Test Drives

egg‘Nduja Scotch egg, roasted garlic aioli (£6) - on the main menu, this is a starter as opposed to a snack - but works both ways. But ultimately, Dan Doherty has previously proven himself to be a scotch egg expert and this 'nduja infused version gives it a spicy kick. Order this while you're reading the menu.

What can you tell us about the Royal Oak?

The main thing is that it's Dan Doherty's pub. If you're unfamiliar with him, he shot to fame heading up Duck & Waffle at the top of the Heron Tower, one of the restaurants in London that confirms it is possible to have good food alongside a jaw-dropping view. Since leaving there he's run a few pop-ups of his own but the Royal Oak, a pub he's taken over in Marylebone, is his main new venture.

So what's he doing there?

The pub downstairs is split into half a traditional pub (where they're serving snacks) and half restaurant (which has the main menu). It'll stay that way until Spring next year, when the pub will close for a big refurbishment, adding a second restaurant upstairs.

Where is it?

It's at the top end of Marylebone, closest to either Edgware Road or Baker Street stations if you're taking the tube.

Before hitting the pub, where should we meet for a drink first?

If you're meeting friends for dinner, then it's just as easy to come to the pub itself and grab a drink here. But if you are looking for alternatives nearby, there is always the Mirror Bar in the Landmark if you fancy a high-end cocktail experience. If not - straight to the Royal Oak it is.

So we should start with snacks, yes?

Absolutely - and while the smoked salmon crostini sounded good, it's the merguez in filo that's the real winner here...

merguezFried merguez in filo, whipped feta, harissa (£4) - another one to add to our perfect snack list, merguez sausages wrapped in filo pastry. Even if you're just popping in for a pint, you should order one of these. And it's great value for two of them. 

And what about the main menu?

Simply split into three courses, consider it as considerably elevated pub food. You can have the 24-day-aged flat iron steak with duck fat potatoes and bone marrow butter (£16) which does sound admittedly excellent, but there's a varied menu on offer which seems perfectly pitched for the pub (with a good amount of vegetarian options in there too).

And the prices are very reasonable, we think. Here's what we had on the night:

tartareSteak tartare, marmite, grape mustard, toast (£9, £16). We find it quite hard to resist a steak tartare on any menu. We know it's not to everyone's taste, but this combines well-sourced (and seasoned) meat with a slight touch of marmite. And you can have it as a main course if you want.

gazpachoGazpacho, Brixham crab (£9) - There's more crab than appears at first sight in this image, lurking under the gazpacho.

codRoast cod, vine tomatoes, mojo verde (£15) - one of those dishes that makes the most of the end of summer produce and a zingingly fresh main to combat the richness of the tartare before it.

lambSlow cooked spiced lamb shoulder, aubergine stew, smoked yoghurt (£15). This isn't the first time we've tried the lamb shoulder from Dan Doherty - he's done variants of this dish at his Sprout pop-ups. A light touch on the middle-eastern flavours - you should pair this with their excellent chips too.

And save room for dessert?

Absolutely (or the cheese plate, which comes in at only £10). We had...

chocolateRich chocolate pot, salted caramel (£7) - A simple dessert, beautifully executed and much larger than the teeny pot au chocolat we were anticipating. That's a good thing.

cheesecakeWhipped buttermilk cheesecake, blueberries, oat crunch (£7) - we're not going to use the word deconstructed (oops) but that's essentially what this cheesecake is in all but name. Phenomenally good oat crunch too. 

What about drinks?

There are changing beers on tap - we had a Five Points pale ale - and a wine list with a broad range. So the entry-level bottle is £23 (Grenache Blanc or an Old Press Shiraz) with prices slowly increasing up towards the 50s without any dramatic jumps in price. And there's a decent mix of the familiar and the new - we opted for an Oddity Dry Tokaji at £34 a bottle - a perfect foil for the food we had.

And we were also pleased to see both 125ml AND 175ml options for wines by the glass - which is just how it should be.

Overall?

Dan Doherty has clearly hit the ground running at The Royal Oak. It's a great opportunity to see a chef evolving in the kitchen, with a slowly changing menu that's already turning out hits. And the price point is very competitive. Things will change again next spring, but we think you should head along to The Royal Oak right now.

 

More about The Royal Oak

Where is it? 74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN

How to book: call 020 7258 0222

Find out more: Visit the website and follow Dan on Instagram at @dandoherty_.

 

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