Tag Archives: food

Breakfast and Champagne at The Royal Hotel, and Dr Legba’s Emporium Southend On Sea. *Review*

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

I had the pleasure of attending The Royal Hotel and the attached Dr Legba’s Emporium for the second time as a blogger. My mum and I were invited to try out The Royal Hotel’s brand new breakfast menu. The surroundings were as sumptuous as ever without feeling pretentious. The Royal Hotel isn’t actually a hotel any longer. For more information about the history of the building and how brothers Matt and Dave made it what it is now, read my previous rave review here.

Mum and I were hoping and praying telepathically to the Royal Hotels chefs that Eggs Benedict would be on the brand new breakfast menu for our visit. It’s an absolute fav of mine and when I am reviewing somewhere new, I like to see their take on my personal favourite. I also have a notion that when I eat out I try to order things that I am rubbish at making myself at home. So eggs benedict it was and a life saving cuppa, brewed from the pot with plenty of sugar cubes to liven me up. (I have a three year old don’t you know!)

Dr Legba’s

The decor there is inviting and really pleasant on the eye. I love the pictures we sat in front of for breakfast. I mean this in a totally complimentary way when I say The Royal Hotel is an extraordinarily ordinary everyday, special occasion kind of venue.

You can pop by for an impromptu breakfast or a drink at the bar and feel like it’s a completely acceptable everyday place to frequent. On the flip side you can also book an amazing lunch, dinner or afternoon tea and feel like the most special guest ever. The Royal Hotel is my everyday and save for best. I can’t recommend this place enough.

Dr Legba's

Brekkie done, Matt treated us to a tour of the ballroom. He allowed us to venture to the top of the staircase which is supposedly haunted. I had already had a tour on my previous visit where I found out a lot about the history of the famous hotel, Mum on the other hand hadn’t so I was excited for her to come and check the place out. read more here.

Dr Legba's

The Royal Hotel has a not so secret and intimate basement bar which goes by the name of Dr Legba’s Emporium . A place of Cocktails and Curiosities, led by the cocktail master of the brothers, Dave. Dr Legba’s feels like another world whereby you can disappear for hours, completely oblivious to the real world outside.

A complete heaven for a cloud dweller like me. When you re-emerge from your Dr Legba slumber onto Southend high street, you will likely be in an Absinthe induced daze. Almost like you’ve been dancing with the absinthe fairy herself. Her portrait is shortly to be adorned to the door leading you to the loo’s. Here’s a sneak peak.

Dr Legba’s

The tipple for our delectable afternoon was a rather stunning and unusual champagne by the name of Veuve Clicquot Rich, also available in Rosé.

Now I wouldn’t normally consider myself a champagne kinda gal, but Veuve Clicquot Rich totally changed my mind. At approximately £59 a bottle, it can certainly be reserved for a more special occasion on a night out. But let me tell you why you would consider this.

The Veuve Rich has been developed specifically with mixologists in mind and is intended to be used in cocktails. It’s also much, much sweeter, almost ten times that of standard champagnes. The first unusual trait to the Rich is that it is served with ice. Then by adding one or several flavours, you can create your own taste. This makes every individuals experience of the Rich different.  During our visit we were invited to taste the Rich with cucumber, orange or black pepper. I declined the black pepper, but Mum enjoyed it. The orange was divine and the cucumber almost refreshing.

Dr Legba's

A visit to Dr Legba’s isn’t complete without trying the absinthe. With a choice of varying strengths, it’s fascinating to watch it be prepared. Much of it using the equipment Dave made himself. Our treat for this visit was a take on the famous Hemingway Champagne, Death in the Afternoon. Dave artistically mixes the absinthe with water and the Veuve Clicquot to produce an amazing cocktail. At approximately 68% alcohol and topped with a star anise you may start to feel like Hemingway himself. I get a little excited to see what Dave is going to do next with the absinthe. It really is an amazing flavour, if that’s your thing.

