WHEN my family and I arrived at The Royal on Sunday evening, the place was awash with Dockers fans.
They were in good mood after beating Hawthorn 96-81 at the Optus Stadium, and the East Perth eatery had a lively feel-good buzz.
But it wasn’t just a macho love-in with men enjoying a simian embrace, and there were plenty of families celebrating the win as well.
The massive waterfront alfresco has gorgeous views of the LED-lit pedestrian bridge and glimpses of the UFO-like stadium, but it was getting a bit nippy so we opted for the plush dining area inside.
The maître de was pleasant, chaperoning us to our table with a carafe of water.
The menu had share plates, pizza, mains and a few sides, but there wasn’t enough variety and it needed more dishes in-between the heavier fare and the shares.
After seeing a waitress walk by with a parmi and chips bigger than Matthew Pavlich’s head, my wife and I decided to share some spiced calamari ($21), cauliflower and cheese fritters ($18) and a charcuterie board ($29).
The service was polite and efficient and it wasn’t long before the waitress was back with our meal.
On a chilly night the cauliflower and cheese fritters were the standout – superior comfort food with a moreish gooey filling and a delightfully spicy tomato chutney. This dish was super addictive and very tasty.
The fritters were closely followed by the spiced calamari, which was deliciously light and tasted great with a liberal squeeze of lime.
They were so tasty I didn’t need to bother with the little tub of lemon aioli.
The charcuterie board didn’t quite hit the same heights, but it did have a nice range of pickled veggies including onion, capsicum, carrot and cauliflower.
The dainty slices of toasted ciabatta and shaved deli meats went well with the piquant olives, but the board really needed some cheese to bring it all together.
I noticed there was a seperate cheese board and it would be good if they combined the two dishes into a well-balanced whole.
On the other side of the table, the kids were enjoying a Hawaiian pizza ($15) from the childrens menu.
This was the real deal with a thin base, Parma ham and stringy mozzarella cheese. I had a sneaky taste and can confirm it was top notch with rustic chunks of pineapple and loads of flavour.
I hadn’t been down to Claisebrook Cove in a long time – last time I was there Polly Farmer had just bought his first VCR – and I was impressed by the multicoloured lights in the underpass and the various art installations dotted around the quay.
The Royal is a good bet for a pub meal in a fantastic locale, but maybe they could look into expanding the menu.
If they do that, it might even make Ross Lyon smile.
The Royal on the Waterfront
60 Royal St, East Perth
by STEPHEN POLLOCK