Perhaps not the most surprising Top 100 choice (this is actually No. 3,171) but you’ll know my feelings on London soup, and it’s taken an overdue return to the Royal Oak yesterday to convince me.

First time here I’m fairly sure I saw McGrath rip through the England 1st innings on Day 1 of the 2005 Ashes.

No idea what happened after that.

Also no idea how Mrs RM and I ended up in Borough, to be honest, but a year on from the atrocity it felt right to be back,  Even if the beard quotient was down a bit.


And we also suspected we might bump into our joint favourite tourists from the States.

I was equipped with the essential guide for understanding Americans.

Two countries divided etc

Sadly, the sardine packing  nature of the 12.27 to Kings Cross meant I didn’t get beyond Page 4.

The view emerging from Borough underground station is a bit different from 2005,

That South London

but Harvey’s London flagship changeth never.

It’s gorgeous, Russ

The first thing you hear entering the Royal Oak is “ouch“, as Mrs RM bangs the door against a group on their way to a Shoreditch speakeasy called “Aunty Bethel’s Cornflake Club” or similar.

This photo is clearer than the one above

As part of some art piece, they’d chosen to sit at the smallest possible table and wedge their chairs against the front door.  Mrs RM growled.

Get me beer


What classic pumpclips, and a classic line-up free of homebrew and gimmicks.

The Best is best

This is one of the great pub interiors,

No sloping tables

but is it a great pub ?

Indubitably, yes.  First and foremost, it’s a pub for anyone.


Hipsters, locals, CAMRA folk, pint drinkers, couples, even Americans.

And the lunches were proper trenchermen fare, served without fuss or pretension from a menu you might expect in a Camberwell pie and mash shop.

Note Algernon Mantell advert
Rare bubble and squeak experience

We started tucking in as Dick and Dave turned up, and talked BRAPA and politics for an hour.  It was wonderful.

Dave already emotional after two pints

You can see how flat the beer is.  Mrs RM put back a pint of Pale and a Best, I had a Best and a Porter, our guests threw in a Mild.  NBSS 3.5-4, I thought, though I can see how a northerner would be scared off by the lack of head.

Not quite the best beer we had on Saturday, but the best pub by a London mile.






29 thoughts on “TOP 100 PUBS – ROYAL OAK, BOROUGH

  1. Harveys is the best brewery and their Royal Oak one of the best pubs.
    I don’t get there often enough but maybe the end of this month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re nearly as good as Marston’s. The problem is they sell a lot of beer to dining pubs who don’t sell it quickly enough to customers. Find Harvey’s Best in a proper boozer and you can’t lose.


  2. Any post containing Ashes 2005 series ( on reflection better than 81) a bit of Bill Bryson and what appears to be a top pub is a winner 😉 Mrs RM appears to be matching or dare I say it usurping you in the pints stakes these days #keytoahappymarriage


  3. “It’s gorgeous, Russ”

    After reading ahead, I can but agree. 🙂

    “The Best is best”

    Paul speaks very highly of Harvey’s. (thumbs up)


    Funny how that looks ok in a ‘proper’ pub, but in a micro looks a bit fake. 😉

    “even Americans.”

    You could at least have said ‘North’ Americans. 🙂

    “You can see how flat the beer is. ”

    Flat, schmat. It scored well and the company was good. Nuff said. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point.

        In that case, you could have said “even people from the Americas”. 🙂


  4. The Royal Oak is a very good pub, no doubt, and Harvey’s is a good brewery even if their bitter is a bit too sweet for my liking. I have one major issue with the Oak though and that is the staff. It seems that it is made up of students and part time workers. Even in London it should be possible to get better employees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was one lad learning the ropes and another slightly older chap talking him through who was running a good pub I thought. The barmaid in the Bridge House was professional and very friendly. London impressed.


      1. I’ve been there three times over the last 18 months. Hardy a representative sample as far as drinking days are concerned, but I left unimpressed. In fact, I think staff quality is an unrecognized element to a good pub. It may be a London issue though. There seems to be more live-in landlords/-ladies elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agree with all of that. London landlords couldn’t afford to live in. Longstanding London landlords (often landladies as at Harp and Seven Stars) the exception.


  5. Actually, you can’t see how flat the beer is; quite the opposite. There’s no significant head beacause it’s not been pulled thrpugh a sparkler. What rhat means is that the carbon dioxide remains dossolved in the beer and hasn’t been forced out to form the head; thus the beer is considerably less flat than if a sparkler had been used, all other things being equal.
    Doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great pub and a great brewery, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Genuinely interesting point, thanks. Full of texture and taste, Actually, Dick and Dave’s pints of Mild had a tight head, perhaps the Mild is served with sparkler or just natural ?


      1. I did not see a sparkler, but Dick had a closer look than I did. The porter was really full of flavor. One of my all time favorite pubs.

        Liked by 1 person

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