Royal Mile Pub
Ratings: 5 | Reviews: 5 | Display Reviews Only:
3.38/5 rDev -10.1%
The Royal Mile is the closest thing I've had to a "local" the past couple of years, and, along with the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring and the Olney Ale House in Olney, one among a handful of decent beer bars in the northern suburbs of Washington, DC. To the tavern-goer not versed in Scottish history and culture, its name may not evoke images of kilt-wearing highlanders playing bagpipes the way Edinburgh Castle Pub, one of my old haunts in San Francisco, might, but it does, in fact, refer to the main artery running through Edinburgh's Old Town, one of the cradles of Scottish civilization. It should come as no surprise, then, that this place bills itself as an "authentic Scottish pub", and, although I've never been to Scotland, I see little reason to doubt this proclamation. Sure, the decor is predictably comprised of ornamental tartans and antique maps of Scotland (or copies thereof), but, the atmosphere here, in sharp contrast to most "Irish" pubs I've had the opportunity to visit, doesn't really feel contrived. This is due largely to its achievement of capturing a true pub "feel", that is, a palpable sense of community among its patrons, which is, in turn, and in no small part, due to the relative paucity of similar establishments in the area, Scottish-accented or otherwise. So, in a way, it scores points by default, and can be looked upon as just a neighborhood tavern that is only cosmetically Scottish, but isn't this what you'd expect a neighborhood pub in Edinburgh or Glasgow (or Dublin or London, for that matter) to look and feel like? I'll take a genuine pub atmosphere over Celtic tchotchkes any day. And besides, it has the lengthiest single-malt whisky menu in the county, if not the metroplex, which, to my mind, at least, certainly doesn't sully its authenticity.
The draft beer selection, on the other hand, is, regrettably, not much better than passable, and the eleven-odd taps are dominated by the likes of Guinness, Smithwick's, and Yuengling. However, among the rotating taps (about half of them), it's not uncommon to see up to three Clipper City options, usually of the Heavy Seas persuasion. (I order Loose Cannon about three in every four visits; indeed, the RM occasionally hosts dinner events showcasing CC beers.) Flying Dog and Dogfish Head beers also make intermittent appearances, and Warsteiner Dunkel seems to be a fixture along with the Diageo products. The bottle menu is somewhat more interesting, if still less than inspired, with nods to Scottish (Belhaven, Harviestoun) and Maryland (Wild Goose, Clay Pipe) breweries.
I've always found the service here to be prompt and friendly, but I'm pretty low-maintenance. From my perch at the bar, the scene in the dining room can appear one of disarray at peak times, but I think this has more to do with the somewhat crammed space and its slightly unusual layout than with any incompetence on the part of the floor staff. Beer knowledge is minimal, but sufficient given the context: again, this is no beer temple, nor does it pretend to be.
The food here is essentially a Scottish take on standard American pub fare, and a mediocre one at that. Wheaton is known in the DC area as a hotbed of "ethnic" cuisine, with options ranging from Thai to Peruvian to Israeli, so, unless you're content with fish 'n' chips, I'd recommend a few drinks at the RM as a prelude to dinner elsewhere nearby.
This place does an adequate job of filling a void in the otherwise nearly-nonexistent Greater Silver Spring beer bar scene. It actually scores pretty poorly when rated solely on beer-oriented criteria, but does well when the beer geek removes his blinders and sees it for what it is: a cozy, friendly, slightly-worn-in-a-lived-in-sort-of-way neighborhood gathering place where the company and (there's no overstating it) the whisky list will make him forget to wonder why the beer selection isn't better. I doubt MD Route 97 bears much resemblance to the actual Royal Mile in Edinburgh, nor would anyone ever mistake Wheaton's commercial district for Edinburgh's Old Town, but the likes of Billy Connolly and Craig Ferguson would nonetheless likely feel right at home here if they were to pop in for a couple of swift halfs (or is that strictly an ENGLISH thing?).
11-01-2009 16:27:41 | More by MaltistLupulist
3.93/5 rDev +4.5%
Stepping into this place, you definitely feel transported to a pub in Ireland that's as old as the hills. Stained wood paneling and wooden furnishings everywhere, with elderly regulars at the bar that look like they grew into the woodwork.
The scotch menu was definitely impressive, as well as the beer menu. They have a great selection of local microbrews, as well as imports (mostly from England and Scotland) that are, however, a bit pricey. I ordered a Laphroaig 10 year and an Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, both of which were excellent and served in the appropriate glassware.
