In early January, when rumors of the closing surfaced, fans of the popular Wheaton establishment took to the web (including on ) to express their disappointment and sadness, share their memories and even offer to assist financially.
Fast forward to early March, when workers were spotted painting and redecorating and a sign appeared in the window, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes the Royal Mile Pub would return, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
With a new owner, a new head chef and a new business plan, would the latest incarnation of the Royal Mile Pub succeed?
“My father [Sunial Maximus] is a businessman – he owned the Montgomery Royal Theatre at Westfield Wheaton – so the Royal Mile Pub was meant to be for our family,” said Sunial’s son Roshan Martinus. “We have pared down the menu and made some staffing changes to establish a base for success,” he continued. “Everything we do is to make sure that what happened before [the Pub closing] doesn’t happen again.”
When the Royal Mile re-opened on March 16th, the menu featured fewer, but more varied selections – chosen based on popularity and the desire of newly appointed head chef Steve Billerd.
“I’ve been here though three owners over the past eight years, and being promoted to head chef is absolutely exhilarating,” says Billerd. “We’re going back to a more family style place, while staying true to the Scottish-Southern fusion we’ve always had – I’m just adding some French techniques to put my own spin on things.”
Expected favorites like corned beef and cabbage and Shepherd’s pie are still on the four-page menu, but the new “Chef’s Choices” section is where visitors will notice the changes. The old-favorite Scottish steak has Billerd’s own sauce, and updated offerings like seared salmon, bacon bleu strip and the chef’s pride and joy—pesto cod—really raise the bar in Wheaton for pub food.
“People seem to be really enjoying the cod, which has a tarragon/walnut pesto on top, plus grilled red potatoes and grilled green beans with a mustard cream sauce,” beamed Billerd.
While the updated, wide-ranging menu seems to be pleasing customers, standard fare is still a big attraction. “These onion rings are the best I’ve ever eaten, hands-down, anywhere,” said Justin Hersh, who has been frequenting the Royal Mile Pub with his wife Michelle for years.
“When we moved to Kensington six years ago, our neighbors recommended the Royal Mile, and we’ve been coming ever since.” Hersh is quick to praise the service of the staff, and is excited to try some of the new menu choices.
Billerd is very interested in exploring local produce and products and hopes to bring them to the Pub as a part of their forthcoming specials, set to run Thursday through Sunday, beginning in April.
“If we only served beer, we’d be out of business again,” says Billerd, a disciple of chefs Patrick O’Connell (The Inn at Little Washington) and Thomas Keller (Per Se and The French Laundry)
Everything here is truly made from scratch with the highest quality products, and by combining the right ideas and the right technique, we will survive this time.”