Late Friday UPDATE: the sign in the door of Royal Mile says temporarily closed due to “electrical and mechanic problems” — hope they come back soon.
Apparently Mr. WC took matters into his own hands and demanded answers from the Royal Mile Pub owners — still unclear exactly when (or if) they will reopen, but information continues to trickle in thanks to Wheaton Calling. Mysterious “repairs”…we were going to try and eat at RM this weekend, and we will still stroll by to survey the scene. You never know.
Rumor has it (and I stress this is only a rumor, unsubstantiated, may not be true, etc.) that Gloria’s Island Hut may also be closed, at least temporarily. I drove by a week or so ago and all the windows were shuttered, but it was before noon on a weekend so I drew no conclusions at that time, but now one of my moles is suggesting they may be at least on hiatus until spring. I guess Caribbean food isn’t really winter cuisine, but then again, when the frost is on the pumpkin, a little jerk spice and goat curry can really hit the spot.
Sigh…now I want goat curry.
Does two make a trend? According to Arlo Guthrie, three is an organization and fifty is a movement. Two may not be a trend — I hope it doesn’t become a going-out-of-business organization, much less a movement! — and I hope both restaurants can come back by the spring; they both have unique ambience, and different food than all other Wheaton restaurants, and I will miss them if they’re really gone.
Is it 2012? Yes. Really? I guess. Am I alive? Evidently. Blogging? Maybe. Posting may remain light for a while. Then again, who knows?
Among the interesting developments I have been ignoring is the possible demise (possibly temporary) of Wheaton’s Royal Mile Pub, ably reported in evolving installments by Wheaton Calling. True? False? Mismanagement? Bad economy? Not enough room in this town for two Scots-Irish pubs, pardner? Rhetorical questions? I can has cheezburger?
Also, Dan Reed over at Just Up The Pike today published an excellent discussion of where Wheaton may or should be headed. Dan knows more about this stuff than I ever will (I think he must read a lot or something), so I will just say read the whole thing, and add that my personal vision of a future Wheaton is not necessarily “like” Adams Morgan, or Bethesda, or Clarendon, or anywhere else (and this does not necessarily contradict anything Dan wrote) — it would be nice to keep on being Wheaton, maybe only slightly less feral, just with taller buildings and more people and more cool stuff to eat and buy and do. Also maybe fewer pawn shops. My vision does not involve pawn shops.
I did not know until today that Royal Mile offers full Scottish and Irish breakfasts: platefuls of toast, potatoes, tomatoes, sausage, Rasher bacon, eggs, and (Scottish breakfast only) haggis. No beans, but one can’t have everything. I wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with haggis so I got the Irish breakfast, very tasty all around, I hadn’t had this kind of spread since our vacation to Koh Samui almost four years ago when we stayed at the English-expat-run Secret Garden and had full English breakfast every day. A plate full o’ happy.
Mrs. Me had the burger as usual. The food took a long time to arrive despite the restaurant being mostly empty — RM cooks from scratch and it’s all worth the wait, but not a place to visit when in a hurry. Lazy autumn Saturday, not in hurry, good times.
There once was an Elkin Street pub… (I’ll have to give this more thought)
The Gazette joins the reportage party for Wheaton’s imminent Limerick Pub. Lots of good detail there, I love how the LP and the Royal Mile Pub seem to be working together for mutual benefit. We all will benefit, I think!
Also in today’s Gazette, Bethesda’s Bistro LaZeez. Mmm, tahini…
And in the Post, a neat article on nanobreweries, focusing on Rockville’s Baying Hound Aleworks, whose beer is about to be (or may be already) available at Royal Mile. Convergence! If they make a tahini beer then we will really have something.
Has the Royal Mile (2407 Price) gotten better over the years? We always liked it, but hadn’t been for a year or so, and dinner on Saturday was really good; I don’t remember liking it that much before. The burger was big, juicy, cheesy — a tad overcooked, medium instead of medium-rare, but that didn’t prevent the plate from being cleaned. The batter on the fish in the fish and chips is thick and crunchy, at least until it steams itself into paste on the plate, and the fish is fresh and moist, perfectly cooked. Chips are real potatoes, could be crisper but it’s hard not to become limp sitting under a pile of hot fried fish. We loved the appetizer special of andouille corn dogs — the sausage had a kick and the coating was thick, puffy and crisp, like the fish coating but with corn. Paired with two dipping sauces — one ketchup-based, one mustard — it was a delicious and surprisingly gourmet way to start a pub meal. Not sure it was particularly Scottish, but whatever. Royal Mile isn’t perfect, but the meal was excellent and we won’t wait so long to go back.