The food is okay but seems overpriced. The onion rings were gigantic and good for their novelty size. The entree items didn't seem too appetizing, came under-seasoned and in small portions, and were relatively costly. Service was also not too great and our table was often neglected by the servers.
Overall, I'd recommend this place just for drinks and appetizers. I haven't found anywhere else in DC with such a good scotch selection and an equally good selection of english-style ales, as well as an "authentic" scottish menu to boot.
09-03-2009 04:38:51 | More by thekanna
3.93/5 rDev +4.5%
Been to the Royal Mile a few times over the past six months and have always been pretty satisfied. First off, this is a pub in the true sense of the word. There is no loud music, unnecessary hoopla or bells and whistles. It is a great place to sit down in a relatively quiet and very cordial atmosphere and have a beer with a friend or two. The decor is great. This is the only Scottish Pub I've seen and the atmosphere works. Tartans hung all around, with various posters/pictures of maps of the Isles, various rugby, football matches (I'm not talking about Packers-Bears here), and Scottish festivals adorning the walls. Also a nice fireplace off to the side, that burns bright on winter nights is a nice added touch.
There are really three rooms to the Royal Mile. When you walk in, the bar is in front of you. It is in a cozy nook of the establishment, L-shaped, and seats 10-12. Has a nice view of the huge selection of Scotches along the wall as well. Directly behind the bar is a dining room, with a view of the outside. There are several tables there. In the back is a broader second dining room, with the aforementioned fireplace. Another nice touch to the place is the fact that they have some sort of event going on seemingly every night. From scotch tastings, beer breakfasts, weekend music entertainment to my personal favorite, Sea Shanty Night, they have it all. A very friendly place.
Onto the beer. Selection is better than average, but not overwhelming for a beer bar. There are 10-12 taps. Always a good representation of Heavy Seas beers. Loose Cannon is always on draft, and respective seasonal from that fine brewery as well. Some other basics such as Sierra Nevada PA, Guiness, Sam Adams, Smithwicks, a Dogfish Head offering, Boddingtons, and a couple of others. Drafts are served either in an imperial pint glass for between $5-7, or a half pint (10 oz is my guess) for about 60% of that price. Bottle selection is good with offerings in all categories (American crafts with heavy emphasis on locals, Belgians, German wheats, and a good variety of Scottish Ales.) Bottles are overpriced in my opinion. American crafts start at $4.50 a bottle and go up over $12, Euros start at $5.50 and go up quickly. My advice is to pick one of the good draft beers, which always seem to be poured fresh and correctly.
Service is friendly, quick, and efficient. They will tell you what they know about the beer, and seem to do a great job in explaining their Scotches as well. Both waitresses and bartenders seem well trained and do a good job. Food is definitely worth getting. A very different menu than used to seeing at the typical beer bar. Scottish-themed and worth a try.
Overall, this is a nice, easy-going place to have a beer. You will be able to find something good to drink, in a very nice atmosphere. A very unique establishment for the D.C. area.
01-07-2009 14:53:02 | More by macpapi
3.83/5 rDev +1.9%
Heat up some malted barley, yeast and water, and what beverage are you making?
If you answered "beer," you're only half right. BREW the mix, lager it in stainless steel for a month or two, and yes, you have the beverage that all of us at beeradvocate love best. But DISTILL the same ingredients, using peat for fuel, age the batch in oak barrels for a few years, and you've got -- Scotch whiskey.
Strange, isn't it, that beer and Scotch so rarely acknowledge their kinship? Stranger still is how few Scottish pubs there are where you can easily compare these two wonderful drinks.
Every large U.S. city has a couple of "English pubs" and a dozen or so "Irish pubs," but hardly ever a "Scottish pub." OK, everybody thinks they're part Irish. But lots more Americans claim Scottish ancestry than Belgian. Yet here in the DC area, anyway, we've got five Belgian restaurants and bars. And only one Scottish bar.
Visit that one Scottish bar, the Royal Mile, and you'll be even more puzzled about why there aren't more of them. It's a great neighborhood bar with a nice atmosphere and a good beer selection. If you like friendly and easy-going, you'll love this place. And the prices, especially for premium Scotches, are amazingly reasonable.
