My friend Liz's parents were passing through town on their way back to Missouri last Friday night, having just completed a week-long bus tour of Pennsylvania. They invited us to dinner, and before I could pipe up with Chowhound-influenced restaurant suggestions I was informed that reservations for 7:30 had been made at Roy's. I quickly bit my tongue, not wanting to ruin the mood by passing on the negative posts recently littering this site, and braced myself for an dubious dining experience.
We were seated immediately after we walked in, as the immense dining area was at less than maximum capacity, especially for a Friday night. Before our chilly butts hit the comfortable booth, a shrill waitress in a garish tropical-print shirt declared, "Aloha! Welcome to Roy's!" and shoved our menus under our noses. We were a bit flabbergasted by her enthusiasm, and mumbled our thanks. We hadn't even had a chance to open the wine menu when she reappeared, pad in hand, asking what we would like to drink. We pleaded for a moment to decide. Another server came by with a basket of plain old rolls and a little tub of plain old butter to go with them. Very un-Hawaiian seeming. Every four minutes or so the waitress would reappear asking if we had decided on our drinks and entrees yet, flash her frosty smile at us, and skip away when we admitted we hadn't. We *still* hadn't decided when she came by the last time, but each of us just closed our eyes and jabbed at an item, hoping for the best.
Liz's parents each ordered the $30 prix fixe, which came with a Hawaiian Fusion appetizer sampler and the hot chocolate souffle, and a choice of entrees. Her father ordered the charboiled beef shortribs, which came with some sort of applesauce, which he said was pretty good. Her mom's Blackened Ahi Tuna with Soy Mustard sauce looked a little more than blackened. It looked burnt. She made no comment. Their appetizer sampler had a shrimp on a stick with wasabi cocktail sauce, a spiced baby back pork rib, and something that I didn't recognize. The portions of the app looked rather skimpy on the long white plate that they came on. It took them about four minutes to get through it.
Liz and I ordered a full size app of the same Szechuan Baby Back Ribs. 5 finger-size ribs stacked log-cabin style on the plate. They were inconsistent - some had a great sweet, smoky, deep flavor, others were cold, gristly and dry. Overall, we were not thrilled.
It was a bad sign of things to come when, as our entrees arrived, ("Aloha, are you done enjoying your appetizers?") we were too occupied by Mr. Jones' tale of a homecooked Amish breakfast they had enjoyed on their tour to notice our own dishes. Biscuits with gravy and scrapple were sounding really good as I surveyed the skimpy portions of my Shellfish Combo (Day Boat Scallops with Citrus Emulsion, Tiger Prawns with Apricot Cantaloupe Kaffir Lime Mint Viniagrette). Three skewered shrimp and three medium-sized scallops, with a bed of some really bitter, chewy greens in the middle. The multi-combo fruit sauce that came with the shrimp tasted like melted butter with cream and sugar. The shrimp was forgetable. The scallops were not, but only because they were so bitter from the surrounding greens and tasteless otherwise that I left one on the plate. It was literally a struggle to get them down my throat.
Liz's special of Giant Tiger Prawns ("4-6 pounds each! They look like lobster claws!" exclaimed our chirrupy waitress) was comical in its oversized appearance. The massive legs of the shrimp creeped us out as they sat their on her plate. "Eh" was her only comment. None of us wanted to be overly critical at the moment, trying not to spoil the mood, but silence can be its own condemnation.
Dessert for the parents was the signature flourless melting chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. Liz's dad licked the plate clean, but her mom left more than half untouched. This can be explained by the fact that Mom had agreed not to harp on Dad's cholesterol and blood sugar levels for the duration of the trip - I have a feeling you could have plopped a pile bitter gourd with a teaspoon of sugar on top in front of him and it would have disappeared. Liz had a watery looking mango apricot sorbet, and I tried a few bites of my white chocolate creme brulee with key lime before throwing down my spoon in exasperation. It was cold, too sweet, and overpowered by the cloying lime essence and the thick sugar layer. While we endured our desserts in silence, someone who I'm guessing was the manager (slicked back hair and a shiny suit) suddenly pounced on Liz and her mom, greasily asking if he could bring out anything for the ladies. Um, no thank you. He retreated into the crowd of tropical-shirts as we giggled uncomfortably and asked for the bill.
The Chowhound warnings rang true. A glorified Outback/TGI/Carraba's-style experience for double or triple the price. Stay away from this place, I beg of you.