Got the chance last night to try the pub grub at this bar located on Passyunk just north of Washington in South Philly.
I had heard that the owners had modeled it on Standard Tap, but I was surprised by the extent of the similarity. The menu is larger at Royal Tavern, ranging from burgers and fries to mussels to chicken sandwiches and steamed vegetable dumplings (the "one of these things is not like the other" item on the menu). Specials were up on chalkboards on the wall.
The beer selection was decent, with Yards ESA & Victory Hop Devil (the Philly area's two best beers), and Beamish Stout on tap and several respectable bottles. I chose the Yards for $4; my companion had a glass of Argentinean Malbec for $6.50.
I had a brisket sandwich with monterey jack cheese and carmelized onions, which came with fries and a ramekin of garlic aioli ($8.50). This was quite tasty. The meat was very tender, tasty, and saucy, but the roll (a kaiser, I think) did a good job of absorbing the jus without sogging completely through. The jack was a well-chosen complement to the brisket. The fries were OK.
My companion's grilled chicken sandwich ($9) with roasted peppers (he had them leave off the manchego cheese and carmelized onions, god knows why) was tasty, though the sesame-seeded baguette slice it was wrapped in was altogether too much bread, and too dry, according to him.
Our service was decent but nothing to write home about. The crowd seemed to be 20-and-30somethings with a bohemian bent. The atmosphere was cool -- dim lighting, lots of wood, and some antiquey hunting-lodge signs on the wall. A good (and loud) jukebox, though less eclectic than Standard Tap's. I got the feeling that the decoration has not been completed, as there are vast expanses of plain, salmon-painted wall. The tin ceiling is a great touch.
Altogether, when held up side-by-side with the Tap, Royal Tavern doesn't quite measure up, but that's not to say it's not a great find in that neighborhood for aficionados of pub food. I'll return.
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