12) in record time and smiled in appreciation.
“The Angus beef patty is delicious and I love the creole remoulade, which separates it from other cheese burgers I’ve had,” she said.
“The lightly toasted bun is divine and the cheese, pickles and onion are well balanced. A top burger.”
The kids cheese burger with fries ($10) was great value, and the patty was the same high quality as the adult version.
RoyAl’s Chicken & Burgers has a great buzz about it and the food lived up to the lively atmosphere.
RoyAl’s Chicken and Burgers
Northbridge and East Victoria Park
by STEPHEN POLLOCK