The main problem at RM is the tables are too close together, it gets kind of claustrophobic and difficult to maneuver. The dining room is just a rectangle and not a particularly big one, with a high ceiling, no booths, so it gets both crowded and noisy. We haven’t been for sea chanty night, I can’t even imagine…but they also have trivia nights, regular Thursday scotch tastings, an excellent happy hour (half price appetizers from 4-6). Good food, fun local place, must go back soon.
Nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning to the dulcet tones of neighbors scraping slush off their walkways. No worries, though — I rolled out of bed, into double layers, and joined the shoveling choir. We measured 21 inches here this morning (of snow, that is). It was a gorgeous snowscape until all the shoveling and turning to slush. Clearly, it’s a good weekend for a drink by the fire, and Wheaton’s Royal Mile was included in today’s Washington Post Magazine list of “Best bars with fireplaces in the D.C. Area” — a well-deserved mention. Good fireplace, good drinks, good food. McGinty’s in Silver Spring was the only other MoCo spot mentioned. I won’t be at Royal Mile tonight (spaghetti with red sauce accompanied by St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel is on tap here at Chez Me) but will surely cozy up to their fireplace sometime in the next few weeks.
Commenter Jeff noted apropos of this recent BGR post that Royal Mile also does a good burger (and accoutrements). I can’t disagree, although I haven’t had the RM burger lately, I have been focusing on other menu items (fish! chips! Scotch eggs!). I am comfortable saying the RM burger is not as good as the BGR burger — if it were, I would remember. That’s no slam on RM, which is clearly in the top tier of good Wheaton eatin’. It is simply a statement of BGR’s excellence (and not taking price, or fries or onion rings, into account).
I wanted especially to address the comment’s other point, which is that, alas, Royal Mile is open for lunch only Friday through Sunday. I have not done a survey of Wheaton restaurant weekday lunch hours, because I work in the District and so the point is moot for me. I remember Nava used to be closed for lunch on Wednesdays, in their old location. It would not surprise me if some other Wheaton spots were closed during the day, because it isn’t profitable, paying for electricity and labor without promise of many customers.
The point is that, every morning, there is a massive outflow of people going from Wheaton to DC or Silver Spring, and not many people coming to Wheaton (and many of those incoming are going to the mall). There has been much discussion about, and even some progress toward, the revitalization of downtown Wheaton; already we have new affordable housing above the Metro, and townhouses north of University. The focus (it seems to me), aside from abstract discussions about zoning, has been on affordable housing and also retail, and I’m totally down with that, but the real key to a successful downtown is creation of sufficient vertical office space to attract a major tenant, leading to a relationship like the one Silver Spring has with Discovery Channel. I’m not suggesting a building as big as the Discovery Channel building, but the same idea on a more Wheatonian scale. Then we would have lots of hungry office workers eating lunch and running errands in Wheaton, and places like Royal Mile might find it profitable to be open for lunch six or seven days a week. Balancing the inflow and outflow of people through the Wheaton Metro throughout the day will help us all in the long run.
Someone asked Sietsema in his WaPo chat yesterday about where to find Scottish food and specifically haggis in the DC area. The answer, of course, is in Wheaton, at the Royal Mile Pub, although I cannot vouch for the quality of their haggis. Their fish and chips are good, their scotch and beer selection is excellent, they have generally good food, and a fine pubby but not even remotely sportsbarry atmosphere. If you like haggis — I know nobody who falls into that category — or, I suppose, if you just want to try haggis, I’m sure you could do much worse than the Royal Mile. It’s a starter there, not an entree, so you wouldn’t be fully commiting. Plus it involves mashed potatoes and whisky gravy; how bad could that be?
The Royal Mile was also written up in the Wheaton Gazette this week because it is changing owners. The new owner, Michael Moore (no, not that Michael Moore) is a Wheaton resident, longtime Royal Mile fan, was already invested in the restaurant, and apparently plans to make few changes beyond continued pursuit of a rooftop deck expansion, which has in the past been zoned out, and would be a welcome addition. Wheaton needs more vertical space, especially commercial vertical space (as long as the space can be filled, anyway).
See also classic Robert Burns.