Todd Schulte has wasted little time making his newly opened Genessee Royale Bistro in the West Bottoms a destination spot. Schulte started as the Happy Soupeater, delivering hearty and tasty soups around the metro before opening Happy Gillis Cafe in Columbus Park. Like Happy Gillis, Genessee Royale Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch only, serving simple yet innovative fare.
Walking in the renovated gas station at 11:45 am on a Tuesday morning, we snagged the last table before a line started to form. The space is very appealing, with concrete floors, small tables scattered throughout, and a long counter the length of the room for eating or watching the servers do their thing. In warmer weather there are two garage doors which will open onto a patio for outdoor dining.
The menu is compact, but I wanted one of almost everything (ham salad is not going to pass these lips). We saw a cup of French onion soup go by, and a good-looking hamburger on a Wolferman’s English muffin. But the sandwiches sounded too good to pass up. The day’s special was a BLT with roasted tomatoes, garlic mayo on toasted bread, which was absolutely phenomenal. It debunked the myth that BLT’s should only be served in the summer when the tomatoes are straight from the garden. Up until I sank my teeth into Todd’s version, I believed it, but the roasted tomatoes were a sweet as candy and bursting with flavor. Genessee Royale’s corned beef sandwich is a fun and delicious riff on a Reuben. The sandwich is served warm on toasted bread, and layered with Gruyère, Brussel sprouts and grainy mustard. What a clever idea to replace the typical sauerkraut or cabbage with Brussel sprouts. And I’m not a huge fan of corned beef, preferring to eat it only as part of a hash dish or in a Reuben, but this corned beef wasn’t too salty or fatty, my usual complaints as far as that particular meat is concerned.
Splitting both sandwiches, I kept alternating, and never did decide which I preferred. Each mouthful was an explosion of complementary flavors and tastes, and I could easily order the same thing again tomorrow…and the next day.
GRB is also open for breakfast. The menu features several egg dishes, including corned beef hash and an egg and cheese sandwich, as well as coffee cake and fried chicken and biscuits. I’ve been told that I need to sample the breakfast potatoes, and I also want to try the bacon marmalade since that’s a new concept to me. Maybe the restaurant ought to try serving it with lettuce and those roasted tomatoes for another twist on the basic BLT.
In the summer when the sun shines on that outdoor patio, I suspect this may be one of the most popular lunch spots in town. Judging from the crowd on a winter day, perhaps it already is.
January 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm
I made my first visit to the R Bar Saturday night, and it won’t be my last. I loved the ambiance. While the exterior of the building is nondescript, a gorgeous, 37 foot bar runs the length of the narrow dining room, and piped-in 1940’s music sets the tone from the moment you walk in the door. Though Sean Moriarty, bartender-extraordinaire (previously of City Tavern) is in residence here, there’s more to the experience than a well-mixed cocktail. Alex Pope, former sous-chef at the American Restaurant, is in the kitchen, turning out creative and reasonably priced cuisine. All dinner entrees except the hangar steak are under $20.
We tried two appetizers, the most successful of which was the grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes and apple curry sauce. The other was a cassoulet slaw with chicken confit-I enjoyed the textures, but the color was one-dimensional.
Scallops atop a sweet potato tart and bacon lardons were outstanding, and the pork belly with smoked collards and crisp polenta was also a winner. My one beef with the menu is that it doesn’t offer many choices for vegetarians or non-meat eaters. No fish, and the one pasta was tossed in a rich cream sauce, which may not be to everyone’s liking. A funky little funnel cake is brought to the table after the server takes your order, but that’s the closest thing they have to bread service, which makes it difficult to mop up some of the chef’s savory sauces.
The R Bar is so named because owner Joy Jacobs found the Rexall Drug logo in a nearby salvage yard and decided it would be a perfect name and icon for the restaurant. It’s in the West Bottoms across from the Golden Ox, so it may not be top of mind when contemplating an evening out. But don’t let the location deter you, this is an area in the midst of a revival, and the R Bar is working hard to make its mark.
October 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm