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SANDS has been on my “to go” list for a while and Bank Holiday Monday seemed to be the perfect day.

We had friends visiting from up north and decided to show them the best Southend had to offer.

After a trip up the pier and a Rossi ice cream, we called in at Sands Bistro on the seafront for a bite to eat.

We were given the choice of eating inside or outside on the new, partially covered terrace area. As the weather was fine, we chose a seat on the terrace overlooking the estuary.

After ordering a couple of beers and mojitos from the chatty bar staff, we chose our starters, which arrived quickly.

I wasn’t too impressed with my duck salad – it’s probably too rich for a starter.

My other half’s Waldorf salad was a hit, however, and my friend’s risotto went down well.

Her boyfriend’s baked Camembert was the best of the four, coming with a selection of fancy breads, and it was, as described on the menu, “oozing”.

For mains,I chose a plain burger, although asked for a normal bun rather than a brioche one, as I don’t like the buttery bread. Unfortunately, they couldn’t offer me anything else, so I had a rather sorry-looking burger on its own! My friend’s boyfriend enjoyed his though, heaped with cheese and bacon.

The boy had a steak – medium rare – which was cooked to perfection, but with a heap of onion on top. He enjoyed the steak, but said the buttered onions would have been better in a different pot.

My friend had the carbonara and loved its creamy sauce.

The portions were generous to say the least.

Service was excellent and the waiting staff and bar staff seemed genuinely happy to serve. A particular highlight were the two chaps at the bar who whipped up a few special cocktails for us.

The only downside on service is that you have to order and pay at the bar yourself.

The food is decent and the location and views fabulous.