Yesterday (September 7) was my five year wedding anniversary. Usually, my wife and I take a trip somewhere out of town for this occasion, but this year we decided to stay in town during our vacation with no plans in particular other than that we would eat dinner at a nice restaurant on the actual day of our anniversary. This is no small feat mind you as my wife suffers from celiac disease aka gluten-intolerance. Essentially, this means she cannot eat anything derived from wheat, rye, barley, or oats (usually) without getting really sick in her digestive system for days. So if you think about how much food out there involves bread, pasta, or just seasonings that involve wheat as a filler product, then you can start to imagine how annoying and hard it is to find places where we can safely eat worry free. Fortunately, there are more and more places that are gluten aware and a few that even offer gluten-free menus, but even then we have to worry about whether the staff is truly well-informed because we have often encountered staff who prepare a salad with croûtons and simply scoop them off when they see the note about gluten-free food thinking that this will suffice when it will not.
Over the last few years since her diagnosis, our restaurant choices have been pretty narrow as it’s such a pain to feel out a new place for safety and suitability, but in the last year we have had a new resource to turn to for guidance in the shape of the Atlanta Gluten Free Dining club. People share reviews there of places where they have successfully enjoyed gluten-free meals. So with our anniversary rapidly approaching and wishing to try someplace different, we consulted the group’s forum and found a few options including the one that we eventually settled upon: Roy’s.
We made reservations for 7pm on Friday night, and as directed on the forum, I informed the staff in advance that my wife would require gluten free dining. We found it interesting that this Roy’s location was unassumingly tucked away on the bottom floor of a several stories corporate building in a Buckhead business complex instead of prominently parading in the sea of commerce in the surrounding area. A nice valet met us when we left our blue Honda Fit and then we proceeded into the restaurant itself where we were greeted with the pleasant ambiance of a live pianist and a tastefully decorated establishment decked out in pleasing shades of orange and purple that went together nicely with my wife’s dress. It seemed almost as if she had scoped out the place in advance before deciding what she would wear that evening, but she denies this.
When we sat at our table we found a special touch in that our menus had been custom prepared with a nice message congratulating us on five years of marriage. It was nice to see that they had done something with the information that I provided when they inquired on the phone whether this visit was for a special occasion. Our friendly waiter Paul arrived and brought out a serving of edamame to start our evening which is an excellent alternative to the traditional bread found at many restaurants. I say this not only in light of my wife’s not being able to eat bread, but also because I often find that when I get to a restaurant I am hungry and so eat too much bread and then cannot truly savor the main course or find room for dessert. The edamame was nice in that it helped to soothe and encourage the appetite while not being particularly filling either. They were also particularly tasty with a special blend of seasoning and sugar that our waiter suggests goes well on French fries as well. We were given two complimentary samples of the seasoning and perhaps one evening we shall try it out on some freshly prepared sweet potato fries!
Next came our appetizer. We selected a serving of prosciutto wrapped tiger shrimp served on a layer of grits prepared in some delicious sauce that escapes my recollection. We each had a pair of shrimp and they were very delicious. The grits sauce was nice, too, but I preferred to simply savor the shrimp and prosciutto naked while Melinda cleaned up the sauce with her shrimp. It was what I call a perfect appetizer in that it was satisfying but not over-filling. Notice a common theme here. I am constantly finding myself absolutely stuffed half-way through the main meal or at the start of dessert, and this always pains me because I love trying desserts when I go some place new. And Roy’s has a reputation for an excellent dessert specialty that I did not wish to miss. More on that later.
Our meals arrived shortly after we finished the appetizers. Roy’s is famous for their seafood entrées although from what I can tell they have wonderful landlubber meals as well. Still, the hands down favorite of guests who frequent the restaurant is Roy’s Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish, and I can see why. This dish was truly heaven on a plate. It came out exquisitely presented on a pilaf of rice with lovely green, thinly sliced cucumber garnish and a small topping of bright red caviar. As pretty as the dish was, it was simply divine to eat. Very smooth and rich with an almost velvety creaminess to it, but with a light finish that doesn’t overpower or linger too long so that subsequent bites are just as wonderful as the first. The sauce pooling at the bottom helped spread the flavor to the rice and made it all too easy to finish this meal quickly down to the last bite.
Melinda unfortunately could not enjoy the butterfish because it is prepared with soy sauce, and almost all brands of soy sauce have wheat as their second ingredient. Instead, she had the opportunity to try another excellent dish – the Crab and Potato Crusted Ono. I didn’t try it myself, but it sounded very good and looked very elegant in its presentation. Unlike the butterfish, this meal came out on a larger plate with two sauces pooled out in a pretty pattern much like one sees on some fancy desserts involving chocolate and raspberry syrups or sauces. Melinda enjoyed it very much.
With two fine meals behind us, we eagerly awaited the dessert: Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé. It was well worth the wait! It consists of a flourless chocolate cake with a molten hot center served à la mode. It combined just the right balance of subdued and rich flavors. We finished the dessert feeling extremely satisfied and yet were not ready to burst nor did we need to down a glass of water to cleanse the palate.
We had an excellent time at Roy’s and are already thinking of what we might try there on a second visit. We highly recommend it to friends and family. The ambiance is pleasant, the staff are friendly and courteous, the food is beautiful and delicious. I just hope that next time I will summon the strength to resist a second helping of the butterfish as I would really like to try Roy’s Duck served with a crispy confit and orange reduction. It sounds like something that I would truly relish!