I'm not a massive burger fan, I don't eat them very often and I rarely manage to finish a whole one; I've had some bad experiences with burgers you see - they're either too big, too greasy, or just plain meh. Over the past few months though, I'd seen pictures of some tasty looking burgers being served up at The Royal Oak; and I have to say, they were having an impact on me - I was actually starting to want one. Upon hearing they were launching a weekly burger day, I checked out the menu - Pork & Chorizo Burger with Caramelised Onion; Handmade British Brie & Bacon Jam Burger; Handmade British Beef Burger topped with Pork Belly and Black Pudding... that was it, I was finally tempted back to the dark side.
Parking in St Giles' with 'A', we took a walk up Woodstock Road to the Royal Oak. Set back a few feet from the road, the pub is recognisable by its pale pink exterior; once inside, it's a rabbit warren of rooms - we must have walked through about five or six to get to our table. With warm wooden floors, mismatched wooden furniture and the odd wooden beam, you feel a real sense of history here; don't get me wrong though, the place doesn't feel dowdy. With walls and wooden panelling painted in various Farrow & Ball'esque shades, plenty of scatter cushions and the odd 'statement' piece of wallpaper, the pub feels inviting and cosy.
A good old gossip later, we started looking at our watches, I'm purely guessing (because we forgot to check our watches when we ordered), but it must have been around half an hour by this point - not quite enough to annoy, but certainly enough to recognise hunger pangs. Five to ten minutes later the food arrived and sauces offered; we had to remind the waiter at this point we had also ordered onion rings, which he chased up keenly for us. Onion rings delivered, we got stuck in.
|Pork & Chorizo Burger with Caramelised Red Onion & Fries|
|Handmade British Cheese Burger & Fries with added BBQ Pulled Pork|
The Pork & Chorizo Burger had good flavouring, but for me felt a little dry, I would have preferred it with more caramelised onion; the fries were tasty, although a little too cool for our liking; the accompanying burger sauce was delicious - really good for dipping the chips in, although it was disappointing to not see the promised coleslaw on the side. The shining star for me? The Cheese Burger with addition of BBQ Pulled Pork was gorgeous - juicy, smoky, cheesy, gooey, deliciousness. Both burgers turned out to be well done, which was fortunate on this occasion, as otherwise we would have had to send them back; however please don't automatically give me well done meat when I'm no longer pregnant, as I will be sick to death of it! Overall, the burgers were very enjoyable and not so big you're left feeling you should be rolled out the door; we didn't have room for pudding, but we both agreed we would certainly go back for more on another occasion.
|Onion Rings Batch 1 (top) and Batch 2 (bottom)|
All in all, a good meal; maybe not amazing, but I actually think they've got a very good foundation to build on. With a few tweaks, this could turn into a destination pub for me; get those onion rings sorted, heat up the fries a bit more and I'm there - I'm certainly looking forward to checking out the Handmade British Brie & Bacon Jam Burger when I'm not pregnant. What the hell, turns out I do like burgers after all! Who would've thought it.
Overall score: 7.5
As an FYI, Monday night is also quiz night, so don't expect it to be quiet. There is a PA system running throughout the bulding, so if you do want to take part in the quiz, you can do so from anywhere in the pub.
The Royal Oak,
42-44 Woodstock Road
Phone: 01865 310 187