As I’ve got older, I’ve realised I don’t see my grandparents nearly enough. Working long hours Monday to Friday and having a social life at the weekend means I barely have time for family. I should see them more often, even if it means using a day’s holiday to go round and catch up.
A couple of weekends ago, my brother and I decided to visit them, share photos from our respective holidays and then take them out for lunch. Robert had booked a table at The Royal Oak in Rochford, not too far from where they live in Hullbridge – and he was designated driver, meaning I could enjoy a large glass of pinot grigio blush!
Upon arrival, we were shown to the restaurant, where we were the only people dining – everyone else was in the bar area, which was fairly cosy. Thankfully, a couple of other parties later arrived – although I did like that we were able to hold a conversation without heavy background noise and laughter. Our waitress was friendly and bubbly; she was patient with Grandad and even recommended a number of dishes. I wish we’d got her name, as she was just fabulous – and efficient, bearing in mind there were many tables in the bar area to also serve.
The menu was extensive and we were given the options of the a la carte, bar menu and the specials board – certainly spoilt for choice. Following our waitress’ suggestion, my brother and Nan both went for the ‘pie of the day’. I actually may have some competition, as Robert sent me the following: I never normally go for a pie... it's never really an exciting option I find. But having looked at the extensive and exciting menu, my eyes kept going back to this slow cooked lamb pie. Homemade. My Nan said she was going for that, so I knew it would be a winner. Served with vegetables, there was the choice of mash or chips – as I was going outside my comfort zone by ordering pie in the first place, I thought, what the heck, I'll go for mash. It didn't disappoint, huge chunks of melt in the mouth lamb were encased in a crispy solid pie shell. Little carrots (my fave) and green beans on the side, and a yummy gravy all over. Hungry yet?
Grandad had one of his favourites – scampi and chips, with garden peas. I couldn’t decide from a number of dishes, so had a bit of a panic when the waitress came over and everyone else was ready to order. I decided upon the Thai curry on the specials board: a red curry containing king prawn and monkfish, served with sticky rice and vegetable spring rolls. The fish and seafood was cooked perfectly and the sauce had the right amount of heat, with the coconut milk balancing it nicely. The Royal Oak certainly don’t scrimp on the portion sizes – I had enough food to feed two. But the prices are more than reasonable, the pies were only £10 each and my main meal was £14.
Despite being unable to finish, we all had room for dessert (shock!). Both my grandparents chose Calypso coffees, while Robert and I had cheesecakes. I had the toffee apple variety from the dessert menu, which was absolutely lush. The cream cheese layer was thick, the apples perfectly sliced and the toffee sauce wasn’t too sweet. I did get a little food envy when Robert’s ‘specials’ cheesecake slice arrived – containing mini Oreo cookies within the cheese layer, sandwiched between crushed biscuits and served with Oreo ice cream, it looked absolutely divine. I couldn’t resist but to try a spoonful and it was beautiful – although I don’t think I could have eaten the whole plate.
For a family meal, or casual affair, I couldn’t recommend The Royal Oak more. There isn’t really much to do in Stambridge, but for a 10-minute ride, it wasn’t a bad choice.
Love, Lucy xx