Royal Oak

Royal OakRoyal Oak
Royal OakRoyal Oak
Bar, Eatery

44 Tabard Street
London, England, SE1 4JU
United Kingdom

+44 20 7357 7173 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 14 | Ratings: 16 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The fifth stop of the day, a warm Saturday that had BA’s RichLightWeight, RobBeer, Mr & MrsBeeryMatt and some foreigner called TheLongBeachBum tackle a few London boozers. Darkness had fallen as we all left the Rake to head out to the nearby Royal Oak, not much of a walk but a nice chance to stretch the legs as a light drizzle fell.

The Royal Oak is the only Tied House in London for Sussex Brewer, Harvey’s of Lewes. It has a gorgeously attractive exterior which screams classic Victorian London Pub from all angles. The corner location seems to add to the charm, and certainly lends character to the interior thanks to the placement of the entrance. A three storey brick building which oozes class and Georgian architecture, it is hard not to be impressed by the exterior presentation of this gem. The lower floor is accentuated with large windows which have all their wooden frames painted in white. The wooden doors are also painted white with black highlighting which seems to complement the dark black signs with their golden lettering which run around the ground floor. A swinging Pub sign, flag poles & an old style street lamp hang from the outside, all these polish off the presentation to perfection.

The entrance itself has a wind-catcher, opening up into an interior chamber of all wooden construction which offers the drinker a choice of two rooms. To the left (our initial choice) the back room opens up with many tables & chairs which lend a cozy feel. The back room is where the Toilets are located; check out the quality Vernon Tutbury Sinks in the Gents. To the right (our revised decision for seating after initially heading into the back room) the main front room has a more open floor plan. In the main front room, lots of bench seating around the exterior walls, & underneath the expansive windows, is fronted by large tables. Wooden floors & lots of wooden fittings are complemented with period fittings & décor. Along with the entrance, the beautiful high backed stand alone Bar in the centre splits the two rooms, yet easily serves both areas with good visibility.

The beer range is very healthy. Harvey’s is an independent brewer dating from 1790, so seeing a range of their Real Ales on offer are always a treat, especially in London. I spied 5 Handpumps, one Guest & four Harvey’s brews - XX Mild, Pale Ale, Best Bitter plus the Seasonal Old Ale on the wickets during my visit, I tackled a lovely Pint of the XX Mild. Many bottles including Weston’s Old Rosie Cloudy Scrumpy too!

It seems that they serve food quite late here, well late for the UK, so when one of Mr & MrsBeeryMatts friends recommended that we eat here; we all went along for the ride. The Menu is rather good, classic English Pub Grub served at very good prices. I took the advice of the locals and went for the Egg, Chips & Ham….oh my what a great choice that was!! Thick cut home made Chips, a perfectly fried Egg with a lovely runny yolk & two massive thick slices of fresh ham. No processed food here, it all has a home made feel & the whole plate of fare was swiftly dispatched. The prices are very good too.

I have to mention the Service. When we first got in here, we sat in the far back room, and as we started to order food, RobBeer spied a larger table in the other adjoining room so we moved whilst we all ordered food & beer individually. In most places this may have caused confusion & mixed orders, but not here. The two women behind the bar were superb, not only putting up with our relocation & individual orders but doing it very professionally, with a smile & despite our best efforts to complicate matters, getting it all 100% correct.

The Royal Oak was London CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2003 & it picked up the SPBW London Pub of the Year at the same time. This Award Winning establishment has a real “back to basics” feel; Great Beer, Great Food, Great Atmosphere, Great Service & all at Great Prices – it really is that simple but it works immensely well. I dearly love this Pub & I cannot speak highly enough of the warmth & hospitality which was second to none, the gorgeous food, the Harvey’s Ales on top form & best of all, the assembled BA Company. The next time I come back here it will be for more than the one beer.

*HIGHLY* Recommended.

Last Visit: Saturday 28th October, 2006.

Nov 05, 2006
More User Reviews:
Photo of RickyHolden
RickyHolden from England

4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Jun 10, 2015
Photo of joelambic
joelambic from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Jun 18, 2014
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spointon from Illinois

4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

My wife and I visited this place on a Sunday evening while recently in London.

