It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The first couple of months of this year has literally whizzed past, and I can’t believe it’s March already. Anyway, here is my momentous return to this neglected little blog, and what a return it is. It’s also a return to The Royal Hotel, which I visited not long after its reopening last year.
The restaurant upstairs has got a snazzy new menu, the downstairs bar has got amazing new cocktails, and – excitingly – the basement is opening soon as a brand new absinthe bar.
Let’s (always) start at the bar.
The Royal’s mixologists are continually testing out new cocktails, and they’re adding signature recipes to the menu all the time. I tried one of the new ones, The Sloe Paddington, and it was delicious. Sloe gin (tick), raspberry gin liqueur (tick), lemon juice, mint, and marmalade. God, it was good. Mama Bear had a mock-jito because she was driving, and it’s probably a good job, because it was gone so quickly that if it had had alcohol in it, it would’ve gone straight to her head. Ha.
After a couple of cocktails, our table was ready, so we went up to the ballroom to eat. We had some bread and hummus whilst we debated the rest of the menu, and for starters, I went for the soup of the day (everywhere should do carrot and chilli soup, all the time), and Mum had pan seared scallops with black pudding and pea puree fondant, pancetta, and sour cream, and I have to say, it looked stunning.
For mains, I opted for the new vegetarian dish, a braised garlic and herb puy lentil tapalone, and, inspired by the wildlife that has taken up residence in my parents’ garden, Mum had coq au vin style pheasant (!)
Our mains were really good; Mum said she wasn’t sure she’d eaten pheasant before, but that she’d have it again. My plate looked like a flower when it arrived, but I deconstructed it pretty quick. The only thing I’d say was maybe a downside was that it was mostly lentils; the tapalone is like a dumpling filled with lentils, and there are lentils with the green beans too. It was good, but if you’re not a big lentil fan, it might not be for you. On thinking about it, it actually might be a vegan option, rather than just vegetarian, but I’ll have to check! We munched it all up and had a little break to decide on dessert.
I didn’t manage to take a picture of my lemon tart before I ate it, but Mum and I shared that and some mixed sorbet – the flavours change about, but the lemongrass and basil is loooovely. We’d spent so long nattering over dinner that the parking had run out by the time we were finished, so I took a few instagram pics of the sun setting out of the window, and then we dashed back to the car.
I should also mention that the service at the Royal has been AMAZING both times I’ve been. The staff are friendly, and chatty, and really know what they’re talking about. If you have no idea what a tapalone is (just us?), they’re happy to explain anything, and they were superb.
I’m excited to see what the absinthe bar is like when it’s done – it’s something really fun and different, and Southend is really pulling it’s socks up on places to go out. It’ll have a gin distillery any day now 😉
*We were offered dinner and drinks at the Royal Hotel in return for an honest review. As ever, all words/opinions/pictures are my own!