Dr Legba’s

If you fancy trying the breakfast at The Royal Hotel or an evening getting lost Dr Legba’s I can totally recommend you give them a visit. Dr Legba’s has a capacity of 40. To ensure you don’t miss out, it’s advisable to arrive there early on a Friday or Saturday night. It is also available for private hire Wednesday to Sunday during the day or night. I’m totally considering it for my next special event or even baby shower!

With thanks to Penny from A Penny For Them for organising.

Until next time…

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

It’s Christmas! The Christmas Tag!

Any self respecting blogger is bombarding their readers with copious amounts of posts, piccies and present ideas relating to Christmas. Me? Not so much. Maybe next year. I have 14 nieces and nephews to buy presents for so that has more than kept me busy. Chuck in the Georgeous getting chickenpox and my blog has more the  fallen by the wayside.

That was until a fellow blogger and local mama friend Kate from The Less-Refined mind tagged me in the Christmas tag. A chance for me to answer questions on my Christmas loves and habits. A chance I couldn’t turn down. You can check out Kate’s answers at It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Christmas tag! 

Enjoy!

1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie? 

Santa Claus the Movie (1985) with Dudley Moore was always my favourite growing up. I loved that and The Snowman. George loves the snowman now and we even have a twinkly Christmas pic in the living room.

Christmas

These days I love Elf but a tradition is for me and hubs to laugh our heads of at The Griswold family in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I can’t vividly remember one but I do remember there being some mild panic that people wouldn’t be able to get to us if it snowed when I was younger. These days our families are so widespread that travel is a must so a white Christmas is no longer the dream

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

We alternate between my family one year and in recent years have been visiting my in laws the other year. On the years my family don’t get together because my sisters and I are all with our in laws, we all get together and repeat Christmas on Boxing Day round my sister’s.

4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?

I have a few with stories behind them.

Feliz Navidad (the Michael Bublé and Thalia) – Hubs has always sung  this and I honestly believed he made it up. So when I bought the Michael Bublé Christmas album and this song came on I was literally stunned and let’s just say we enjoy laughing at my stupidity when this comes on.

Last Christmas by Wham – This was always my song to wander round the dancefloor towards the end of the night, hands on chest, drunk and merry singing away and pointing to each of my girlie friends when  I say someone special. Those days are gone and sadly so is George Michael so this song now only makes me feel like welling up.

Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade -It’s an absolute classic. Every age knows it and it has brought with it a classic punch catchphrase of just yelling at the top of your voice “It’s Christmaaaaaaasssss!!!!”

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Yep. We always were allowed to open one small present on Xmas eve as kids so I’ve carried that tradition on with hubs and now with George. You open it in the evening.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Erm, without cheating with google probably not. How many are there? 7? 8? Rudolph, Donner, Dasher, Dancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid? Let’s give up there shall we!

7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

The big FC coming round on his mighty sleigh, speakers blaring, pulled by his trusty Ford Mondeo. It’s a beautiful tradition that brings me and my neighbours together in our town. With thanks to the Rotary CLub for organising this year after year.

We always try to take George to Santa’s grotto (only one mind you). We are cutting it fine this year though with the intrusive chicken pox making an appearance.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake

Fake. I would adore a real tree so so much but I’m a cat lady. We have three cats and I know the wally’s would eat the flaming needles and end up in the emergency vets over Christmas. It’s so fab that you can now get little scented sticks to put in your fake tree to make it smell real.

9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?

I don’t like mince pies, egg nog, mulled wine or gingerbread men. I don’t like christmas pudding. So that just leaves turkey and chocolate. I never tire of turkey. Turkey curry, turkey dinner, turkey sandwich. As long as it’s warm I love it. Warm leftover turkey sandwich with cranberry and stuffing, mm mmm.

10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?

It’s always been about the giving for me. These days I have so many niece and nephews we only buy for the kids in our families. I still get a few pressies off parents and hubs but quite often me and hubs are so skint this time of year that we agree to not buy each other much. My list of wants is always long, but I live without them. I just love seeing people open their gifts from me/us.

