The Top is the Best Bit of Any Pie

The British Oak’s social media image has been raising an inviting image for some time, but errr, well, I’ve not been too sure how much of a lack of multiculturism to read into its name. In fact it took the closure of The Royal Standard (which, now I come to think of it, is a also a very imposing name – and it’s easy to mix up the two), for my friend to finally arrange drinks there. The kitchen normally closes at 9:30 and we were to be a 9:45 arrival, but the pub promised to stay open to serve us pie. The welcome turned out to be continued well beyond the electronic and telephone level, despite having staff training.

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The bar is inexplicably divided into what seems to be more of an eating area, and a drinking area. Ok, a split would be normal, but in the Royal Oak you can’t go from one to the other without leaving the pub. We started in the bar area, and rushed around to the eating area just in case our friend might be in there without us. She wasn’t, she was just taking a sociable time about arriving. Even had she been there she would have been perfectly content, the whole atmosphere of the eating area was happy and chilled. No lack of multiculturism seemed in evidence at all. There were even brummies present (myself included).

The Royal Oak sources pies from ‘Pieminister’. It would be nice to believe that the British Oak made the pie themselves on site themselves, but it didn’t really seem to detract from the combined, real ale, wood panelling, friendly pie eating experience.

I can’t claim credit for the excellent pie choice, as I insisted that I couldn’t eat a thing. There was a supposedly healthy pie option, called topless, but I have issue with the topless pie concept. I am after all a dieter, you know. But the top is the best bit of any pie, browned and crispy, while the base of the pie is frequently soggy and made up of the dreaded ‘waste of calories’ the fear of which dominates many lives. Please listen award winning Pieminister… Bottomless pies are the way forwards. You can put it all in tin foil to stop the contents falling out.

So being unable to eat a thing, I waited for my husband to order and then ate half of his pie. This was the ‘free ranger’, free range British chicken & ham hock pie with leek & thyme. Man, it was gorgeous and the gravy was even more gorgeous, so were the crispy shallots and the mushy peas were a seriously good upgrade from the chippy…. Mushy peas with bite.

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There wasn’t a thing to dislike about the British Oak, with charming staff and flowers on the tables and food and atmosphere. There really is something for everyone, and I think it may well be the best pub in SE3. I can’t remember what worried me about the name now… I have loads of oak in my kitchen and my home office and use both frequently (the kitchen more than the office).

I would like to tell you how my husband’s beer battered haddock was..

A Review of the Vanbrugh Pub, SE10

We were crowded out of Greenwich on Saturday lunch. We should have spotted the inevitability of this, when we couldn’t even park before getting to the eating stage. We popped our head around the door of so many places that I have yet to review: Heap’s sausages, the replacement to the Spread Eagle that has strange coloured cakes, and all they could offer was outside seating. It was about 2 degrees outdoors, so eventually we got back in the car and went to the Vanbrugh. Nestled in its own personal hill (that’ll be Vanbrugh Hill), the Vanbrugh’s pastel colours have caught our eye a few times.

Amongst the Vanbrugh’s recent improvements are a light and airy extension at the back with a visible kitchen that promises good things, or at least an absence of things that you wouldn’t be prepared to do to people’s food when they are watching… like defrost it for example. Next to the kitchen is a blackboard of events, I peered through to take a look…. all of the events were football matches to be shown on the TV, which was a bit disappointing. We sat in the extension. There were after all sofas, and sofas are good for Saturday afternoons and we drank Meantime beers  although with one of us being a driver we pondered the necessity of Meantime to produce a non-alcoholic version.. so long as they are not chicken..

I would like to tell you how my husband’s beer battered haddock was, but post chips calamari, and a burger where I didn’t even try to eat both sides of the bun, really there was no room to sample it. Here’s the evidence that the visible kitchen may be more than a party trick: the tartar sauce appeared to be truly homemade… the sample on the plate of haddock differed from that on the whitebait. There was very little fat on whitebait (with the recent chubby whitebait in Papa Charlie, I’m figuring whitebait has upped its game. Can’t they do this to calamari?) but chips were mega battered. Fair enough to the chips, they were called triple cooked and they were delicious, so I don’t find this as offensive as the lightly battered cod cheeks served down the road in the Cutty Sark.

Lunch at the Vanbrugh

Triple Cooked Chips and Burger

I shan’t be reviewing this honest fare type food again soon. There’s a heart to maintain, so make the most of it now. Dessert was a little disappointing. My pink lady crumple was only dusted with crumble.  I wonder if this was the chef’s conscience coming to the fore having served the earlier fatty dishes. The custard still tasted good with welcome flecks of vanilla, but it was more of a drink than a sauce. This makes me think of making a custard drink for the fireside to supplement, err… I mean alternate with hot chocolate and Bailey’s.

From traditional crumble the second dessert of salted caramel and chocolate brandy terrine with dulce de leche ice cream was more wannabe gourmet. And I say wannabe, not because it was bad, but because it did not actually arrive with dulce de leche ice cream. Now this is more forgivable in a pub than in Chapter’s where I have had a similar experience, so we did not complain, but I wish more places would pay attention to this detail, having promised much. That said, the salted caramel and chocolate brandy terrine was good enough in its own right.

 

As we laid back in the sofa, allowing as much space for our stomachs as possible, my husband’s phone buzzed to tell him that his hard won car parking space in Greenwich village was time up. A waste of the Greenwich cost of parking.