Today, we have a guest post from the Domestic King. As you’ve probably all guessed, the Domestic King, is none other than my wonderful Papa. Now, if you were to write a list of what the perfect Dad looked like, you would undoubtedly describe the Domestic King, so I am honoured that he has taken the time to write this little post for me. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing lots more from him in the coming months. Over to you Papa….
On 24th February 2012, on our way to watch the Wales vs England rugby game, 12 close friends descended on a real gem of a pub – The Royal Oak in Maidenhead – otherwise known as Parky’s Pub! The pub is owned by Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick, who runs it, and what a great job he does. Understandably, its website proudly boasts the achievement of winning a Michelin Star for culinary excellence three years on the trot. From the moment you drive into the car park you get a sense that you’re about to experience a pretty good place. Entering the pub on our first visit, there, on the sofa, relaxed and supping a pint of beer with a friend was the man himself, which supports the claim that Sir Michael eats here “… most days of the week ….” Although proud of its gastro credentials, the place also has all the hallmarks of a traditional pub, but one that benefits from loving care!
The customer will appreciate the welcoming climate, the well-stocked bar, comfortable seating, intelligent use of space, and skilful combination of brick and polished wood to complete the appearance of this tastefully finished pub. The substantial dining area exudes the ambience of a friendly, organised and well-managed restaurant.
Our favoured drink was a superb pint of Fuller’s award winning London Pride. A perfectly kept, well-balanced ale, distinguished by its malty, fruity flavour and its lingering bitter finish. So good was the first pint, we couldn’t resist a second in preference to wine as an accompaniment to lunch. If you did fancy a glass of wine, there is an extensive wine list, and to quote their website, “catering for all palates and purse strings.”
We opted for the fixed menu lunch offering two courses for £25, or three for £30, which included tea or coffee; most of the group decided on two courses combining starter and main course. The food, all freshly prepared from produce sourced locally, was quite superb. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, and provide service that is courteous and efficient. The choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts was sensibly limited, with an enticing basket of warm, freshly baked bread (refillable on request), an ideal companion for the wonderful London Pride as we awaited our starters. The Iberico ham de Bellotta with a fried duck egg and Parmesan was cooked to perfection and a wonderfully flavoured starter. My main course of black bream with creamed potatoes, fennel, citrus fruits and olive oil was mouth-wateringly good and beautifully presented. Only one of the gang chose a dessert, the glazed lemon tart with raspberry sorbet that earned the accolade, “the best dessert ever”! Excellent coffee and petit fours concluded our lunchtime gourmet experience.
A few of the gang intend re-visiting before the next England v Wales Six Nations meeting in 2014, mainly with their partners. Some, however, felt the menu to be over priced and the portion sizes failed to sate their appetites. They considered the 67% increase in price over the £15 fixed menu of 2010 to be quite unreasonable. Obviously prices of produce have increased since our visit 2 years ago, but it pays not to lose sight of the ‘value for money’ concept, especially in harsh economic times, along with the need to retain customers. That said, my guess is that The Royal Oak will feature on the itinerary for the 2014 reunion, if only for the wonderful London Pride!
Thanks for sharing this Papa! We’ll definitely be popping in on one of our next trips to the UK. I’d love to know what celebrity-run pubs have you been to? Have they lived-up to the hype? And, what do you think makes a good gastropub? Do you have any recommendations for us to try? Look out for more restaurant reviews over the coming weeks.
With much love
The Domestic Princess