Oliver's on the Beach is perched right on Western Esplanade with stunning views of the ever-changing estuary.

It is so close to the water in fact, that in February 2020 it was flooded all around as a result of Storm Ciara.

I went to visit there on a cloudy but bright day when the estuary was calm and silvery grey. 

Run by Jamie’s uncle and aunt, Colin Oliver and Marianne Leggett, they specialise in an extensive menu of breakfasts and brunches.

Echo: Estuary views - Colin OliverEstuary views - Colin Oliver (Image: Newsquest staff)

It was in 2015 that TV chef Jamie Oliver’s family refurbished the former KJ’s kiosk and made it into a rustic chic cafe.

It is not the first venture in Southend for the Oliver family and Jamie Oliver filmed a regular programme for Channel 4 in a cafe on the pier called Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast between 2014 to 2021 which saw the likes of Usain Bolt, Danny De Vito, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gary Barlow visit.

News came this month that the café, which is currently operating as Tea With The Tide, is being marketed by Dedman Gray on behalf of Southend Council.

Walking into Oliver’s on the Beach, the first thing that confronts you is the panoramic view of the estuary.

Echo: Western Esplanade cafe - Oliver's on the BeachWestern Esplanade cafe - Oliver's on the Beach (Image: Newsquest staff)

Colin is there on the day and takes some time out to speak to me.

“Even on a windy, cold day it is beautiful looking out at the water,” said Colin, who co-founded the business eight years ago.

“It’s all about great produce, excellent customer service- and great staff in the kitchen in front of house.”

He previously ran the Chequers Inn, in Canewdon, and the Cherry Tree pub, Rochford.

Taste test

There is a lot of choice on the breakfast menu including Mexican tortillas, smoked haddock with poached egg and Welsh Rarebit.

I opted for a BLT sandwich from the takeaway menu.

A lot can go wrong with a BLT. Flabby bacon or limp lettuce are all factors that can cause a sandwich disaster. Which is why I was interested to see how the Oliver’s do it.

Echo: BLT winner - a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich off the takeaway menuBLT winner - a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich off the takeaway menu (Image: Newsquest staff)

I should not have worried, when I opened the tin foil parcel what awaited me was soft granary bread with a chewy crust, quality bacon, nicely charred, one crisp iceberg lettuce leaf and a sliver of tomato.

By limiting the amount of salad in the sandwich it kept its crunch and the salty bacon hit made it a winning BLT for me.

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