A Royally great time

The Royal Hotel
770 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited March ’17)

Minutes before we were due to head out of the house that Tuesday night for dinner, we looked out the window… and saw a storm about to unleash. The weather report had warned of extreme weather and rain, and the south-east was about to cop it, BAD. We stood there, already dressed, asking ourselves “Should we just stay in?” Was it worth going out when the weather was going to be so terrible – hell, even dangerous to drive in?

But then, we realised what we were saying. I mean, what, the weather was going to hold us back? Since when? No bloody way. Besides, we were locals now. We’d be in the car, driving an average of 40ks, for 5 minutes, tops.

So how lucky we were then, to arrive at The Royal Hotel and find a park right out the front. Try to get us now Rain.

Although a neighbour to Kirks and also on the Esplanade, both establishments sharing amazing bay views, the feel of the Royal Hotel is completely different. And understandably, why would they want to modernise the place when its history holds such Royal ties? Inside it is all white with seemingly freshly-painted interiors, however unlike the sweeping views from Kirks of a full-length windowed wall allowing uninterrupted views from almost wherever you sit, here at the Royal the windows were small, possibly the same as they had always been, and though from there you could also see out towards the bay, you really had to be near them to get that beautiful view.

Intricate ceiling and wall detail, arches, and pillars that separated the left side of the room from the right: both sides that appeared to have been former large living quarters, with a large bar in the centre towards the right of the room, and a staircase leading up from the centre, this hotel had been transformed with a recent facelift, but the old-style feel remained, and it oozed character. You could just see how this place had been in existence over a century ago, at a time of horse and carriage, and adding to this vibe was one more, fairly prevalent thing: the musty smell.

It actually smelt like an old hotel. But not in a rotting, outdated, unclean way. It smelt earthy, original, and very very cool.

The hotel was renamed to its current name after a visit from Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred. Remaining a site of enjoyment for some of the finest members of ‘societe’ over the years, it is clear to see this reflective in the current day interior retaining old-world charm, and why it has continued to hold onto its strong and proud ties to its noble past.

The hotel shows its age with its great, expansive spaces, something I learnt soon after as I took baby girl to the bathroom… on the way there and to your left, is the open-view kitchen that allows you to look in and see the chefs at work. And in the bathroom itself, old-world grandiose continues in the little details, fixtures and fittings, with large amenities too. New hotels are not the size that these magnificent pieces of history are. You can tell this is an old, old building, in the most fabulous and appreciative of ways.

The hotel is open 365 days a year and as well as having rooms for accommodation, it also has the fine restaurant we dined at that Tuesday evening in March.

We were showed to a table that wasn’t in front of the ‘bay’ window, but we could see out through it still from our distance… instead we had a window that showed out the side towards Kirks, and it was nice to see that while we were deliciously snug, it was rainy out.

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I had called that day to see if we needed to book ahead, and I think being a non-peak season period the man suggested it was ok if we just ‘rocked up’ as I would say, or ‘arrived,’ as he probably would.

We were brought menus and ordered our drinks, but realised fairly soon after our French-looking waiter disappeared for a while, that we actually had to go up to the counter and pay and order for ourselves.

We got beer and a Kuku Pinot Noir to start

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while baby girl entertained herself with some pencils and colouring paper brought over by French-man. It was fairly quiet at this stage, so it felt super library-like, and I was super-freaking out over any outbursts baby girl would make. More on that later.

After not too long a wait (there weren’t many people there so it was to be expected) we received our meals:

Baby girl’s Crumbed chicken strips with fries & vegies

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Hubbie got the Murray Valley Port cutlet, mash potatoes, green beans, walnut & parsley salsa with red wine jus

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While I got the Malaysian chicken curry, jasmine rice & roti bread

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So I’ll start with baby girl, and her meal was fantastic. I was really pleased to see something other than the usual chicken and chips on her plate, and it was vegetables! And green ones at that! When provided with chips I know she will prevail on that, but she is a good eater and at home she eats her vegies… so when given the option, she will graze slightly, and so she did that night. She ate the chips and chicken alright, but she also had her broccoli, and that just makes any Mum happy. The food on offer was real, and didn’t look like crappy offcuts or leftovers, so that made me doubly happy.

Hubbie enjoyed his Pork cutlet, and it showed in how clean the plate was on removal… the only thing that wasn’t to taste was the red wine jus, he thought the marinade had burnt, as there was a slightly off-putting taste to it. If it weren’t for that, top marks from that fussy butcher Hubbie of mine.

