The Royal Hotel

Last weekend, I headed off to Southend to take Mumbly out for some shopping, and Sunday lunch* at the Royal Hotel.  We had a mooch along the shops and the seafront before making our way to the top of the High Street.

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Having been closed for over a year whilst it was completely refurbed, the Royal has been completely reincarnated, with the Ballroom serving as the main dining room, and new cocktail lounge downstairs. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, and has a special menu on a Sunday, with vegetarian and fish options that change each week. We went upstairs for lunch, where – at 3pm – the Ballroom was pretty full. It’s a really beautiful room, with great big windows and chandeliers.

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For starters, I went for the tomato, spinach and hazelnut arancini, which was delicious, and mum had devilled whitebait which, I am told, tasted “really fresh.” The little fishes were HUGE, despite the fact I’d somehow convinced myself that whitebait and scampi were the same thing (they are definitely not). I am pleading vegetarian ignorance.

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Mum opted for roast lamb for her main, which came with all the trimmings (and romanesco! And cauliflower cheese!) which I happily helped her eat. We eyed up everyone else’s dinner, and are pretty certain that the extras change, depending on what meat you have for your roast. I had a creamed leek and roasted Jerusalem artichoke puff pastry tart with chestnut and dolce latte, and ohmygod. Honestly, it might be the best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had in a restaurant. So, so good. I couldn’t even tell you which bit of it I liked best, it was so good.

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Somehow, there’s always room for dessert. A raspberry and tarragon creme brulee, and a chocolate brownie with mint chocolate ice cream finished us off, and we definitely had to sit for a good twenty minutes post-dinner before we could contemplate rolling ourselves down the stairs.

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We headed into the bar, where we had an amazing view of the seafront at sunset, and finished off our visit with a passion mock-jito and a Mrs Kensington, which was gin, elderflower, and apple juice. Yum.

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Definitely pay The Royal a visit if you’re in Southend; the food is incredible, the staff are fantastic, and we had a really really great few hours. If you eat in the Ballroom, try to get a table at the windows on the right hand side, because the view is stunning. The Sunday menu costs just £22 for three courses, which is a steal.

I’m already planning at least two trips back – there’s a bar menu as well as the restaurant menu, and there are more cocktails calling my name…

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Basement

Another food post? Yup – I like eating.  This one’s more about the cocktails though.  Got to have balance in these things.

Last week, the gorgeous Miss IndigoButtons and I headed to The Basement on Broughton Street for a much-needed catch up and some cocktails. Kirsty got there first, and nabbed us a sofa in the window and all the cushions, so we were pretty comfy.

It’s not long been refurbished, and has a new menu to go with its new look, so we thought it only fair that we try (almost) everything out. We went for the tapas menu, so that we could get all the food, and then share it, but the main dishes looked pretty good too. We’re clearly too indecisive to commit to just one dinner 😉

We went for pulled pork tacos, chipotle chili beef empanadias, albondigas, taquitos, and roasted sweet potato with cinnamon butter. Yum. We ordered the amount that the waitress recommended, but we definitely could have eaten a couple more dishes. Maybe we’re just piggy we were just hungry.

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The empanadias were great, and the sweet potato was seriously moreish.  Next time, I’m going to go for the main menu, and I’m definitely giving the burritos a try.  I’m a huge fan of Mexican food (I wish SO HARD that there was a Wahaca in Edinburgh), and the food at The Basement was good, but lets be honest, Kirsty and I weren’t reeeeeally there for the food. We were there for the gin. Enter the Purple Ruin.

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This little glass of loveliness is full of Beefeater gin, apricot brandy, creme de cassis, and fresh lemon. It was so good that I had to drink a few to make sure. I’m totally going to try recreating this myself, and I had totally forgotten how much I love flavoured brandy. Kirsty wasn’t as taken with the Ruin as I was, and she switched to a Blackcurrant Daiquiri, which was pretty delish.

We had such a good catch up and (get ready for the soppy blogger love) the company was just bloody awesome. I think that Kirsty is the only person I know who gets herself into even more ridiculous scenarios than I do, and I had a hilarious night. ALL THE LOVE.

The only slight downside to our night was the amount of time we waited for the bill, and then the amount of time we waited to be able to pay – it was a Wednesday night, and it was pretty quiet, so fifteen minutes before we gave up and went up to pay at the bar seemed a touch unnecessary, but it was hardly the end of the world.

As Kirsty had to head to work the next day, we headed across the street to the Oh! Bar for a swift last drink, and by the time we wandered off in our separate directions, I was most definitely ever-so-slightly tipsy.  I think I might have to branch out with my cocktail choices next time, but the Prince references and the gin were just so good.  I also need to point out that The Basement had THE BEST old school soundtrack for a Wednesday night cocktail bar.  Artful Dodger and So Solid Crew?  Awesome.

Disclaimer: We went to the Basement for dinner and drinks that we paid for ourselves, and we weren’t asked to review, but come on – two bloggers having dinner and cocktails? Has to be done 😉 All opinions and reviews are honest, as always!

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Dinner at Lupita

On Thursday night, post-museum, I met my gorgeous friend Emma for dinner, and we went in search of Lupita’s “cheese/guacamole-thing”.  A bit of shoe shopping and a bus ride later, we found the restaurant far easier than we expected to – it’s literally next door to Charing Cross station (and there’s another one at Spitalfields). We only had to wait about five minutes for a table, and we ordered some cocktails whilst we debated what to have with our cheese.

I can’t for the life of me remember what our cocktails were called, but they were yummy!

Then we ordered this…

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It’s totally as good as it looks.  Thats a sheet of melted cheese, folded over so that it stands up, wedged into the best guacamole. The cheese is still warm, but it snaps off so that you can scoop up the guacamole with it. Amazing.  Whoever invented this is literally a food genius.  When she last came to Lupita, Emma didn’t order it, but saw it on someone else’s table on her way out, and has waited six months to eat it.  She said it was completely worth the wait.

Last time we went for dinner, I took Lushy to Wahaca, so this was her attempt to out-Mexico me. So far, so good.

We did eat stuff other than cheese too, and all of it was delicious.  This is what we had…

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I had the Tacos Pollo Encebollado, which is chicken marinated in Lupita’s special sauce, with caramelised onions.  So good.

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Emma had the fried & braised pulled pork Tacos Carnitas. She did get two, but was too impatient to start eating to wait for me to do my dinner photos! They were so tasty – next time, we’re going to order both of these again and share them (Joey tendencies!! Haha)

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We ordered the Chorizo con Papas Quesadillas and had one each, and it was the perfect amount of food. Just enough room left to share some Churros for dessert! (No Churros photos, because we ate them too fast.)

It was such a good meal, and the restaurant is in a really good location for hopping straight on the tube afterwards – definitely a plus if the cocktail list gets the better of you!

I’m going to have to start hunting out good restaurants in Edinburgh soon, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

I have to point out that Lupita was entirely Emma’s choice for dinner, I’d never even heard of it before, let alone been asked to review it – it was just a really good meal, and I thought I’d share it!