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Beer of the Week (w/e 26th June 2022) with aleandhearty on the Pub Forum

The Royal Oak, Borough, SE1

44 Tabard Street
Phone: 02073577173

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

. Wittenden left this review about The Royal Oak

A cracking back street pub as described before.Long on my wish list,and finally visited early doors on a sunny mid May Saturday. Quiet on our arrival,it gradually filled up with a convivial crowd.On the beer front, my Harvey's Dark MILD was exemplary, as was the Armada Ale, a suave elder brother of the ubiquitous Sussex Best.
Leaving the pub, my compadre wished that it was his local:while not wanting to live in London,I tend to agree.

On 21st May 2022 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 264 recommendations about 263 pubs]

Tris C left this review about The Royal Oak

This pub dates from 1790, but I suspect that it was rebuilt in the 19th century.
A first in here the other night and I suspect that nothing has changed to this Harvey’s pub since the reviews over the last 10-odd years: it’s still a pub with rare (though possibly not original) seated entrance vestibule, modern boarded floor, modern furniture, excellent Regency-style cast iron columns, fine ceiling roses and a great egg and dart cornice, with acorn augmentation; the shades of brown and cream Farrow & Ball gastropub colour scheme is what I would describe as ‘Wild Mushroom Medley’. Décor comprises framed prints, including a trio of lithographs featuring 1930s’ pub life by Edward Ardizzone, one being of my favourite snug at Maida Vale’s Prince Alfred, Ardizzone’s local. However, as Nick Davies points out, the current interior is a modern restoration, undertaken by Harvey’s, possibly dating back little more than a decade but certainly no earlier than Harvey’s acquisition, affording the pub a citation on CAMRA’s list of pubs of Outstanding Conversions and Restorations. Customers were nothing like as old as I had imagined, with some young Americans in, with fairly good business, considering the day of the week.
There were four Harvey’s beers on and all halves tried: Dark Mild (£2.10, nice mellow), Royal Oak IPA (£2.20 a bit bland and really too weak to be an IPA), Sussex Best (£2.35, trademark toffee apple taste) and Old Ale (£2.40, toffee apple, but more so) all in top condition, served by friendly staff.
This is one of the better pubs in SE1, but I don’t think I could handle Harvey’s beers all night; a couple of imaginative guests would get the score up, as would a cosier environment.

On 1st April 2022 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1513 recommendations about 1493 pubs]

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Will Larter left this review about The Royal Oak

My first visit to this pub since I have been writing reviews for this site, and I was glad of the opportunity. Even more pleased to find that it was as good as, if not better than, my incomplete memory of the place. A fine building in London brick, the corner of which is not a right angle, and it looks like there might have been a door there, where now is a large window. We entered by the door on Tabard Street, but I can remember on my previous visit entering from Nebraska Street. Walking through that part of the pub to reach the toilets, it looked to me like this would have once been an off-sales. I was expecting this fine interior to have been rewarded with an appearance on Camra's list of historic pub interiors, but perhaps it has been messed around just a little too much.

On the bar were four hand pumps with a range of Harveys beers from Lewes in East Sussex. I've had a number of poor drinks of their famous Sussex Best Bitter in recent years, so I swerved that and went for the Old Ale, which was in superb condition. My companion had the mild, which he also expressed enthusiasm for, so we stayed for a second drink and went for the Sussex Best, which was as good as the other two beers and worthy of this great traditional bitter's reputation. If there were only some way of arranging for the people who had been responsible for the poorly kept examples of this beer that I have suffered to visit this pub, they would hang their heads in shame.

On 23rd February 2020 - rating: 9
[User has posted 3044 recommendations about 2864 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about The Royal Oak

Very surprised to find out I hadn't reviewed this pub before, having visited it a good number of times over the last 15 years or so. It remains as described in the previous reviews as a solid traditional pub with extremely well kept beer, the food is decent as well. I had both the Dark Mild and Old Ale from Harveys on yesterdays visit, good value at £4.00 a pint given the location.

On 3rd November 2019 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1559 recommendations about 1540 pubs]

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Brainy Pool left this review about The Royal Oak

this was the best pub I visited in London across two days. though it was a little more foody than I expected. it’s well worth seeking out and just a short walk from Borough tube station. Good beer at reasonable central London prices and the Armada is a delicious pint. Old boys chatting away around an ornate bar. I could have spent a while here.

On 2nd February 2019 - rating: 8
[User has posted 898 recommendations about 871 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Royal Oak

I don’t get south of the river often but also reacquainted myself with this fine pub last week. As Quinno says nothing really changes here and all the better for it. The Harveys Mild was on fine form, the Fullers beer was HSB on this occasion (so I guess a small change) and there was actually another non Harveys guest on, but that was in the back bar and as we stayed in the front of the Harveys Brews I didn’t check out what it was. A timeless classic and being well utilised on this early evening visit. No need to change my original rating.