While the interior is basic, it is very pleasantly worn and warm and inviting. The pub is sort of separated into two halves by the bar, making it necessary to go out into the entryway to access the other side of the pub. Not a problem, just an observation.

This is a Harvey's tied house, so all of the beers were theirs. There was a nice sized selection of cask ales (8-10) with some other options as well (2-3 ciders for instance). I was very pleased to (finally) find a dark mild on cask after looking for 4 days all over London.

Being Sunday evening we ordered "Sunday Roast" and enjoyed a couple of very very good meals. We also enjoyed chatting with the friendly pub-goers sitting around us.

Overall this is a wonderful old, warm and friendly pub with great food and a large, quality beer selection. A London must-visit in my opinion.

Nov 15, 2013
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BlackHaddock from England

3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is a 'good honest boozer' as my father would say: meaning it is a basic drinking mans pub without frills or fancy trimmings.

A short walk from the delights of Borough Market, this corner pub is a true throw-back to the pre lager bright light bars which now haunt some parts of London. Harvey's (the brewery owners of the pub) have just left it alone, because that is what their customers want (plus it costs nothing if you don't alter anything).

Full selection of Harvey's excellent beers, all on cask. My wife and I tried four different ones between us and all were in good condition and served with a smile. The pub was fairly empty on the Thursday afternoon in late Feb 2011 we visited. I mentioned earlier about no trimmings etc, but we did notice that some dusty Christmas decorations were still hanging around, made us chuckle a little.

The actual pub is split into two rooms, with a small area containing a serving hatch inbetween them. All areas are served by the same central bar which is mostly open, allowing you to see the other room no matter which one you're in.

Well worth the walk and finding, especially if you like Harvey's beers like I do.

Mar 11, 2011
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Clembo1957 from England

4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I visited the Royal Oak on a Sunday Lunchtime and the pub was fairly busy with several tables reserved, however the friendly bar man offered us a table and we made ourselves at home, which was very easy given the friendliness of the pub. The pub is located off Borough High St and is an easy walk from London Bridge station and Tower Bridge. I had Harvey's Sussex Pale which was excellent and the Sunday Roast was superb - worth a trip to London for! Prices are reasonable for London. an excellent pub with a local community feel, excellent beer and food!

Apr 21, 2010
Photo of alfrantzell
alfrantzell from California

3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Harvey's makes a great bitter. This was my thinking after ingesting their Sussex Best at the White Horse, after which I learned that some pub near the Borough Tube station had a few handles dedicated to the beers of Harvey.

They did. The mild, the porter, old ale, pale, and Armada, a hoppy pale. The pub was wrought entirely from wood. With English pubs this is a recurring theme.

Sunday roast was ordered - stuffed venison ("inverted sausage" as my friend called it) and a vegetable and Stilton pie. The venison was good but the pie was like congealed minestrone soup.

At least it threw into sharp relief the beer, which was well worth the trip.

Apr 12, 2010
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Antilochus from Canada

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A few minutes walk from Borough (Northern line), this is a classic pub. Lots of regular looking types, good amount of young crowd, and more than a few CAMRA types as well. No TVs or electronic gambling in sight, lots of wood, nice postcard beer mats, low tables and benches. Big windows too.

Four or five casks with Harveys ales and perhaps three or four kegs with lager/macro stuff for oddballs. Nice full pours too. Staff doesn't really know much but the service is fantastic. Pints are £2.60-£3.00 for the Harveys stuff. In all honesty great prices for what you get.

Food is good and great value. Big double decker sandwiches - I have had both the roast beef and the salt beef - salt beef is superb for the adventurous. Cheese plate is gigantic. I've had a cheese plate at other beer bars and this is the most simple but generous plate I've seen. Stilton, bloomy goat, brie, and mature cheddar served, a bit cool though.

I highly recommend.

Jun 24, 2008
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austin from Canada

3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Had a very good time at this friendly,local pub close to the Borough tube.There were 4 Harveys cask ales available. I tried the mild(3.0),best bitter(4.0)and armada(4.5), all in good condition. The mild was an all malt,tasty classic.

