Once winter temperatures start to drop, it’s a good time to head for one of the best parts of the British countryside – the country pub. We like a pub that has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and something more interesting than average pub grub. The Royal Oak has the potential to score well on both counts.
The Royal Oak is part of the organic world of Helen Browning, OBE. The pub is managed by Tim Finney, a host with an uncanny knack for recognising his customers even if they have not visited recently. Rock and I have not been to the Royal Oak for a while but, when Tim saw us seated at our table, he immediately came over to say how pleased he was to see us again. A small touch that made us feel welcome!
As I had handed the car keys to Rock, I was able to test the Marynka – an interesting Polish dark ale – and the local Wiltshire Gold.
I decided to try the Lamb Tagine, served with cous cous, yoghurt, mint dressing and a slice of lime. It was full of spice, without being hot, and the tang of the lime really heightened the flavours. Rock went for pulled barbecue pork, with thin chips and slaw. Their slaw is not a pale concoction but a fresh and brightly coloured red cabbage affair. It is rare for her to clear her plate – but she did today.
As we were planning a post-lunch country walk – we also gave in to the temptation of dessert. They do not make many beers that you can pair with dessert, but if you choose to have the steamed ginger and orange spiced pudding, then try the Bees Organic Ale. The pure honey in the ale works fantastically well with the ginger and orange.
Good food and ale followed by a walk through beautiful countryside – it’s hard to beat!