If you’re the kind of person who likes to stay in the know about restaurants, you’ve seen Royal Boucherie get a lot of press since it opened in 2017 - and it’s almost all good press. That’s likely because it’s from the people behind some of Philly’s best spots, like Royal Izakaya & Sushi, Laurel, and ITV. It’s likely not, however, because the food or service is especially exceptional.
It’s not that Royal Boucherie is bad, per se. In fact, there are some things we really like about it. It’s in Old City, and the main dining room feels like a pub where every cop character that Mark Wahlberg’s ever played would meet for a brooding reunion. If you come any time after 6pm, it will be dark, lively, and perfect for a first date. Sit at the bar, order a few glasses of wine and some charcuterie, and you’ll have a fun time.
The problem for us is the food. Some of it is pretty good, and if you know how to order, you can have a perfectly pleasant experience here. Much of the menu, however, is wholly unmemorable or, as one of our New York friends who thinks she’s better than us put it, “fine.” The menu is French-leaning, and includes raw bar staples like oysters and cured scallops. This is by far our favorite section of the menu, and you’ll be happy with pretty much anything you order from it. The small plates are also fine, if not totally exciting, but if you find yourself here on a date, you should share the escargot. And if the date is going well and you decide to stay for a full meal, the lobster garganelli is also worth your time.
There are a few dishes, however, that are more problematic, like the roast lamb. It’s one of the more expensive things on the menu ($32), and for all that money you essentially get a few bland pieces of lamb, topped with a slice of lamb belly that’s really just a grilled chunk of fat. Eating this will make you fantasize about the 99-cent pizza shop down the street, and how many pizzas you could buy with the money you spent on the lamb (approximately four full pizzas.)
Royal Boucherie is somewhere you should go for a glass of wine and a few snacks before your actual dinner. It shouldn’t be your main event. Unless, of course, you’re trying to expedite the date and skip right to the nightcap, in which case we suggest you have some oysters and leave us out of it.
This comes in a citrusy grapefruit sauce and we like it quite a bit.
The best option from the raw bar and a must order. It’s both light and warm.
One of the better starters, and a good shared plate for the table. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s a route we’d take again if we found ourselves back here.
Our favorite entree on the menu. If everything here was like this, we’d come back more often.
The lamb is well-cooked, but under-seasoned, and the lamb belly it comes with is 99% fat. Don’t waste your money on this.