An Introduction

Being an Essex lad, born and bred I am heavily invested in the upkeep of Southend and the surrounding areas. I am in love with our little corner of the world and I want to make sure that it thrives! The intention of this article is to celebrate a few small, but hard-working establishments in the Southend area, which are independently run and deserve all the appreciation they can get. Each of these establishments are not as well-known as they could be and I want to change that. I would like to make it clear that these opinions are my own and I have not received any backhanders from any of these organisations… yet.

La Petite Petanque

There’s a lovely little area in Southend; the Clifftown conservation area, which is around 400m2 and within which, there can be found a very attractive bistro-cum-café called La Petite Petanque. As the restaurant sits within an old Boules club house, the name Petanque derives from a form of the French pastime. When visiting the area, you’d have absolutely no idea that you’re merely 250m away from the hustle and bustle of Southend High Street. It makes for a fantastic change!

Although upon entry it feels as though you should be immediately indulging in a slab of tasty coffeecake and sipping Darjeeling tea, this eatery offers a whole lot more… When we visited one lazy Sunday bank holiday afternoon, we drank nothing but Pimms and ordered the full roast beef with all the trimmings. Bloody lovely it was too! Just the right amount of gravy and a huge Yorkshire pudding.

As a head’s up; this place won’t stay secret for very long! It’s already racking up excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and we found out about the place from a chap in London town… Its reputation proceeds it!

You’ll find Le Petite Petanque in Cambridge Square Gardens, Southend or visit their website: http://www.lapetitepetanque.co.uk/

Read the Love Southend review of La Petite Petanque here!

Escape Live Essex

Recently I stumbled across a new form of entertainment right on Southend high street. Escape Live is a brand-new concept to me, you pay good money for a staff member to lock you in a dark room whilst you try to escape… If you win and manage to escape within one hour, they take your photograph and post it across their social media channels in celebration. If you lose… I’m not sure what happens!

I was sceptical at first, but it was great fun. We chose to go for the slightly “easier” room, Dr Wilsons Office. You work your way around this room, designed to look like a Victorian detective’s office (think Sherlock Holmes), and find clues to work out how to escape. I think I’m contractually obliged to not give away any details, but take it from me, it’s a blast!

With blood pumping in our ears our posse managed to escape the room with only four seconds to spare. It was a fantastic adrenaline rush!

Visit Escape Live Essex on Southend High Street, or visit their website: http://www.escapelive.co.uk/essex/escape-games.html

Mawson’s Micropub

Did you know that Southend has its own brewery? Well actually it’s in Great Wakering, which falls within the district of Rochford, but hey-ho! George’s brewery was named after the father of the local brewer and the micro-pub he has opened receives its name from his surname, Mawson.

Mawson’s Micropub sits along the East stretch of Southchurch Road in Southend East and if you blink, you’ll miss it. The whole pub has around 10 seats in it making it a very cosy facility. Mawson’s proudly issues the warning above the bar that you won’t find ‘no crap on tap’. Those looking for a cold pint of Fosters, may be found to be told to go forth and multiply. As well as pumping out delicious pints of its own product, including such favourites as Cockleboats and Broadswords, the place supplies more ales than there are chairs! Craft beer is no longer just for the hipsters of Shoreditch. It’s now firmly in Southend too!

Although not the only watering hole in the area pushing craft ales, it certainly deserves extra brownie points when you consider that they brew the stuff themselves (take that Wetherspoon’s!). You also have to appreciate the interior décor of the place too, which was clearly designed by the brewer himself. Finally, being such a small shop unit, Mawson’s definitely deserves a spot of the ‘Secret Southend’ list!

Mawson’s celebrates its first birthday in November 2016.

Pop in for a quick pint at Southchurch Road, Southend or visit www.georgesbrewery.com/mawsonsmicro-pub/

10 Green Bottles

As this list has proved so far, good things do indeed come in small packages and 10 Green Bottles is no exception. 10 Green Bottles is the music venue of Leigh on Sea! The whole bar is tiny, only encompassing one little shop unit. The unit has space for one 3 piece band, a bar and around 30 people standing.

The venue that sits hidden away in the triangular island between Rectory Grove, Elm Road and the Broadway, is in the perfect location for some post-dinner entertainment. As you can imagine, the bar gets extremely busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, especially when there’s entertainment – so be prepared to stand! 10 Green Bottles is the place to visit if you’re looking for some original live music and new-age jazz.

Those looking for a seat will welcome the news that the business has recently put in a planning application to expand into the unit next door.

Like the ’Ten Green Bottles’ Facebook page for information on upcoming live acts!

Hippo’s Sandwich Bar

I love a good sandwich! In my opinion, Hippo’s café makes the best sandwich in the whole of the Southend area. Hippo’s sandwich bar sits on Leigh Broadway opposite the aptly named Seaview Road so customers can get just that… a sea view (or an estuary view if you want to get technical!).

The sandwich bar delivers a fantastic meal, using locally baked bread and the club sandwich is a creation to be desired! Once again, Hippo’s is another ‘snack sized’ business on the Broadway and often has queues out the doors. Be advised to avoid Saturday lunchtimes if at all possible!

The café also offers a takeaway and (the last time I checked) a delivery service too!

The café has been established since 1999, so I highly suspect that it’s not as secret as I may have made out. But it’s a classic!

Hippo’s doesn’t currently have a website, probably because they’re too busy making you delicious sandwiches. Pop in for lunch at some point!

The Hive

Unlike the majority of the offices along Victoria Avenue, The Hive Enterprise Centre is very much alive and growing! The Hive offer flexible workspaces, unlike any other centre in all of Essex. The funky décor and list of added extras makes you feel like you’re in a hotel than an office space.

The Hive is hidden away on the second and third floors of the Old Central Library above the Beecroft Art Gallery, which only adds to the allure of this creative space.

On top of a cache of premier private office accommodation, the Hive also offers desks to business owners looking to work away from home in an open, professional environment. It’s the perfect location for start-ups looking to break into the business community, as most of your neighbours are all in the same boat! To enhance the communal experience the Hive often hosts various networking events and seminars too, which are completely free for members. Many of these events usually feature cake, which is an added bonus!

The Hive also offers several funky seminar spaces ranging from a 6-person private meeting space, to a 75-person theatre style conferencing room. These facilities are littered with cool, local art pieces – the perfect place to hold your next meeting!

Pop into the centre during any week day where I will happily give you a personal tour with a cup of tea and a biscuit or visit the website: www.thehive.org.uk for more information. If you’re interested in some more information on the free events hosted at the Hive visit www.thehive.org.uk/events.

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