The Royal Leichhardt Hotel, a gem among locals.
The Royal Leichhardt Hotel, a grand heritage-style structure, welcomes you to one of the best balcony views in all of the Inner West. Having recently undergone a restoration of the hotel’s exterior, the Royal has reclaimed its original Victorian grandeur of the 1930s. The major transformation spanning over the past few months, also includes an expansion of the public bar on the ground floor and the addition of an upstairs bar. For all of us who hibernated as soon as the sun went down in March, the heritage balcony is thankfully fully equipped with heating lamps and blankets, making this an all-weather and year-long watering hole.
Upon arriving, my date and I were comfortably seated on the upstairs Botanical balcony on a busy Wednesday evening. We quickly realised that a round of cocktails was necessary, ordering Life’s A Beach ($16) and Forbidden Fruit ($16). The Life’s A Beach featured as well balanced a combination of Pampero Blanco rum, St Germain, fresh basil, pineapple and lime juice. With each sip, it proved to go down all too easily. The addition of basil, an interesting one which worked exceptionally well in contrast to the sweet pineapple and tangy lime. In the Forbidden Fruit cocktail, a mixture of Tanqueray gin, St Germain, rosemary syrup, grapefruit and lime juice. Once again, these flavours worked well together, making for an easy-drinking cocktail to start the night off. With cocktails in tote, we continued to indulge what might be one of the best people-watching spots in all of Leichhardt. Overlooking Norton Street, the Royal is perfectly positioned to play “I Spy”, as the busy street below is crowded with locals, arriving just in time for Happy Hour.
For starters, we indulged in what I consider to be the best steamed prawn dumplings ($3 a piece) I’ve ever had. Served up with house soy, the encased prawns were lovely and plump, enveloped in a thin dumpling skin. We also had a serve of the mushroom arancini ($4 a piece), which was accompanied by a creamy truffled parmesan mayo. Again, the arancini were lovely and crispy, the earthy aromas of the truffle mayo working in perfect harmony. In a jungle of dietary requirements, allergies and fear of gluten, the Royal has upped their menu game adding codes to each dish, indicating who should perhaps steer clear. This including (nf) = nut free (gf) = gluten free (df) = dairy free (v) = vegetarian (c) = coeliac. Nifty, no?
Despite the make-over, The Royal’s favourite pub classics remain, fronting a a range of burgers, schnitzels and meats from the grill with your choice of sides and sauces. Feeling adventurous, we ordered the pan fried salmon fillet, served with clams, ham hock broth, green peas, heirloom carrots and brussel sprouts ($28) and the half jerk spiced chicken, roasted potato salad, seasonal beans & vierge ($22). The jerk spiced chicken, you ask? An absolute winner.
The cocktails, Life’s A Beach ($16) and Forbidden Fruit ($16), are just two examples of how The Royal Leichhardt really has outdone themselves with a play on flavours. With their own botanical twists on both the classic Negroni, the Mezcal Negroni, ($15) and the mojito, Bowza Mojito ($16), there’s really no reason as to why you should not consider this visit as a little mini-holiday.
Upon departing The Royal Leichhardt, we end up getting caught in main bar’s Thursday Trivia. Could this get any better? Team Eat Drink Play reports for duty!
The Royal Leichhardt
156 Norton Street, Leichhardt NSW 2040
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am till midnight.