Tonight my wife, her mother and I had dinner at Regalo, formerly the Fish Shanty. The driveway on Ames Street is gone, which allows more cars to park in a logical arrangement. There is a large Regalo sign on the building and the pre-existing lighted marquis sign out by the road. We entered at the end of the “first seating,” when most seats are taken. In many restaurants, this is the worst time to show up, because the kitchen is backlogged with orders.
Regalo has a festive but relaxed ambience. The yellow/burgundy/black interior is a perky update for the place. We knew several of the diners, and they all seemed to be having a good time. Wait person Sarah Ward greeted us and explained the menu and blackboard specials. Owner Ron Schmidt welcomed us personally and gave us a “gift” (The word Regalo is Italian and Spanish for “gift”) of sliced baguette and hummus.
The menu is large and fascinating. It has a remarkably wide variety of offerings for such a cozy restaurant. One blackboard special stood out: Indian Butter Chicken on jasmine rice with what I think were deep-fried pita wedges. Not your usual explosively spiced, curried Indian food, the chicken is laced with cumin, cinnamon, black sesame seeds, coconut and probably other tangy exotics.
We started the meal with drinks, mainly coffee and cola, which were priced at about $2 each, including refills. Then on to an interesting appetizer, the Regalo Eggplant Stack, thin slices of eggplant, lightly fried and layered with fresh basil, tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese. It was delicious. When I told Ron that I usually don’t care for eggplant, he replied, “But you do now, right?”
We ordered our food and it arrived quickly and piping hot. My wife Sarah had the Indian Butter Chicken special and enjoyed every bite. Please encourage Ron to put this dish on the regular menu. Her mother Mary had the Fish & Chips, with several pieces of battered (but not abused) whitefish perfectly deep-fried to a puffy golden brown. I tried some, and it reminded me of fish I ate at the Rainbow (now Pearl’s) many years ago. Carnivore that I am, I opted for the Meatlovers Lasagna, which Ron himself had prepared this afternoon. Remarkable, not heavy at all and spiced just right.
During the meal, Ron came by several times to chat, even breaking into an impromptu song right at our table. Sarah Ward continuously kept our drinks refilled and whisked away the dirty dishes. Exiting diners were pleased with their meals, and several sent thumbs-up approvals our way as they left.
We decided not to have dessert, although the homemade Strawberry Shortcake, Walnut Cheesecake Pie and Tiramisu were tempting. Fortunately for me, my brother Steve and I had stopped in before on opening day to sample the tiramisu — generous portions indeed, which were light and very tasty.
Our tab came to about $33 for the three of us (before tip), in the lower range of what I would expect to pay for such a meal.
Regalo is located on Ames Street near the Village Market. It is open Tuesday-Friday for breakfast from 7-11 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. for dinner. Saturday breakfast is served from 8 a.m.-noon and dinner is from 4-8 p.m. Sunday brunch can be enjoyed from 8 a.m -1 p.m. Closed Mondays. 231-264-8000.