Hours: Saturdays 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., other days 11 a.m. to midnight.
Price Range: Entrees from $6.50 to $16 with the majority around $7.
Atmosphere: The combination of buff-pink walls, chandeliers, linen tablecloths and tasteful prints makes you feel you have really gone out to dinner.
Special Facilities: Booster chairs; plenty of parking; call ahead for directions for handicapped persons; no children's menu, but management will arrange for smaller portions for the kids.
Credit Cards: American Express, Visa, Carte Blanche, Diner's Club.
Reservations: Not necessary during the week, but advisable on weekends.
Despite its setting in a grim and imperious office building, the Royal Arms can offer a pleasant evening with good food and efficient service.
The approach to the Royal Arms is a sea of cement and asphalt, but once inside, the diner is surrounded by soft lights and white linen. The menu is impeccable without being threatening. It's mostly in English, for one thing, but with a variety of "continental" offerings like wiener schnitzel and sauteed frog legs. There's steak for the less adventurous, too.
Where the family is concerned, this might be a place to hold in reserve for celebrating a straight A-report card or Mom's promotion.
We had a chance to sample two appetizers: redeye salmon with cucumber dressing, $3, and escargots with garlic butter and herbs, $3.50. The escargots could have been a bit more tender, but garlic and butter were delivered in fragrant quantity. The salmon was presented with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and a light, yogurt-flavored cucmber dressing. It made a lovely dish and the salmon left nothing to be desired.
Then there's the bread. In the remote case that none of the appetizers suits your fancy, just order an entree and soon the waitress will appear with the little wooden board. On the board will be a round, poppy-seed-topped loaf of warm bread. It's made on the premises and it shows. If your grandmother made bread, chances are it was like this ambrosial stuff.
The salad bar, also offered with dinner, is several cuts above the ordinary limp lettuce and soggy garbanzo bean litany. Several kinds of greens were available, along with an assortment of lovely marinated vegetables.
The imaginative entree side of the menu hints at the presence of a European chef in the kitchen. Dishes like duckling flamed with calvados and chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms and encased in pastry are two examples of the evidence.
We tried veal with Romanella sauce, $7.50. It consisted of two veal scallops breaded, sauteed and topped with mozzarella. Green pasta is served on the side and the whole thing is capped with tomato sauce. Though the veal was a little too brown, the dish was well-executed otherwise. The pasta was properly al dente.
The chicken kiev was a total success, including the initial tour de force of spurting butter. The dish should carry a warning to diners to protect clothing because, properly made, pools of melted butter are trapped inside a rolled, breaded and sauteed chicken breast to be released with the first fork probe. The chicken was cooked to a turn -- just barely done and still juicy. It was served on a bed of white and wild rice.
Filet of beef Wellington, $8.50, was also satisfactory. The only thing that kept it from being a raving success was the prominent flavor of bacon fat. tBeef Wellington is a piece of filet spread with liver pate and enclosed in a pastry crust. The Royal Arms' version was served with gravy. The pastry crust was airy, as it should be, and the filet tender and flavorful.
A word about service is in order here, since the waitress (who served the entire room) was one of that rare breed who can manage to be always available without meddling. She gave special attention to the children.
The Royal Arms dessert list features several fruit concoctions such as cherries jubilee and pear helene, the latter of which we had the opportunity to sample. It was made with good honest ingredients, including vanilla ice cream, a pear half, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. All under $2, the desserts look like a bargain.
We left the Royal Arms feeling well-fed and pampered and prepared for the windswept walk to the parking lot. Our total bill was $42.44 for three people, including tax and tip.