I was invited to lunch with some friends and they suggested we go to The Royal Oak, I have been here a few times before and so I was quite happy to go along and even squeeze in a Lady Does Lunch review. I arrived, with camera in hand for 12.30 to this beautiful pub festooned with flowers, I particularly like that the car park is quite large and free to use. We walked inside and already the dining area was well attended, our friends had grabbed a table by the bar so we ordered drinks and sat down. Mike, the Landlord arrived with some menus and invited us to also have a look at the specials on the blackboards near the fire.
We spent some time chatting across the menus and I went to have a look at the specials with one of my friends, there were so many yummy sounding things to choose from. Everyone wanted a starter apart from me, so I just opted for some bread and butter so I wasn’t sat watching everyone eat, all three of my friends decided they would like the camembert to start, we did check the portions weren’t as big as the one we had last week at The White Lion in Wherwell (Review HERE) but these were a more perfect size for a starter.
For my main, I ordered the Broughton Buffalo Burger, my friends ordered the Thai Fish Cakes, a Chicken Vindaloo which wasn’t on the menu but Mike cooks himself and who my friend says is the best Vindaloo he has had – EVER! My usual companion on my Lady Does Lunch forays chose the Rib Eye Steak.
We were able to sit and chat for a while before the starters arrived, they all came out at the same time. The food was all presented in a lovely manner and the small camembert boxes were quite cute, they weren’t over infused with garlic and rosemary and had a slight hint of it running through the cheese, the bread was sliced ciabatta and it was also served with lovely peppery rocket leaves, which complimented the cheese and ciabatta perfectly. I had a few slices of baguette bread and some butter, which was a little hard and difficult to spread, but the bread was fresh and delicious and I got there in the end. The plates were cleared away promptly and we had a fair wait for the mains, but I quite like this when I am out for a leisurely lunch with friends.
The mains arrived, again all at the same time, the smell was wonderous, my Buffalo Burger came with lots of cheese and a chilli sauce inside and was served with sweet potato fries and fresh rocket, I cut the burger in half so that it was easier to eat, I can’t eat burgers in buns with a knife and fork, its all about the hands! The meat was thankfully cooked through, (if you read my reviews, you will know that raw burgers is a bug bear of mine) so I was relieved to see the cooked meat, on taking a bite, it was juicy and fresh, there is a really nice, almost smoky taste to these buffalo burgers which is complimented by the sweet chilli sauce. The fries are just perfect and this is the first place I had ever tried sweet potato chips, they are a really yummy accompaniment to the burger and I cheekily dipped one into my friends Wild Mushroom sauce that smothered his Rib Eye Steak – it was delicious!
The Rib Eye Steak, as mentioned was covered in a smoky wild mushroom sauce, this also hid the rosti that the steak was sitting on, the blackboard promised vegetables and my friend when ordering, asked that he not have the cauliflower on offer that day and was only expecting carrots and broccoli, however he was also given peas which was a pleasant surprise. All of the vegetables were cooked perfectly, not soft and soggy and not too hard. My friend did not need to use a steak knife as it literally fell apart under a normal knife, a true sign of a great steak.
The Vindaloo as I said before is a favourite, described by my friend as having a fragrant heat, I had a little taste and was a bit scared as I do not really like hot curries and the word vindaloo fills me with fear, however, whilst you can feel the heat of the curry, it is a building heat that does not burn, it is gentle and completely edible, the heat lasts on the palette and the remaining taste continues to tantalise and tickle the mouth. Served with home-made poppadom and naan bread as well as boiled fluffy rice and an onion bhaji, this really is a great place to go for a curry.
The Thai Fish Cakes, were beautifully presented with a home-made coleslaw, fresh new potatoes, tartare sauce and a home-made salad, it really did look like something an artist would create, the fishcakes contained ginger and lime and had a nice delicate taste to them that wasn’t super spicy, the potatoes were nice and firm and the salad and coleslaw fresh and crunchy.
As we all came towards clearing our plates, one of my friends announced ‘I am so full I am finding it hard to breath’ – it made us all laugh but really is a great way to say how delicious the food is here, you just want to polish the lot off despite your own limitations.
As we were pondering pudding, a rep from the Ringwood Brewery came in, we had a really good chat about Real Ales and Breweries and the boys decided they were going to attend a brewery trip The Royal Oak is putting on to Ringwood Brewery next month.
I decided I wanted to try one of the home made puddings on the menu and chose the Bakewell Tart which is made by Royal Oak stalwart Karen who always seems to be there working but appears to have many different hats, a truly great member of staff who is cheerful, chatty and friendly. The Bakewell tart appeared, it had a lovely pastry crust, with a good helping of Jam and a super thick almond flavoured sponge topped with just the right amount of icing, served with a thick creamy custard, this was the kind of pudding I dreamed of as a child, really comforting and perfect for a cold day.
I always love to go to The Royal Oak, Landlord and Landlady, Mike and Kate are such great hosts and are backed up by a great team that also involves their own teenage children, its a real proper family run pub that you don’t see very often any more. Do give this restaurant a go, the food is fantastic, the staff are friendly and accommodating and the owners can’t do enough to ensure your time in their restaurant is how you want it to be.
I am giving The Royal Oak Goodworth Clatford a Gold Award for our visit in September 2013.