The Royal Eagle is a little restaurant tucked away in St. Sabbas Orthodox Monastery, which in turn is tucked away in a little neighborhood in Harper Woods. It is only open one night a week for dinner and the gourmet food they serve is fit for a king…and monks as it turns out.
St. Sabbas is a Russian Orthodox monastery which currently has four monks, two in residence. The monastic lifestyle, while not completely vegetarian, leans more toward a plant-based diet. They also have several fasting periods throughout the year when the diet is mostly vegan.
Petr Balcarovsky, head chef at The Royal Eagle since 2007, enjoys creating new vegan dishes to please both the monks and the guests. “Vegan fare allows you to be creative,” explains Petr. “I get to find new and different ways to make delicious tasting food that is also filling and fits into the gourmet category. At times it can be difficult to come up with a dish, especially if I am going to make it without wheat and soy which can be hard on the stomach, but using a variety of vegetables opens up a whole new spectrum of cooking.”
Vegan fare is available during lent, and since roughly half the year is lenten periods there is always something on the menu for vegan diners. However, it’s still best to call in advance to make sure dishes are available or to ask the chef to prepare something for you.
Samples of the vegan fare include a marinated portabella appetizer, Ukrainian borscht soup, vegan Kiev made from beans and other vegetables, mushroom risotto, and gnocchi with eggplant meatballs. For dessert they may have apple strudel, vegan chocolate pudding, or sorbet. The Monastic plate is always available on the menu and consists of potato pancakes, homemade apple sauce, vegetables, and barley and mushroom kasha. Of course there is plenty of fare for non-vegetarian friends as well.
Entrees are around $20 and the restaurant accepts cash or credit card. The reservation-only restaurant is open for dinner on Thursdays and offers a Russian tea luncheon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The dining room is filled with antique furniture and reminds diners of a medieval castle. The meals are served on beautiful plates that go with the restaurant theme. The servers are volunteers that dress in traditional costumes. Some of the servers just like the unique atmosphere; others want to serve the monastery and consider it part of their tithe. During nice weather, diners may even opt to dine al fresco while enjoying the beautiful gardens.
The Royal Eagle is on the grounds of St. Sabbas Orthodox Monastery. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the grounds or browse through the gift shop. However, they ask that visitors follow their guidelines to ensure a pleasant experience for all: No shorts, capri pants, or tank-tops; no smoking, gum chewing, or ringing cell phones; and they ask that you please maintain control of young children. The proceeds from the restaurant and gift shop go to support the monks and the church. They occasionally offer tours. And they have a special Cookie Walk in December where visitors can pay one price and sample a variety of different cookies.
So if you’re looking for a unique experience and a gourmet vegan meal, The Royal Eagle is definitely worth a try! Your taste buds will thank you for it!
The Royal Eagle is located at 18745 Old Homestead in Harper Woods. They are open for dinner on Thursday nights from 5 to 10 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they offer a Russian tea luncheon from 11 am to 2 pm. Reservations are required. 313-521-1894