Last Friday afternoon was spent in a cocktail haze of big proportions.
You know the one I mean right? When you slide into the realms of believing that you’re 100% in SATC and you 100% deserve another martini because you’re a woman with needs god dammit.
So what am I talking about? I’m talking about the newly opened and freshly styled Royal Hotel in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. The ‘regular haunt of royalty & aristocracy‘ back in the day. Pretty swish, huh?
First off, huge hats off to The Royal Hotel for doing a top notch job of renovating a listed building in the most spectacular fashion. It looks ace. Like really flippin’ good.
It still possesses its traditional charm but certainly with a modern twist. (Grand windows & chandeliers still firmly intact, but with quirky images of animals & skeletons in top hats on the wall) *big nod of approval*
Oh and all the Farrow & Ball paint. So there’s that.
I took my Mum as she’s the connoisseur of cocktails (and who else would I treat to an afternoon of sophisticated boozing & dining?) We were well and truly looked after by the staff of The Royal Hotel, in particular by our host Matt who had this amazing sixth sense of knowing exactly when we were thirsty for more drinky poos.
I started with a ‘Rubarbarum‘, a pale pink, sweetly scented rhubarb concoction with a serious alcoholic punch (100% alcohol, to be precise). Despite its dainty appearances, this drink meant serious business. It was perfectly subtle in rhubarb flavour and strong enough to antithesis a baby lamb. My kinda tipple.
The Royal Hotel have split their wonderful venue into three neat areas; the cocktail bar, the lounge and the grand ballroom restaurant upstairs. Everything was running like clockwork, with staff greeting all visitors on the door with a real emphasis on meet & greet and fabulous customer service.
Let me be clear; visiting The Royal Hotel is an experience for special occasions. Oh and Friday afternoon cocktails, obvs.
We moved onto another cocktail, the second being my all time fave in flavour. It was aptly named ‘Skuull’ & was served in a skull shaped goblet as big as my head. No joke, check out the photos.
It was all Kraken spiced rum & Ameretto & cranberry sweetness and a spoonful of raspberry jam. Again, exactly what I expect from my cocktails (I begrudge paying £9.00 for a cocktail which basically consists of OJ & a dash of vodka. This, my friends, was far from that and I was oh so very pleased).
And then, sweet baby mother of Jesus, the food arrived. A platter of Chinese food delights and some other plates to try. All of which looked pretty darn tasty and 100% freshly prepared. They’re new chef, Howard Webb, who we had the pleasure of meeting has come from a background of working as Head Chef at both The Roslin & Toulouse; all very promising.
And we certainly weren’t disappointed. The whole spread of food was delightful; special mention and top thumbs up for the crispy seaweed, sesame coated pork belly bites & the smoked salmon scotch egg. Now if someone wouldn’t mind bringing me this wee spread for my lunch today that would be marvellous…
My last cocktail of choice was the ‘bumblebee’, sweet and very seductive. A wedge of honeycomb floating provocatively on the top. This was made using TipTree Strawberry Gin Liqueur which I found pretty novel and exciting to try. It was all the things that Friday afternoons should be made of.
Before we departed, we were persuaded to try their selection of mini bar desserts all themed on various cocktails. (The ‘Pornstar Sweet Treat’, for example, was made up of vanilla pana cota, vodka & passion fruit jelly & prosecco pellets.) It didn’t take much persuasion; I’m a dessert monster.
And FYI, I certainly think all bars should have teeny tiny alcoholic desserts on their menu because as Marie Antoinette would say ‘Let them eat cake’. Uh huh, dam right.
This is a review with my honest opinions. And no I’m not laced with vodka as I write this. I genuinely think they’ve done a cracking job of doing up The Royal Hotel and creating a fantastic cocktail & bar menu to match. The experience was top class and I’ll certainly be returning.
You know I wouldn’t tell porkies. In fact, my one and only criticism was of their approach to table bookings and walk ins. They advise on booking a table, even for the bar, which does have fantastic benefits (no elbows in your face whilst you wait for a drink and a super chilled out vibe in the bar area – things I adore) How practical this will be in Southend-on-Sea I’m not so sure.
What do you think? Perhaps book yourself a table and find out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All in all, I enjoyed being served ‘proper’ cocktails in a ‘proper’ nice bar and feeling like royalty for the day. Treatment that I could see was extended to all their guests in that afternoon. Big ‘ta very much’ to The Royal Hotel for inviting me down for such an ace afternoon.
[Check out the details below for all the cocktails & food we devoured]
‘Rubarbarum – Chase rhubarb vodka collides with Edgerton pink gin (infused with pomegranate) mixed with rhubarb liqueur and a blast of prosecco’
‘Skuull’ – Kraken spiced rum, amaretto, lemon juice, cranberry juice, mint leaves & a spoonful of raspberry jam’
‘Bumblebee – Tiptree strawberry gin liqueur, znaps ‘forest tale’ (blueberry & blackberry) vodka, served with bumble-berry juice & lemon, topped with homemade honeycomb’
‘The Oriental – Confit duck wantons, sesame coated pork belly, onion bhaji, prawn crackers, giant tiger prawns wrapped in parma ham with garlic and rosemary focaccia bread & dips’
‘Smoked Salmon Scottish Egg – The Royal Hotel’s hot smoked salmon with a sweet pickled beetroot relish’