11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?

It has to be my bike I got from my mum and stepdad when I was 13. Me and my step sis J (who’s only 18 days older than me) were each given a different coloured sweet wrapper and told to find something that colour in the house Christmas morning. When we did we could keep it. We had a brand new bike each. I still have mine now. Me, sis and hubs have cycled so far on that bike. It holds so many memories.

12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

Lapland. The whole caboodle. Sleigh ride, so much snow. As soon as George is old enough to remember (say 5 years+) I’d love to go.

13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

I like to think I’m pretty decent. Using ribbons and bows and suchlike although I don’t always bother with the ribbon anymore because of the aforementioned cats. It’s like drawing a moth to a flame and those presents end up with holes torn in them before I even get them to the recipient.

I used to be a proper annoying so and so and put people’s presents in a box wrapped inside a box and so on.

14. Most memorable Christmas memory?

When I was younger and all the Nans and Grandads were alive. All of us, my uncle, cousins, 3 sisters round the table. Usually around 15 of us. It’s how Christmas should be in my book. Now we make a toast to the never forgotten grandparents but still the 15 of us with the addition of our own children and partners.

15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?

My sisters are 8 and 10 years older than me ( and as mentioned previous J is the same age as me). One year, I think I was maybe about 7 years old, it fell to one of my sister’s to deliver the stocking to the end of mine and my step sis’s beds. I can’t remember which one of them it was but they made too much noise and I saw them. Silently. I didn’t make a big deal. I knew from then.

16. What makes the holidays special for you?

Time spent with family, guilt free eating and drinking, making magical memories with George and going out of my way to make people feel special. I love the way everyone comes together to try and create that spirit.

Have a wonderful Christmas all. And if you know anyone alone at Christmas. Try and encourage them not to be.

This is my Christmas tag. What did you think? Do you share any of my Christmas loves?

Here are my tags;

Tracey over at One Frazzled Mum

Franca over at A Moment With Franca

Susie over at So Happy In Town

Here are your questions.

  1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
  2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
  3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
  4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
  6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
  7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake
  9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?
  10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?
  11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?
  12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
  13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
  14. Most memorable Christmas memory?
  15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?
  16. What makes the holidays special for you?
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Afternoon tea and cocktails at The Royal Hotel Southend – A review

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

Recently, as you may have seen if you follow me on social media, I attended my first ever bloggers event. An Essex bloggers event no less. As bloggers events go, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high with this one. The event consisted of welcome drinks, followed by afternoon tea, finished up with cocktails in the secret Dr Legba’s downstairs bar.

I’ll explain each part of the afternoon in more detail shortly, but first, let’s kick this review off in my typical fashion with a poem. An ode to the Royal Hotel, which by the way is no longer a hotel. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a Southend Hotel,

Frequented by Lady Hamilton and her Admiral Nelson as well

No stranger to a noble figure or two

This Royal Hotel soon became unused. 

 

Then along came two brothers

Called Matt and Dave

This run down Hotel

They wanted to save

 

So along with their Dad they set to work. 

To make this old hotel a restaurant and bar with quirk. 

Prepared for hard work they rolled up their sleeves

Making the Royal Hotel a place you never want to leave.

 

Their vision achieved they opened their doors

To a place that is to be truly adored. 

The food is divine, the cocktails unique

The flaming absinthe on tap is a fascinating treat

I hope you enjoyed that and it has got you wanting to know more, so here goes. Despite the name, The Royal Hotel is now a restaurant and bar contained within a grade 2 listed building and for that reason the name cannot be changed. On arrival, I was welcomed warmly and greeted by Matthew, the director of The Royal Hotel. The surroundings felt comfortable, clean, plush, but not poncey. Ornaments and lamps from Debenhams make the place feel homely and welcoming as do the staff.

royal hotel

I was offered a glass of The Bees Knees sparkling pink rose wine. This is alcohol free fermented grape juice with a green tea infusion. It’s a fab alternative to wine. I’ve since found this can be purchased at Ocado and Morrisons so I shall be treating myself often as this stuff was delicious.

