by James Garcia Jr.
On those nights when I want a nice dinner, there are few choices in Kingsburg. Although there are some great choices, most are family style. My wife and I recently had the pleasure of dining at a newer restaurant in town, open since 2008. The Royal and Ancient Grill is located north of town on the Golden State Highway, what locals refer to as Old 99. Back from the road, tucked between a car wash and veterinary clinic, it is not where one would expect to discover fine dining. If you are not looking for it, it is easy to miss as there is no sign to greet you until you get to the door.
Perhaps the most important aspect of locating a business in Kingsburg is its need to comply with the town’s Swedish theme. Inspired by the family’s love of golf — as well as Kingsburg’s own beautiful golf course — co-owners Yvonne Soares and her son, Chef Randy Soares, took their name from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, a relative neighbor of Sweden’s. The course at St. Andrews is one of the oldest and most prestigious in all of golf, and was the host for the British Open Championship this past July.
Inside the Royal and Ancient Grill, the ambiance is quaint and tranquil. The décor is minimal and aesthetically pleasing; light music and neat tables set the mood. According to Yvonne, the dishes and stemware were selected with the male guest in mind but don’t let that fool you. I would describe it as elegant with an old-world flair.
I have visited the restaurant twice now. The first time, I was craving a steak. I typically gravitate toward the Porterhouse or Rib Eye. I have always thought they had the best flavor. Many menus list the New York steak but I have never been all that enamored with it. However, when I saw the entrée on the Grill’s menu, I thought I would give their version a try. It was Grilled New York with Sautéed Linguica, Ham and Red Wine. It was served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. I ordered it medium because I like a pink center. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it was.
On our second visit, I chose Grilled Rib Eye with Garlic-Parsley Butter. I once again ordered it medium and was not disappointed. It was served with snow peas and a baked potato. Two varieties of thinly sliced bread were provided just as before. The salad is not included but is very good. Just like everything else in the restaurant, a lot of thought has been put into it. It seemed to be a spring mix, containing what appeared to be fresh home-grown tomatoes as well as raisins which I love in salad.
The highlight of that second outing came when I tried what my wife was having: Pan-Fried Chicken Breast with Italian Sausage-Mushroom Gravy. To me, chicken has always been secondary yet I was once told there is nothing better than chicken when it is cooked correctly and those words immediately leaped to mind upon my first bite of this fantastic dish. It was served with the same sides as my entrée but I will not be soon forgetting the flavor of that chicken. My wife laughed at me as I proceeded to devour the other half she had been unable to finish. The steaks are very, very good but I’ll be having the chicken on my next visit.
The building is small with a seating capacity of about 30 though its french doors open onto a patio that can seat many more. They serve a good selection of wines and the entrées range in price from $14 to $20. They do serve a hamburger so one can take the family but I would save this restaurant for a date night, as we did. Located at 1961 Simpson Street in Kingsburg, CA, the phone number for reservations is 559-897-2111. It is open Monday through Friday from 11:00am til 2:00pm for lunch and dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday from 5:00 to 8:00pm.