It's only got twelve or so seats at the bar. But it has a spacious table area in a bright, high-ceiling room that has just the right Scottish feel without seeming hokey. There's also outside seating in good weather. The staff is gregarious, and it's easy to strike up conversations with them or with the other patrons. It's a very casual place, but it's not scruffy and it isn't a dive. It's rich with real people -- far enough off the beaten path that there are very few tourists and not a poseur or fashionista to be found. Go there, you'll enjoy it!
It's the only pub in the DC area that really tries to focus on Scotland's wonderful beers. You may have had some of the familiar ones, like Belhaven and McEwan's, which are plenty good. But there are a lot more. Like the magnificent bold beers from the Orkney Brewery (Dark Island, Dragonhead, Red MacGregor, Skullsplitter) , the eccentric flavored ones from the Heather Brewery, featuring elderberry, gooseberry, heather and even seaweed, (the latter definitely an acquired taste), and the historical beers of Traquair House. Not to mention a bunch of superb beers from a dozen or more craft breweries.
The Royal Mile's Scottish beer selection, while well-chosen, is limited (only one or two on tap and eight to ten in bottles at any given time). But the bar more than makes up for it in other ways. First of all, the selection of other imported and craft beers is very good, with eleven taps and about fifty bottles.
Secondly, the food is straightforward and hearty. It includes both well-prepared pub fare and some nice Scottish items like Scotch broth, Scotch egg and, if you're feeling brave, heart: haggis, a traditional concoction of lamb innards and oatmeal.
But above all, there are the whiskeys. Michael Jackson, the late great Beer Hunter, wrote books on Scotch whiskey for a reason. And not just that he just liked to have a good time! He understood, better than most of us, that beer and whiskey are cousins. A fine single malt Scotch has as much personality and character as a great craft beer. Scottish regions like the Highlands and the Hebrides produce styles as distinctive and recognizable as IPA's and stouts. Where a beer might have a nice hoppy finish, a Scotch may have a tangy undertone of the sea. Try a Skullsplitter ale alongside a Highland Park Scotch. Both come from Scotland's Orkney Islands. Or a delicious Black Douglas ale with a smoky, rich Lagavulin Scotch. Paradise.
The Royal Mile lets you make endless comparisons of beer and Scotch without investing a fortune in transatlantic flights or expensive bottles of Scotch. The pub's fantastic array of 80 or so of great Scotch whiskeys is available in sample sizes FOR ABOUT $3-4 EACH. (Ask for the sample size, not the drink size. You can spring for a full drink once you discover your favorites.) Specials, with even lower prices, are offered on Thursdays.
To get to the Mile on public transportation from DC, take a Metro Red Line train marked "Glenmont" and get off at the Wheaton stop. There's some construction atop the station currently, so you have to take a temporary concrete stairway up the last twenty feet or so. Make a u-turn at the top of the concrete stairs and walk up Georgia Avenue a block or so, past the Safeway. Turn right at the first street after that (Price Avenue), next to a Chevy Chase Savings Bank. You'll see the pub right away.
If you're driving (definitely not a good idea if you plan to sample the whiskeys) it's just off Georgia Avenue between University and Viers Mill.
09-28-2008 05:03:34 | More by beeryes
District of Columbia
3.73/5 rDev -0.8%
I live within a mile or so of the place and go there at least once a week, so I am biased. Decent selection of brews, with the generic pub taps - A-B beers, Sam Adams, Stella Artois. Three seasonal taps usually are usually local (Baltimore or Frederick) brews and a Sam Adams seasonal and Dogfish Head. Currently have Belhavens on tap as well. Have a tap of cider, as well. Where the Mile earns above average marks comes from selection of hard to find beers - a few English and Scottish ones that aren't usually served as well three Ommegangs brews. A decent selection of the larger "microbrews" as well - Sierra Nevada, Rogues, Pete's. I have ordered most of the beers on the menu, and have only had them say they didn't have that in stock three times - every time it was Tetleys, which they stopped carrying, which was sad.
Mostly a restaurant, though rumor is that they want to expand to increase the bar area. Friday and Saturday nights before 9 PM, Scotch tasting nights, and the first Tuesday of each month are the most crowded nights. That Tuesday is the Sea Chanty night - be warned, people all around you will be singing. Above average bar fare, with nightly specials that are usually pretty good. Huge selection of Scotch, if you want a change of pace.
05-03-2007 20:35:54 | More by peteinwheaton
Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, MD
- out of 100 based on 5 ratings.