And, leaving the best ‘til last… my meal was amazing. The highest honours, if only for that. The chicken was falling apart, it was succulent and soft and delicious. The jasmine rice in the banana leaf I believe, was very appealing and looked great, and then there was that roti bread. Drool. Oh man, if this is what all roti bread tastes like, I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. Of course the next roti bread I have elsewhere will not be up to scratch, I guarantee. But this roti bread was warm, puffed up, stretchy and soft. We all had some, I actually don’t know why I decided to share it as much as I did… maybe it was because I wanted to share my sudden intense love for roti bread… but they all concurred with me that it was definitely mmm-worthy.

I cleaned up my plate, easily.

Dinner had been yummo. I would have gladly stayed on for dessert, but for some reason baby girl just wasn’t working with us, and the other diners were now looking over… grrr argh. Great food, but snob-central. That night at least, we would have to give coffee and cake a Rain-check, so to speak.

Food: 9.5/10. Sensational. Fresh and delicious.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Quiet, library-like when there are not many diners present. You can feel the character of the hotel and so silence is almost necessary to sit and soak up the chapters of history that have unfolded there.

Staff: We really only dealt with French-man, and he was fine, very concerned about doing his job properly, ‘to the book.’ But good.

People: We didn’t come across many. There was an old gentleman dining on his own who left before we did; a few couples beside the long-desired for window seats; and towards the end of our meal a rowdy American family sat near us, and this made me happy as their business and family talk almost blocked out any of the noises that baby girl was sporadically exploding with. I say almost, because she was still loud, and there was a couple, what looked like a 30-something woman with a 50-something man, who gave us ‘looks,’ staring pointedly when baby girl would yell out. Well, you all know how happy I am about ‘looks.’ I gave her a really good one as we exited the hotel, making sure she caught full well my intention… her rudeness and the library-vibe was the only thing that made the night difficult, as even though there is a kids meal section, and colouring and pencils for the kids, well unless they are in a straight-jacket, I don’t know quite how accepted they are there…

Price: $95ish for the lot. For 3 meals, and 3 drinks. The prices were slightlyon the upside, but the food was most definitely worth every delicious morsel I mean coin.

Advice: Book ahead if you want to sit by the window. Order the Malaysian chicken curry (you won’t be sorry). Maybe go at a peak time if you don’t want to deal with snot-faced moles when your child decides to you know, have a voice, and just generally be a child. F*&k me.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, as Hubbie did too. The character and the food both won us over, but I wouldn’t hurry back (even though the Malaysian chicken is calling me), only because I am afraid of the too-quiet ambience and how that gels with a generally rambunctious and full-of-life baby girl.

I do highly recommend it to anyone else thinking of giving it a go, as I think the food and the atmosphere are something unique to be experienced. Stepping over the threshold where a royal has, is reason enough.

*UPDATE*

A year later, and back we went. And guess what? This is my new fave. The food yet again, amazing. And the alternative to possible snobby people inside?

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Sit outside. Ahhh.

The Royal Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Things that shit me… #15

Things that shit me…

People that get my coffee order wrong… and then give me ‘squinty eye.’

No, I am not an unforgiving, bitch-face, rigid, uncompromising, cold person who doesn’t realise people can get things wrong.

We are all human. I get things wrong too.

But when someone makes an error, and makes it out to be my fault… and it collides with one of my loves, coffee…

WATCH OUT.

Today I ordered at the café I always get my afternoon coffee at when I have a late shift at work. I walked in, an easy 20 minutes before starting time, happy that today, unlike other days, I wouldn’t be rushing. I was on time. I was even, if you can say, early.

I placed my usual coffee order of ‘medium cap with one’ with a newish-looking lady there, and then stood back to wait. It was 50 cents dearer today, but who knows, maybe the price had gone up in the few weeks since I had last had an afternoon shift.

The barista, who was not new, looked up at me, with some slight hesitation when she called out a coffee order only moments later.

I heard her say ‘cap,’ and ‘one sugar,’ but what was that other nonsense? I moved closer.

“Almond milk cappuccino with one sugar?”

I shook my head.

“No, I ordered a medium cap with one sugar.”

The newish woman was behind her, and hearing the exchange, made a confused, squinty, almost “okkkkaaaaayyyy nnnnoooooowwwwww!” face as the barista spilt out the whole almond milk cap, only to start again.

Almond milk cappuccino lady? I had ordered a medium cappuccino! She had mis-heard me, and as I watched, continued to keep this confused, squinty look on her face the whole time, as the barista recommenced my order.

I kept staring at her. This squinty-faced newish lady did not look at me. She didn’t call out a ‘sorry-for-the-inconvenience-of-waiting-for-another-one-in-lieu-of-my-f&%k-up’; she didn’t even smile apologetically. She just stood there in the background, watching the barista fix her mistake, without so much as an acknowledgement to me.