Original Review 21st June 2009
Excellent back street traditional corner boozer which is a little difficult to search out but well worth the hunt. And a rare Harveys outlet to boot.
Traditional old style public and saloon bar layout either side of a central serving area. The public is plain but lighter and airier than the saloon bar, having light coloured walls above wood panelling and wooden seating. Whereas the saloon has the more comfy chairs but with dark burgundy flock wall paper.
The full range of Harveys ales with both Light and dark Milds, Pale Ale and Sussex best through to the Porter and Armanda. These were priced at £2.80 for the Milds , through to £3.40 for the Porter and £3.50 for the Armada.
I tried both milds and they were excellent, and at 3% the Dark Mild proves you don't need a high abv to get flavour.
Also full range of Harvey's Ciders seemed to be available as well…

On 23rd July 2018 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1816 recommendations about 1754 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Royal Oak

Things seem to tick over here with time being a mere concept rather than a reality. The beer is still Harveys (with Pride on as an interloper) and the quality is still high. If you are down in London for an all-dayer, this is a must-visit.

June 2014
Long-overdue revisit and little change since 2009, thankfully. Eight pumps, four on each bar with different ales, though a lack of cross-bar advertising meant I didn’t realise this until I went up for second drink and ordered a MILD, prompting the barman to point out that there were actually two MILDS available. In the end I counted six Harvey's (including two seasonals) plus Fullers HSB (retailing at four quid!) and Thatchers Heritage cider. My Pale and seasonal Mild were both in good form. Noticed that the lesser-visited rear lounge has some china ornaments. No music or darts here, just a simple honest drinking den. I like. Rated 9

August 2009
An enduring classic south of the river, this is a Harveys (ex-Courage) street corner outlet. It’s a Victorian back-street boozer design - the interior is made up of two bars either side of a central server and dividing door; in between is a small off-sales area. There’s a lot of high ceilings and etched glasswork in evidence, along with dark varnished panelling and basic furnishings. Nice plasterwork cornices and light settings if you look upwards. There are no TV's, fruit machines or music, it’s all very traditional. There are usually five Harveys ales available in good nick, alongside a Fullers beer (part of the deal regarding the Lewes Arms saga a few years back). Food is available and it’s reportedly of high quality – substantial and traditional. It perhaps lacks a little ethereal something for me to make it a classic, but it’s certainly well-worth a call if you like good beer and traditional pubs. Rated 8

On 7th October 2017 - rating: 9
[User has posted 4401 recommendations about 4387 pubs]

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Blackthorn _ left this review about The Royal Oak

A traditional, street corner boozer in what appears to be a residential part of town slightly off the tourist trail, this pub is unlikely to have changed much for decades even down to the fact that they still have net curtains hung up in the windows – not something you see very often these days!

Internally it’s actually one large, open plan room, although the woodwork that forms part of the central bar is effectively a partition dividing it in to two. Decor wise it’s very traditional with wooden boards and a large rug on the floor, cream paintwork on the upper part of the walls and dark wood panelling below. The rear room looked to be broadly similar, although perhaps a little cosier with maroon paintwork. I understand that The Telegraph rated it one of the top ten pubs in the UK a couple of years back, so it was surprising how quiet it was on our recent Tuesday evening visit.

Food wise, the menu offered a decent election of “pub grub” dishes such as fish & chips, burger, scampi & chips, steak & ale pie, etc., and these were mostly priced around a tenner. A specials board offered a few slightly more up-market dishes, although certainly nothing pretentious or gastro. Our ham, egg & chips was a decent portion with four slices of ham, plenty of chips and a couple of eggs, although on the downside the ham seemed like it was out of a packet and the egg yolks were solid. Nonetheless though, a decent enough dish and good value.

Beers on tap were all from the Harvey’s stable with their Mild, Pale, Best, Old and Armada. The solitary cider was Symond’s Founders Reserve although it looked as though a pump for Thacther’s Heritage had run out – a shame, as that’s a rare find around these parts and would have gone down a treat.

On 3rd April 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1802 recommendations about 1726 pubs]

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Aqualung . left this review about The Royal Oak

This was a Courage pub before Harvey's took it over something like twenty years ago. As noted many times below it's an unspoilt two room pub with the servery bridging the two rooms. There is an upstairs function / dining room.
There are hand pumps in both bars but I think on the day there were just four Harvey's beer on. I went for their Christmas Ale which was in good nick but at six quid a pint silly money even for a 7.5% beer.
This was my favourite of the three Harvey's London pubs and has been a GBG regular since after it first opened as one of their houses.
It's a good place but like the vast majority of pubs in London and the South let down by needlessly high prices.

On 27th December 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2143 recommendations about 2143 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Royal Oak

Harveys pub that still retains it's tiled exterior. 2 roomed old style interior with the central bar serving the different sections. Might take a bit of finding but worth the effort.

On 1st November 2016 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2822 recommendations about 2764 pubs]

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