Located in the heart of England’s ‘rugby town’, The Royal Oak of Twickenham hopes to score points with their seasonal menu, refreshing beer and cosy atmosphere. Will it be a roaring success? Or will there be scrumming at the exit?
In A Word:
This feels like the kind of place where small families come for lunch or dinner in the day and couples come in the evening. Mainly locals. Rugby fans are likely to visit during matches…
There’s nothing more distinctively British than a pub. Despite the fact that so many across the UK have shut at what some might call an ‘alarming rate,’ there is hope for the industry yet. Perhaps a carefully constructed food menu holds the answer? ‘Pub grub’ still has a kind of stigma attached to it, by that I mean, not very good in gastronomical terms…
However, with the expertise of Executive Chef Stan Perry (from Soho House) and Head Chef Marty West, The Royal Oak are hoping to tempt a few tastebuds. I take a trip to Twickenham with my guest Chi to sample the menu.
There’s something of a countryside vibe to the pub. The exterior is bright and clean and on one side is a scattering of wooden top tables, rattan-style chairs and comfy sofas. It’s inviting, and enhances its image as a traditional community pub. Time to see inside.
My first thought is that it’s spacious. There’s lots of room to move around unlike the many cramped, maze-like pubs in Central London. Being on the outskirts has its advantages. It continues its traditional look thanks to its delicate lighting and wooden panels and flooring. Book lovers are sure to be in awe of the displays of old, clothbound classics in the dining area.
As I’ve mentioned already, it does feel very countryside-like, it doesn’t feel like you’re only half an hour from the centre of London. The arrangement of the books, the random array of plump cushions and little plant pots on the tables makes the Royal Oak an uber cosy and rather romantic spot to grab a drink or have a hearty meal. Speaking of which…
The menu boasts an interesting selection of dishes and we’re both struggling to choose. However, to start, I finally settle for the Gazpacho with Heritage Tomatoes and Tapenade, and Chi orders the Chicken Livers, Smoked Lardon and Soughdough Bread. We don’t have to wait long before the plates arrive, and Chi and I are surprised by the size of our starters. Both dishes are much bigger than we expected!
Presentation-wise, my gazpacho has an eye-popping orangey-red colour and looks fresh. I can’t say I find Chi’s dish aesthetically pleasing, maybe it’s the colour? Still, it’s the taste that’s really important.
The gazpacho is impressive, it’s light and fresh and bursting with that beautiful, juicy tomato flavour. However, I’m slightly disappointed with the tapenade. The flavour isn’t strong enough to match the tanginess of the tomato and that’s a shame. I’d say it was underwhelming in terms of flavour. However, the gazpacho itself is incredibly refreshing.
In comparison, Chi’s dish is dense and heavy, but it’s rich and there’s an abundance of flavours. The chicken and lardon work amazingly well in the creamy sauce. It certainly makes up for its not-so-glamorous appearance.
Onto the main course now and we’re both impressed with the presentation of both dishes. I’ve chosen another vegetarian dish, the Aubergine, Falafel, Charred Gem and Grilled Pepper. Chi has chosen one of today’s specials, the Primavera Risotto.
We’re both especially pleased with how my main looks. As well as being quite colourful, you automatically know there’s a good combination of flavours and textures here. The grilled vegetables and falafel are perfectly cooked and are a wonderful match. The charred gem adds a delightful crunch. I scoop up the smooth chickpea pate with the pitta bread which accompanies the overall dish. It’s an amazing vegetarian meal.
The risotto boasts beautiful shades of green and is bursting with fresh flavours – mostly because of the mint. The combination of peas, asparagus and spinach gives a spring/summer feel to the risotto. The mint is strong but the parmesan and feta cheeses balance it out and provide more texture to the dish.
Chi and I are already full, but we’re not saying no to dessert, especially when there’s so many exciting treats on the menu! I order the Banoffee Pot and Chi goes for the Amalfi Lemon & Raspberry Posset with Shortbread. Sadly, the posset hasn’t actually set yet so she chooses the Warm Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Since there is an absence of posset, the chef has treated us to two shortbread biscuits each.
Anyone who doesn’t like the sweet stuff should look away now.
I smile as the chef serves my Banoffee Pot. It’s actually served in a medium-sized jar and is jam-packed. It has a lovely, crunchy biscuit base and I love how the sweetness of the caramel and cream compliments it. There’s a good amount of banana pieces too – there’s nothing worse than having a banoffee pie with not enough banana. However, this delicious.
The shortbread biscuits are light and surprisingly not so sweet. They’re going down a treat!
Chi’s chocolate and hazelnut brownie is a delight too. It’s rich and indulgent and works especially well with the vanilla ice cream. The combination of hot and cold truly satisfies the palate. The raspberry pieces add a dash of colour and a gentle fruity kick.
I think it’s safe to say we’re full to the rim!
This is an exceptionally lovely pub with a cosy atmosphere, chatty, friendly staff and a surprisingly exciting menu. The starters are too big in my opinion, if you’re hungry you probably won’t mind so much, but I think the quantity needs to be scaled down a bit. However, The Royal Oak definitely offers more than just the usual pie and mash with a pint.
13 Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 3AB
0203 817 9388