The Royal Botanical
Leichhardt’s supine pub scene has been given an overhaul with this newly renovated historic bar.
Leichhardt’s supine pub scene has been given an overhaul with the newly renovated The Royal bringing back the historic hotel’s charm and charisma. The Royal Botanical, situated upstairs, is the schmick new dining room, bar and garden terrace that is offering up not only an appealing new menu, but also a welcoming venue at which to sample this fare. The layout of the main room is traditionally bistro-style, yet freshened up with hanging baskets and framed botanicals on the wall, as well as views over the district, should you nab a window seat. The sophisticated outdoor terrace is a horticulturalist's heaven — wall-to-wall plants and greenery make the covered space a verdant, airy alternative — especially in the warmer months.
Those seeking a change from Norton Street’s Italian flavour will be rewarded with a jazzed up menu that hasn’t boycotted the usual pub culprits. To start with, sharing plates such as the salt & pepper squid ($14) is a staple that can’t be missed, nor the potato wedges ($8) with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream (a match made in heaven). Even more tempting is a 1kg bucket of hot chicken wings ($17.50) — get your napkins ready, with flavours of coriander, chilli and lemon punching through, these are tasty sticklers.
For the main fare, hearty pub grub lives up to its name with the classic schnitzel ($19), or dressed up with chunky tomato sauce and melted cheddar to turn it into a parmi ($21). The royal burger ($17.50) is indulgently royal: with everything you could want in a burger, plus more, same with the pulled pork roll ($16.50). The sirloin steak ($24) will curb any appetite — nothing like a 300g Black Angus steak served with gravy and green beans on a bed of mash. As for something more refined, crispy skin salmon ($23) is perfectly seared, yet hungrier bellies may be craving that bed of mash to really hit the spot.
If you’ve got room for dessert ($11), go for it — the chocolate trifle will convert anybody who detests the old favourite. But our bet is that you’ll want to get started on the cocktails — the decent list has got numerous tantalizing options, all at reasonable prices. The Quince Cup ($14) is a sweet and fragrant blend of gin, pear, quince and lemon but it’s the Ginger Nut ($13) that’s the standout — Frangelico with vodka, apple juice, lemon and bitters shaken through, topped with ice cold ginger beer ($13). The bar also has a solid selection of craft beers and top notch wines from Australia- a Mr Riggs shiraz from McLaren Vale is a tasty drop at $8 a glass and the Margaret River Semillon sav blanc ($8/$38) is delicate, yet balanced with a fresh acidity.
Needless to say, the hotel — which has been a part of Leichhardt’s fabric since 1886 — has been spruced up a notch, yet managed to stick to its customary roots with class.