Food cooking and eating – stories and ideas from a passionate foodie

Posts tagged ‘gastro-pub’

Birthday Dinner – Royal Oak, Marlow

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).

Gloucester Old Spot – a great gastro-pub

The Gloucester Old Spot is in a village called Elmstone Hardwicke.  I think this sounds too much like that great Glen Campbell classic “Like a Rhinestone Cowboy”  So, I never miss the opportunity to sing “Like an Elmstone Hardwicke’ whenever we pass through the village.  Sad, I know.  No-one laughs.  But it makes me smile.

Have a look at the web-site

As you can see, a lovely looking pub.  The main dining room is a Baronial Hall, complete with large country house paintings.  Quite a setting – and they do hire it out for any sort of function.

Food is great modern British.  And biased towards the staple of medieval diets onwards – the pig!  (Look, The Gloucester Old Spot is not going to be a vegetarian restaurant, is it?) (But they do have excellent vegetarian options).  Starters and mains were the fancied combination of all 6 diners in our party.  It feels savoury, not sweet as a place.  Soups – parsnip and nutmeg – went down well.  Poached egg, ham and hollandaise – dreamy and timed well.  Seared pigeon breast – actually cooked through for once – which I prefer (and chefs will accommodate your needs here).  Mains – Guinea fowl with home-made haggis – how wonderfully wintry!   I had to have the Old Spot Pork Belly – boned and slow cooked.  It was honey on a plate.  And robust.  Grilled plaice fillets with a parsley and lemon crust with a chowder made of mussels, smoked haddock and leek had me searching for an excuse to swap meals.  Isn’t it annoying how often that happens? It was just cooked, and infused beautifully

Unusually, the choice of vegetables is included – choose 2 of chips, Dauphinoise potatoes, seasonal veg or salad.  The robust duaphinoise went wonderfully heavily with our pork belly.  Coffee was as good as we could manage afterwards!

Book.  It’s worth it.  They do a two course lunch for 12.50 during the week, too.  And there may be Gloucester Old Spot on the menu!

Old Spot Exterior

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