When you think of the name Royal Oak it conjures up visions of polished brass and wood paneling. Not here.This neighbourhood pub has that old, weathered look with tons of history.The inside is split in two parts with the circular bar coming through the middle.

The pub fare is above average. I had the steak & ale pie served with a side of veggies, as good a pie as you'll get in London. It's worth a visit to the Royal Oak on Tabard St.

May 14, 2008
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Mark from California

4.44/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

My good friend John HW inspired me to visit this great pub seeing he talks of it often and I had not ever checked it out despite nine previous trips to London. Kind of off the beaten track and buried deep in Southwark it is worth the trouble to go here. Very nice interior and comfortable. Full range of Harvey's ales and they are well kept. Prices are reasonable for London which is a good thing with the dollars poor value in the U.K. I had the mild which was a slight disappointment but Harvey's ales are pretty much can't go wrong beers and this pub is a must visit for lovers of real ale.

Mar 29, 2008
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swizzlenuts from Wisconsin

4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This was a quite nice pub, it's located on a street that doesn't look like it would have a pub. It has Harvey's beers on tap and a few ciders that I assume are associated with Harvey's. The place is kind of small, but it has a really nice atmosphere. It's quiet, no music, and I think I was the youngest person in the pub at 9 o'clock on a Saturday evening. They had the Harvey's Porter, Old Ale, Bitter, Pale Ale, and Best Bitter on tap. They had one special one that I never got around to trying, but all around good selection for any type of drinking. I don't recall seeing any macro beers on tap; however, I do remember seeing some spirits.

This pub is great for a evening with a few friends to relax and have some solid brews.

I didn't have any food, but it smelled wonderful.

Highly recommended pub, definitely a pub I'll make my way to again.

Mar 21, 2008
Photo of JohnW
JohnW from England

4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Only a couple minutes walk from Borough Tube Station (or 15 mins walk from London Bridge Station down Borough High Street till junction with Long Lane/Dover Street)

Street corner pub in quieter area off Borough High Street. Attractive traditional pub with wooden floors, scrubbed tables and U shaped bar. Bar area with large windows on two sides making it light and airy and cosy small lounge area to the left through the door on Pigrimage Street.

Tall wooden curved bar fitments in traditonal style making attractive atmosphere. At time of visit 11.30am on a Monday, there was only one other person in there, and with the sun shining through the windows (and no smoking now!!) make a very pleasant relaxing stay. A quiet oasis in London, and the boss - Frank - making friendly conversation about his beers and pubs of London, and his recommendations!

There were 5 Harveys beers on, of which we tried the Best Bitter 4.0% Armada 4.5% and the Olympia 4.5% and they were all first class, and wish we could have stayed longer, but another 5 real ale pubs to try in the day!

Had a good menu of food, with a blackboard showing specials of the day, so a changing variety. Whilst we did not eat here, the prices were good and a little less than other pubs in the more touristy areas of Borough and the Thames.

Not sure how busy the pub could get at other times of the day or at weekends, but this sure would be a pub to visit again at anytime because of the fine beers and pleasant relaxing atmosphere away from the bustle of Borough High Street and throngs of tourists!

On any of our London visits, this is always our first call in the morning!

Highly recommended.

B'ham UK August 2007

Aug 14, 2007
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FightingEntropy from Minnesota

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Checking out the Royal Oak was a quick stop for me--unfortunately, I needed to move on after an hour or so, to get dinner and go get a place for the fireworks that night. But, my still my stop was memorably in a short time--wish it had lasted longer. The other reviewers give a good description of the RO, so I won't duplicate the information--just relate my short stop.

It is a bit hard to find, but worth the effort. Thanks to Jim sitting beside me at Market Porter for calling to see if it was open. Walked into a neighborhood, or so it felt, snugly situated around the bar and side tables. Not too busy on a Saturday afternoon, but I'm not sure how long they were going to be open on New Year's Eve yet.