And when my ‘med cap with one’ was called out, I confirmed it definitely was that, before adding “I paid $5.00 for my coffee, do I need to get any money back?”

The barista nodded she would fix it up, and asked squinty-faced newish lady to go get me my 50 cents. And then walking over, she handed it to me, without so much as anything remotely offering consolation on her part. I said “thanks,” when really I wanted to thank her by removing that ill-placed confusion from her face.

She stuffed up my order, AND didn’t care to give me my money back?

I don’t expect the right royal red carpet of apologies when someone gets something wrong. I don’t expect them to mutter sorry repeatedly under their breath either. Nor do I think they should be kissing my feet and begging for my forgiveness.

All I am asking for is recognition and accountability. When someone can’t even give a small “whoops, sorry, my bad!” and a wave of their hand, and still they make me feel like it was ME…

Sorry, I’m OUT. When you get shit service like that, don’t be surprised when people walk… Looking for a new coffee place, because…

When people get my coffee wrong and aren’t even sorry for it, that really SHITS ME.

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Barbie dolls and March 8th

I sat with baby girl today playing with her dolls. Not that it’s an unusual thing – she asks me to play with all her Barbies and Disney princesses on a regular basis.

But today was a different day. Today was International Women’s Day.

This thought crossed my mind as I held the Anna Frozen doll, and she held the Elsa one. Sure, she was playing with Barbies. Barbies were typically portrayed as superficial dolls, dolls that until recent decades were typically associated with outdated and traditional personas, such as the trophy wife, not to mention their unrealistic and out-of-proportion body appearance and emphasis on the materialistic.

I wasn’t concerned, in the least. You know, the way a lot of ‘socially aware’ parents are nowadays. Baby girl played in the most well-rounded way. Sure she had her dolls. When she wasn’t playing with them, she was jumping on her trampoline. Kicking a ball. Playing catch with one of us. Drawing. Pasting and cutting. Looking through books. Watching Moana for about the millionth time (current phase). Loading her Shopkins into miniature bags for me to find later.

Basically, she wasn’t limited to one activity.

Still, I was aware. Aware of the youtube videos she watched of young girls playing with dolls, which she would then imitate. The dolls going out shopping. The dolls having tea. The dolls having an argument, and then making up. The dolls jumping in the pool. The dolls complimenting each other on their outfits.

So when baby girl stood one of her Barbie dolls on top of a plastic kitchen, and started yelling out “help me Ken, help!” being the day it was and all, I decided to change the rules.

The old rules. Of the weak girl. The strong male who swoops in to save the day.

Basically, the boy ‘hero’ image, versus the girl ‘weak’ image.

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“Save me, save me Ken!” she shrieked.

“No Barbie,” I held Ken and put on my most manliest of manly voices. “Barbie you’re a strong girl, you can do it yourself. Just jump Barbie.”

“No, no, it’s too high to jump!”

“Just jump to the middle Barbie,” I urged.

I watched humorously as baby girl took the Barbie to the middle shelf of the kitchen, before getting her to make one last jump to the carpet below.

“Yeah, you did it Barbie, well done,” ‘Ken’ told Barbie, as I smiled.

And then, a thought. Sure, baby girl watched these videos where the dolls did all girly things and needed occasional ‘saving.’

She was happily naïve – she did not know about the world we live in.

A world where there is discrimination against women.

A world where there is a pay gap.

A world where the general population pity the man and verbally slam the woman over the same activity.

A world where women cannot do certain things, because it is considered not acceptable for them to do so due to their gender, or even moreover, because they themselves don’t believe they can do it.

I was happy, because I knew in that moment, that this world didn’t exist for her. She was too young to know about it, or understand it at all.

And then, another thought. 

With the rise of the Time’s Up movement, a greater push and awareness of gender inequality and discrimination, and the increasing focus on women’s events, rights, and days such as International Women’s Day, my thought was…

She may never know.

She might never ever live to experience inequality.

She might never come across the excuse, “he’s just being a boy.”

She might never be told she can’t do something because it’s a man’s job.

She might be paid just as much, if not more, than her male friends when they enter the workforce.

She might just live her life with the same experience as every other being on this planet should experience: with fairness and an open heart.

She might live her life, without any focus on her female attributes.

Can you just imagine?  

The thought brought me so much joy at the Hope it promised. Now that’s something to strive towards…

Let’s make it happen for the next generation…

So when you are playing Barbies with the little people in your life, remember, it’s not what you play, it’s HOW you play…

And how you play, is Everyone saves themselves, because they are damn well strong, confident, positive and determined enough to.

Happy International Women’s Day ♥♥♥