First Look: Royal Jelly

Global meets glam

The short ribs (photo by John Anderson)

Royal Jelly is the latest entry to the evolving North Lamar nightlife scene, melding the food and drinks of an upscale gastropub with the relaxed feel of a neighborhood bar.

The multicolored bungalow jumps out at you as you make a short turn off Lamar. The modest patio in front gives way to a space featuring black, gray, and yellow floorboards and a cosmic spaceship mural on the far wall add to the flair. A few settees and cocktail tables are scattered here and there.

The new spot does not currently offer a full bar, but owners Dominic Mauro and Matt Walker (also the chef) have created a limited but diverse beer and wine cocktail menu. The Rosé slush adds blackberry and thyme to the iced wine – creating a contemporary take on the wine cooler. The Eastcider’s ginger-basil lemonade highlights several basic tastes. The citrus of the lemonade cuts through the dryness of the cider, and the ginger basil combination adds aromatics (the lemonade is also available zero proof). The chili powder sugar mix on the rim of the glass adds oomph. If you want something a little more savory, try the michelada verde, combining Bohemia with tomatillo and garnished with a chorizo-stuffed avocado. If you want something less composed, there are plenty of (mostly local) beers to choose from and a handful of wine options.

On the food side, Royal Jelly focuses on shareable plates. The globally-inspired menu travels from Germany (butternut squash spaetzle with cracklins) to Cuba (a classic take on the Cubano sandwich served with plantains) , circling back on Mexico (goat mole with salsa verde) and Thailand (tom kha mussels). Some dishes are a cross-cultural exchange, like the tamarind-glazed short ribs served with coconut cornbread and orange jicama slaw and the jerk quail with romesco, olives, and chorizo. For dessert, there’s a buttermilk pie, tweaked with champagne.

That’s at spirit with a bar that combines elements of glam (the fussy settees) and rock (the copy art menu features a collage that lifts elements of album covers). And it’s just one example of how neighborhood dive bars don’t necessarily have to be dives.

Royal Jelly
704 W. St. Johns, 512/765-4816
Sun.-Thu., 4-11pm; Fri-Sat., 4pm-12mid
Happy Hour: Mon.-Fri., 4-6pm, Sun. all day
www.royaljellyatx.com

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