On this particular Sunday, the gf and I headed to the Royal Oak to try out their delicious looking roasts. Standing guard over one end of Columbia Road, the Royal Oak has the look and feel of an established boozer, yet the kitchen served up a mix of British classics and more modern takes. The staff are friendly and up for a chat and the pub itself is very dog friendly – as evidenced by the number of pooches hanging out including one very large guy who tried to snag my Yorkshire pudding!
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
Odds are you are here on a Sunday and what better way to kill some time than to wander the flower markets. Yes, they are crowded to the point any movement is a challenge but on a bright sunny day there is little that can beat the vibrant colors of the market. Pop into one of the cute vintage stores (open all week) that line the street and you’ll probably end up with a few extra teacups or glasses.
If you fancy a coffee, keep an eye out for the stalls that are quite literally set into narrow alleyways. When in doubt, follow your nose to the source of the smell of dark roasted beans. There are at least a couple hiding around here and the coffee itself is pretty good.
What to eat?
We were here for a more traditional roast, but at quarter to 12 the menu was still being written on the board and we realized the pub didn’t actually open until noon.
So we popped out to @1235donuts for a quick snack (we’re cool like that). Another challenging one to find, @1235donuts serves up baked goods of the filled bun variety rather than the hole in the middle. We grabbed a trio of donuts (chocolate, coffee, and lemon curd) to try – all three of which were tasty but the lemon curd stood out for the fresh tangy flavor and the coffee was a great balance of sweet and bitter to act as an amuse bouche.
Back at the Royal Oak, we quickly grabbed a sunshine filled table and ordered a Sirloin roast and a side of triple cooked chips. The sirloin itself was a massive slab of meat cooked medium and fairly tender and juicy. Combined with the gravy, it was delicious and went down a treat. The steamed greens also absorbed the gravy which added to the allure while the roast potatoes were heavily crisped – something I love but the gf found a tad too much. The only element that seemed out of place was the carrot crush – a mustard and shredded carrot mash that turned into a jarring contradiction of sweet and wasabi-type spicy. If we’d gotten rid of that and added more greens, the roast would have been near perfect.
The triple cooked chips were excellent and almost on par with the ones Heston B serves up at the Hind’s Head and Dinner. Incredibly crispy, they still maintained a good fluffy center that also soaked up some gravy. I was tempted to grab a sticky toffee pudding as well but, in an effort to retain some benefit from our pre-roast run, I abstained. It looked damn good on the table next to us though!
Feel like a drink?
Well who doesn’t? The Royal Oak has the usual range of proper British lagers and ales although keep in mind this isn’t a cookie cutter Spoons-type place to expect to get a pint a notch above the normal. I opted for a pint of Weston’s cider which was nicely balanced (I find Magners/Bulmers far too sweet) and refreshing after the heat of the run in the sun.
There is a full bar and a pretty strong wine selection so there is something for everyone. Naturally, there aren’t any fancy cocktails on the menu but the staff can whip up the simpler drinks if you want.
Worth the dosh?
It’s on the pricier end of the range for Sunday roasts with our sirloin roast ringing in at £19 and the total bill for the roast, chips, and a pint being just over £26. It’s tasty and good for a treat but probably not a regular spot for me. While it was enough for the two of us to share, undoubtedly the three donuts helped there, and £20+ for a Sunday roast is a bit much.
Find Royal Oak here
73 Columbia Road, E2 7RG
020 7729 2220