Best Healthy Brunch: The Royal Food and Drink
Contrary to popular belief, brunch need not be a guilt-laden gut-bomb. If you’re of a similar mindset, you’re in luck: The Royal Food and Drink has decreed brunch to be a healthy meal but not one bereft of decent alcoholic beverages. Perched up on the slopes of Namsan in Huam-dong, The Royal was opened earlier this year by Patrick Walsh and Bomi Jung, formerly of HBC’s DeEspresso Room, and it has quickly become a real neighborhood hotspot for all-day brunch, Tuesday through Sunday.
This reviewer schlepped in at the tail-end of the all-day brunch rush, around 5pm, to find an industrial chic interior lit comfortably by natural light. A disaffected model-type reluctantly removed her feet from my chair and sighed the sigh of several gin-tonics. Service at the Royal, in contrast, is friendly and welcoming, and throughout the meal there was a relaxed vibe around the place: friends of the owners popping by, the resident dog charmingly begging for some charity, and another dude dropping in with his own pup.
The atmosphere and food will feel familiar for those used to laidback brunches in American college towns. Pretense is virtually non-existent and there is a focus on taking the edge off last night. Plates at the Royal are very green. Not coincidentally, their Green Breakfast (KRW 10,000) helps you peel away some of the regret over that 3am kebab. True to its name, the plate is properly verdant: mushrooms with pesto, ample avocado, and other veggies on a bed of salad greens blessed by a runny egg on top. On the other hand, the Worker’s Breakfast (KRW 12,000) is meaty without being overly greasy. Bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs mingle, again, with salad greens and sautéed veggies. It’s a healthier take on the classic English fry-up.
The star dish here is the Guacamole Breakfast (KRW 9,000). Simple but satisfying, it’s a bagel overloaded with guacamole, one over-easy egg, bacon, and cheese. Something that could perhaps make at home but not with last night weighing on your shoulders. Another standout is the grilled salmon salad (KRW 15,000). A very well-cooked salmon filet mingles with pomegranate, avocado, and a smattering of quinoa on, again, more greens, with ever-loving lime slices. If there is one main criticism of the Royal’s main dishes, it is that perhaps that they go heavy on the salad greens thus making many of the items seem fairly similar.
Hearing the hair of the dog? Plump for the Royal’s mean Bloody Mary, requisitely spicy and acidic. Their pineapple margarita also packs the right kind of zing. If the idea of more booze doesn’t seem like a plan, the Royal has an interesting beet banana smoothie which is, true story, really quite smooth. In fact, the whole dining experience here aims not to cause any unpleasant ripples in one’s reality and definitely to reduce the ripples of one’s belly.
Yongsan-gu, Huam-dong, 406-58