Great beer stop, and I went on the recom of RO being a Harvey's tied house. I had cask pours of Armada, Christmas, and Old Ale. Christmas was by far my favorite, and a real treat drinking it on cask. Harvey's is hard to get where I live, and the occasional is bottle hard to find and expensive. I needed some food to go with my quickly downed ales, so I ordered bread pudding which was rich and creamy, buttery. I grew up with bread pudding, but being of Dutch heritage, my family's version of bread pudding isn't the same as the Brit's. A nice treat to go with my beer stop. Also, I met a couple of others at the bar in my short stop, real beer people, that quickly led to interesting conversation about CAMRA, double IPAs and their purpose, Bunker Bierhall, and more that added a warm layer over my whole experience at the Royal Oak.

Just wish I had more time...

Jan 15, 2007
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surfadelic23 from Florida

4/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This was the second pub we hit on our Saturday night crawl with RobBeer. What a nice place. It looked like it's been around forever, so I was surprised to read that it was fairly new in the g0od pub guide. We had the mild, pale ale, and best bitter that I remember. All were in great condition and tasted wonderful! We also ate a late dinner here. My wife had a sandwich which was huge and I had a delicious pie as well. This place is well worth checking out or adding to a pub crawl if you're on the south side. It's not far from many of the other places one would be checking out (market porter, rake, etc.)
****revisited 10/2008****
As usual, all pints in top condition and the wonderful bonfire boy was the seasonal too... Great stuff...

Oct 29, 2006
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gueuzegeek from New Jersey

4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

OH MAN did I love this place. It was a bit of an odd day, weather wise, the sun would come out, the sun would go away, the hail would come, the hail would go and come back again. Needless to say, we were in here for quite a while, because the part about the sun was really only partly a reality. I did manage to try everything they had and I will have to come back and edit when I have the list of everything. Anyway not a single beer was a let-down. They had a porter as a seasonal, which was quite a nice surprise.

Just seeing the photo here makes me want to go back. The place is not all that big, but the clientele as well as the staff were wonderful. It was like walking into a family's pub. Granted, it was a weekday afternoon, which did not hurt. The place was very clean and had some nice stuff to admire while hanging around at the bar.

Do not take one of the stools that looks like it has a cusion, unless they are new, they are NOT comfortable, but that did not disuade us from staying.

If I do get to go back, I will return here, the Jerusalem tavern and Wendlock arms as my primary destinations.

Apr 28, 2006
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wl0307 from England

4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Finally I found this Harvey's pub located so close to Borough tube station, and this is the only Harvey's tied house in London!! I miss so much Harvey's beers since moving to London from Sussex a year ago, though here and there I bump into Harvey's Best Bitter at several free-houses in central London, but not their whole range of regular beers.

Inside the pub, the reasonably spacious, high-ceiling space is divided into two parts (saloon and public bar, but of roughly the same size) and connected by an oval shaped bar equipped with four handpulls on each side. Typical Harvey's pub atmosphere: no music, no juke boxes, no non-sense. Nostalgic lighting, old pictures on display on the wall, simplistic wooden tables and chairs, with big wide windows allowing much light from the street to get through. I even got a rumour from a fellow punter about this place, that this pub is said to be taken over around 10-15 years ago by the Harveys from a run-down place, coz one generation of the owners of the brewery was from this part of town and vowed to have a place of his own in this quarter, only failing to do so with his untimely death. The successors did it for him, though, and brilliantly. BTW, it has been voted twice or three times as CAMRA Pub of the Year in SE London during the past six years.

The atmosphere is just right for a local corner pub, full of laughter but not overly noisy, allowing good conversation to take place without any problems (I made two friends there during my one-hour stop, both of whom came to this pub from other parts of the town. So we're pretty much birds of a feather~~). The beer range is strong, with four regular Harvey's beers (Best, Pale Ale, Mild, and Old Ale) and a seasonal ("Star of Eastbourne", 5.5%abv., deliciously-hopped pale ale, like a hoppier version of Armada, or a less malty little brother of Tom Paine Pale Ale, a summer seasonal itself), all in very good form. BTW, never have I bumped into 5 Harvey's house-beers in a single Harvey's pub apart from Harvey's own brewery-tap in Lewes. And that says a lot about this place innit? The service is good, friendly, patient, proper... just good. I for one, knowing where it is now, would certainly go back often to have a taste of Sussex every now and then~~

Oct 25, 2005
Royal Oak in London, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4.23 out of 5 with 16 ratings