Music was the food of love at the Royal Hotel when Edana Minghella and her band filled the conservatory with jazzy blues for a ‘Celebration of Love’ for Valentine’s Day, but the food was fantastic too. Edana’s sister Gioia Minghella had added a little Italian magic to the design of the menu and the result was a cornucopia of delicious tastes and textures.
Not surprisingly the restaurant was full for this special night, so much so that tables had to be made up in the hallway. There was a real cross section of diners, from young lovers to older couples and larger parties, and even family groups.
I had booked to attend with my nearest and dearest but he was in hospital with our son who had been relieved of his very swollen appendix the night before, so my good friend Lin stepped into the breach. I was very surprised to hear that Lin had never eaten at the Royal – just something that had been overlooked it seemed. So this was an ideal opportunity to remedy this situation.
First there were cocktails in the bar whilst the band played jazz instrumental music and everyone milled around in their finery. Everyone had made a real effort to dress up and the result was quite delightful – and very reminiscent of a bygone age. The Royal is such an ideal venue for any vintage style of entertainment, especially the beautiful conservatory where the band was playing.
Gradually the guests filed into the restaurant and were presented first with a starter selection of Italian antipasti that was almost a meal in itself, followed by a rich Tuscan fish soup with Ventnor Bay lobster and crab. Next was the main course: a choice of baked cod, roast suckling pig or ravioli filled with pumpkin, parmesan and truffle. We opted for the pork, which came on a bed of truffle potatoes with little pieces of cavolo nero and pancetta ham in it and a rosemary sauce.
And if you had any room after those three delicious courses there was a choice of Dolci (desserts) or Formaggio (cheeses). As we’re girls we opted for the desserts, which were a little round Riccotta cheesecake, a square of tiramisu and a noisette of Minghella hazelnut gelato surrounded by a crispy swirl. I didn’t have room to fit them in so I took my cheesecake and tiramisu home, which was very kindly boxed up for me. My son helped me to eat them the next day. After the sparse amounts of hospital food he’d been able to manage over the past two days I thought he needed a treat – and that is exactly what they were.
Lin was very impressed. “I’ve lived here a long time but I never got around to going to the Royal so it was my first Royal event and I loved it,” said Lin. “There was a very nice atmosphere. I liked going to the bar first and the fact that people were chatting across the tables and I was meeting new people.
“The food was excellent. There was an abundance of courses and each course was good in its own right and there were excellent, attentive staff, which makes such a difference these days. It was a very well thought out menu but I have to particularly mention the desserts, which were superb. It was lovely to get out on a dark February evening and have such a treat.”
After dinner the guests were treated to Edana Minghella singing with her band and it was lovely to see so many people dancing cheek to cheek.