Soon we were escorted by the fabulously entertaining and thoroughly informative Jonathan. He made sure our glasses were filled with prosecco whilst informing us all about the history of The Royal Hotel. Built in 1791, it became a regular haunt for Lady Hamilton. The mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who had a dinner party and ball in the very grand hall in which we sat. Months after the supper, he was killed during the battle of Trafalgar. The building hasn’t been used as a hotel since 1974.

Royal hotel

The building still bears the original chandeliers, dance floor and coving which have been lovingly restored. The rest of the building has been refurbished and is unrecognisable from how brothers Matt and Dave and their Dad found it when they took over.

The food was truly amazing. My personal preference would be the Gentleman’s afternoon tea. My favourites being the mini beef burger, ham hock and welsh rarebit croque monsieur, miniature cider jelly, and the millionaires shortbread was just incredible.

A list of the menu’s can be found on their website here https://www.royalhotelsouthend.com/

Royal hotel

Completely stuffed and feeling guilty for all the food I couldn’t fit in my belly, I then proceeded downstairs to the secret Dr Legba’s cocktail bar. I’m a huge fan of a cocktail but I was such a cocktail chav before Dr Legba’s. Woo woo’s, Cosmopolitan’s blah blah blah. Dr Legba’s will introduce you to flavours and tastes you never thought you would experience in a drink.

There are over 50 cocktails on the menu, a third of which have been created by Dave, who is a former head bar trainer at The London Cocktail club. One of my absolute favs, one of his own creations, is the Pork and Apple martini, served with a flaming absinthe caramelised bacon.

Royal hotel
Image courtesy of Lynsey Garrick at http://ladygogo84.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0

Dave created this using sour apple liqueur, Absolut vodka, pressed apple juice and fresh lime. It was truly so sweet and to coin one of my favourite phrases

It was like sex in a martini glass! Yum!

You have to visit just to try this, and I might add the flaming absinthe caramelised bacon is not just for show. You will have never tasted bacon like it! Although the menu varies from night to night, they are all to happy to make cocktails at your request should they not be on the menu the night you visit.

Royal Hotel
Image courtesy of Hannah Cornish at www.hannatalks.com

Dave has put so much work into making this bar a unique and magical place. Using as many reclaimed materials as possible, he created his own absinthe dispenser as well as painstakingly gluing over £170 worth of 2 pence pieces to the vertical bar front. He still has much in the pipeline, including a commissioned piece of art depicting the absinthe fairy. The secret, hidden door to the loos will soon have commissioned piece of artwork depicted the absinthe fairy. Dave also has plans to have circus style mirrors in the toilets and to eventually make the bar buzzer entry only, with the buzzer being hidden under a secret fairy door. You’ll be pleased to hear Dr Legba’s can also be hired for private functions.

I could literally rave about The Royal Hotel for many hundreds more words but I’ll tell you about one last special feature. Both The Royal Hotel and Dr Legba’s stock Dalmore whiskey. You have the option to complement the gentleman’s afternoon teas with a whisky platter of Dalmore 12 year whisky, 15 year whisky and cigar malt reserve. Dalmore are rather particular about who stock their whisky and they personally place the sale at venues chosen themselves.

Royal hotel

Huge thanks to Matt, Dave, Jonathan and everyone that made my afternoon wonderful. I look forward to visiting again very soon and bringing family and friends.

Shoutout to a few fellow bloggers who helped with some of the images featured in this post. Also shoutout to the lovely fellow bloggers I met and had fun with at this event.

The Diary of New Freedom by Lynsey Garrick

The Less-Refined Mind – By Kate Tunstall

Hanna Talks by Hanna Cornish

and to these  fellow blogging ladies for helping me

Danielle at Escaping Essex

Laura at Life by Laura

Sam at Beautifie

And finally thank you for organising Penny at A Penny for Them

Until next time……

Featured Image photo taken by Kate at The Less-Refined Mind

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday