The Royal Scam
It is a challenge to find fresh veggies, not-fried fish, and healthier options while traveling in some of the south USA. I am guessing it is more of a challenge being a vegetarian and traveling where I travel. Actually, I know it is tough to find nutritious foods for the self-imposed vegetarian and the religious vegetarian with whom I travel. One trip, there was only one place to out eat, and they ended up getting a "veggie sandwich" made special for them and fries. The sandwich included one leaf of iceberg lettuce, and a slice of mealy tomato on a generic hamburger bun. There was another town and restaurant where all of the side items had meat mixed into it, including the slaw and green beans. While on travel, I will eat anything, but I crave fresh vegetables because sometimes they are so hard to get.
As we traveled to Mobile, AL, the city was getting ready for Mardi Gras, as Mobile is the home of the original Mardi Gras (not New Orleans). The last time I was in Mobile, I was only informed about the touristy fried fish places with no veggie in sight except for the fries. This time, I was told about a comfortable hole-in-the-wall called The Royal Scam. The Royal Scam is a small restaurant and bar located on the corner of Royal and Government streets. The brick interior, and dark wood on the bar makes it feel like this place has been around for 30 years. The variety of food available at this place will be able to satisfy meat eaters, veggie eaters, and non-fried food eaters alike. There are really big fresh salads for $6 including a green mix salad and an Asian slaw salad. One veggie eater got the Asian slaw salad and supplemented the meal with fries on the side just to make sure that there was enough calories and satisfy the daily requirements. To our happy surprise, the salad was overflowing the plate, it had a nice toasted sesame and sriracha hot sauce, the noodles and cabbage were a nice mix, and it was certainly more than enough for a decent meal. The fries were good, but completely unnecessary to fill the calorie requirements for the day. Also, special orders to make dishes veggie friendly were not a problem for this cute bistro.
Others including myself, were craving un-fried fish and veggies. The tuna tartare was beautifully served in a martini glass with lettuce and wasbi sauce. The grilled fish tacos were piled high with fresh cabbage, and there was nothing deep fried about it. From the bar, the dirty martini was a thing of perfection.
The Royal Scam is close to many of the downtown hotels, so from most hotels it is less than a block walk. But, I don't think this place is set up for just tourists. The vibe I get from this place is that there are locals eating and drinking here right after work, and before they commute home. I think there are some regulars that belly-up to the bar for a decent meal and chat with bartender before calling it a night.
Another thing we all noticed about this restaurant and bar, was the no smoking policy. I imagine at one time, because of the bar, there used to be smoking in this place, just like ever other restaurant in Alabama that I have been in in the past decade. Parts of the south including TN, KY and AL have been slow to adopt no smoking rules in restaurants, and Alabama was one of the last holdouts for that. We all sat there enjoying our fresh meals in a smoke free environment when we noticed that we spent an evening breathing well with no smoking. I wonder if it is just this restaurants policy, a Mobile city ordinance, or a state-wide rule. None of us knew because we are not from Alabama. But, we certainly enjoyed ourselves as we breathed easy at The Royal Scam.
Labels: Alabama Eats