I’ve never really been one for brunch, purely because I’m a bit of a food fusser and don’t actually like eggs or avocado! It’s ok if you’re questioning if I can still be a blogger after that bombshell, I am tbh!
So, when I got the invite to join the #RoyalBloggers brunch and cocktails from the lovely Penny, I of course went straight online to check out the menus. I know I’m not the only one who religiously checks out a restaurant’s menu before visiting. Anyway, the new breakfast menu looks insane, even if there are a lot of egg based dishes!
Being Southend through and through I’ve seen the Royal Hotel in many different guises, mostly in my younger years as a rave venue. But, roll forward about 15 or so years and today the Royal Hotel has been restored to its former glory and turned into a sensational dining and cocktail spot with a new secret basement bar, Dr Legba’s Emporium of Cocktails & Curiosities. Brothers, Matthew and Dan took ownership of the building back in October 2015 and lovingly restored it back to its royal former glory being sympathetic to the buildings listed heritage.
For my sins, I’ve been sticking to Dry January and this was a real test of my willpower. Dr Legba’s is a quirky, intimate space with the most well stocked bar I’ve ever seen. But before I talk about all the fabulous cocktails my friend Vicki got to try, I need to talk about brunch.
The new breakfast menu is a mixture of traditional staples like the Full English and then some slightly more unusual/unique dishes including Devilled Crab. I went for the Full English but slightly adapted it, after all my changes it was more like a ‘half English’! Vicki, although not a vegan was really intrigued to try the Vegan Full English and I have it on good authority that it was super tasty.
The first floor ballroom is simply stunning, not only is it light and airy but certain tables have a view out to the longest pier in the world and the Thames Estuary. I’ve previously had dinner and afternoon tea there and can confirm both were fabulous.
Feeling happy and full it was time to discover Dr Legba’s Emporium. The basement cocktail bar has a separate outside entrance which you step behind the door into a secret cocktail world, even the toilets are hidden behind a picture frame. As I’ve mentioned I’m from Southend and Dr Legba’s is unlike any bar in the area – in a good way. It comfortably holds around 35 people in dark, cosy corners and high stools overlooking the bar. Unlike the main cocktail bar, Dr Legba’s specialises in unique and bespoke drinks created by their specialist bartenders. It may also be the only time I’ve seen absinth used in a cocktail and not knocked back as a forfeit shot.
As I was driving I had the opportunity to try ‘The Bees Knees’ a non-alcoholic prosecco which goes through the same production process as actual prosecco, so tastes pretty similar. I usually turn my nose up at ‘non-alcoholic’ alternatives but this one was really good and extra bonus points for no beer fear or fuzzy head in the morning! Whilst sipping my sudo-prosecco Vicki was able to try the new champagne from Veuve Clicquot – Rich. Unlike normal champagne you drink Rich with ice and then a garnish such a black pepper (be warned lots of bits with this one), orange (probably the nicest) and cucumber. But, be warned the sugar content in Veuve Clicquot Rich is much higher than a standard champagne.
Again, another reason to question my blogger credentials I don’t like Espresso Martini’s so the salted caramel espresso Martini was not one for me, but I have it on good authority from the other ladies that it was divine.
Dr Legba’s is open Friday and Saturday nights and although you can’t reserve a table or area my top tip from the boss is get there slightly earlier as it doesn’t start to get really busy until about 8.30pm.
Grab that spot early because I can guarantee you’ll be in for the long haul!
* I was a guest of The Royal Hotel but all views and opinions expressed are my own