date of visit: Saturday 19 November 2011
A recent, quickly organised, family get together saw a group of 8 of us book ourselves into the Hotel Royal, on Henley Beach Road, for a late lunch/afternoon tea. Our main requirement was that wherever we went had to be close to my grandma’s house and capable of accommodating an age range from less than 1 to more than 90. So our focus was less than gastronomic!
The hotel advised it was best to book but when we arrived at 2pm the bistro was mostly empty and our table hadn’t been set up. Only one person was manning the bar and I felt a bit sorry for him because he seemed a little bit run off his feet. He apologised for our table not being set up and rushed off to get us a high chair, then taking the time to wipe it over in front of us (it already looked spotless).
We all settled in and got down to the important business of talking, followed by deciding what to eat. While the Hotel Royal doesn’t offer coffee and cakes, as such, if you are there during service hours (lunch is 12-3pm) you are more than welcome to order from the dessert menu. So you can sort of do afternoon tea. This flexibility worked really well for us – I ordered the sticky toffee pudding, two people shared the whiting, we had serve of chips, and some people shared dips. Quite a mish-mash!
The food wasn’t perfect – but then it was exactly what you’d expect from a reasonably standard pub menu. The portion of whiting was generous, if a little too heavy on the batter. The vanilla ice cream with the sticky toffee pudding was definitely the best part of the dish – the pudding itself was a strange combination of being a little too stodgy but also a little too springy. But it was also only $6.50.
While some aspects of the service were a little slow (for example, the menus took a little while to arrive) as a rule the service was very good. The young man behind the bar, who did most of the work, was pleasant and extremely helpful. Without prompting he brought out children’s and seniors’ menus and when unable to find a cushion for my grandma he offered to bring different chairs for her to try out. That kind of attention to detail makes me feel that even commenting on the wait for the menus somewhat churlish!
If you’re looking for a pub lunch just out of the city (or perhaps dinner, before going to Thebby Theatre), you could certainly do a lot worse than the Hotel Royal.