From lamb of the day to deep-fried Oreos, the food at the recently opened Royal in Watertown reflects chef/owner Rachid Kourda’s melting-pot background as a Tunisian-born, French-trained, experienced-in-America entrepreneur. Like any good entrepreneur, he’s already adjusting to market forces by no longer opening for breakfast on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and by working toward obtaining a liquor license.
Located just outside Watertown Square on Lexington Street, Royal is Kourda’s first restaurant. Serving everything from weekend brunch to lunch and dinner, he’s happily ensconced in what he calls his “freestyle kitchen.”
“I do not do classic dishes,” he says, adding that he enjoys incorporating whatever ingredient is on trend and featuring daily specials at each meal. Recent specials have included osso bucco pork shank “with a very silky potato purée,” tuna with lime chimichurri, lamb kofta with harissa aioli and, at lunch, duck confit on challah bread.
As for those Oreos, which are served gratis to children, he explains: “I batter them with house-made tempura batter, and I top them with candied cashews, vanilla ice cream and bananas.… Sometimes I put white chocolate on top of it.”
Out in Needham, Sweet Basil chef/owner Dave Becker is cooking up yet another project. Spoon + Fork, his new “umbrella corporation,” is licensing and packaging products from Sweet Basil (and Wellesley sister restaurant Juniper) for retail sale. With a giant extruder producing 35 pounds of pasta per hour in Sweet Basil’s basement, Becker says going retail was the only sensible thing to do. So far, you can buy pesto and pastas “handmade in Needham” at Moody’s in Waltham and Wasik’s Cheese Shop in Wellesley. Soon, he’ll add an “old school-style refrigerator” at Juniper to display all the Middle Eastern-style dips as well.