I recently jumped at the chance to grab lunch at a new spot in Portland’s Old Port after finishing a nearby errand. Primo parking spot secured, I made my way into the brand-new Royale Lunch Bar, where I was greeted by a pair of welcoming, flannel shirt-clad gents who fielded my many questions and validated my decision to order the Bifteck sandwich.
Royale Lunch Bar is sort of tucked away on the stretch of Union Street that cuts between Commercial and Fore streets. It’s got a handful of tables and chairs and the space is warm and inviting with a bit of industrial flare from exposed brick; stained, wooden-planked walls, and a cement floor.
It just opened in April and I sure hope it, as they say, “makes it,” because Royale Lunch Bar has a lot to offer, including a solid breakfast menu, full-size meals with a smoked meat option, epic side dishes like poutine and vegan cauliflower mac and cheese, pickled offerings such as carrots, mushrooms and dilly beans, and a solid beer and wine list. Which reminds me, Royale Lunch Bar has a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. every day it’s open, and not only can you get a deal on beer and wine, every drink order comes with a free side of hand-cut fries. You can thank me later for this red-hot tip. Oh, and here’s one more tip to file away: If you need lunch on the run, Royale offers a daily “grab and go” sandwich special for $6.
Now let’s talk about that Bifteck sandwich. Reasonably priced at $8, it’s a glorious creation of thin-sliced marinated beef eye round, onion jam and American cheese served on a brioche bun with a few pickled carrots on the side for good measure. I rationalized the $3 side of house-cut fries by telling myself that if I’m going to have something as decadent as this sandwich, I may as well live my best life and get the fries too.
A few minutes later, I took the show on the road, and for the trip from the Old Port back to my office, the bag with my lunch rode in the trunk so I wouldn’t be tempted to tear into it before snapping a few photos.
Well, what can I say? The Bifteck sandwich was a glorious feast, a tantalizing symphony for my taste buds and a sublime moment of sandwich perfection. And here’s where I’m going to shock you, so be ready: I couldn’t eat the whole thing. And I ALWAYS eat the whole thing. But this thing was substantial and paired with those hand-cut fries, I couldn’t slay the beast, try as I did. But I ate most of it and savored every morsel. My only regret is that I wish I had a George Constanza-esque napping area beneath my desk to hide away in for a post-meal siesta.
Welcome to Portland, Royale Lunch Bar. Let’s be friends!