The Royal Oak, Marlow. Quite a common name for a pub – I think maybe The Red Lion and The Kings Head beat it with numbers – but not with food at this place!
Yes – been before (including for my 50th birthday). Management has changed over the years, but the passion and style haven’t.
This is another place that does that small plate thing. I’m all for that at lunch times – we do have the three plates between two quite often. Thus was a blow out evening though. 7.45 to 11. Always a bad sign when the drinkers order a taxi before they imbibe the first sip. They were on a mission to make the most of the car keys being left at home.
Chris had his drinking head on – and an old-fashioned one at that. “It’s traditional for the men to take the birthday boy to the bar for pre-prandials”. I think the tradition had only just been invented, really! A swift half, then the food started.
We shared 3 starters and some home cooked breads with a whole roasted and smoked garlic globe. Vampires were nowhere to be seen. Liver pate, grilled haloumi and deep-fried whitebait gave us all a little taster.
3 had medium grilled Rib Eye steaks – all different (two with the garlic butter, one with fat chips). I know it’s easy really, but it still impresses me when the waiters and chefs get it right. One had slow cooked pork below (described with silence – and coo-ing noises: always a good sign), Jane had baked hake , and I had Duck Breast. The meals are always a well thought out plate of complementary items. You don’t really need more. The pork came with polenta and tiny mixed veg, my duck with wilted spinach and potato cake, and the fish with real mashed spud. All the sauces are well reduced too. OK – none of this is rocket science, but the attention to getting the plate right and well thought out does make a big difference to the outcome. And the enjoyment.
The Italian Merlot was excellent. especially the fourth bottle. As was the cheese board and the one pudding (for greedy birthday boy) – baked custard tart with poached rhubarb and clotted cream. What’s not to love? Brandies, coffees and taxis – the favoured finishing trio.
You can see why The Royal Oak has been awarded Buckinghamshire Dining Pub of the year by the Good Pub Guide for 2012. Book now, or forever wonder. 01628 48 86 11. Enjoy – we did (again).