19th February 2020

On Thursday I popped down to meet Mrs RM in Sevenoaks ahead of a big adventure I’ll tell you about later (rest easy).

The Thameslink train towards Brighton, if it’s not cancelled as usual, stops at London Bridge and spares you much of the chaos of the Kings Cross/ Underground route with folk holding Travelcards upside down at barriers.


Our half-term holiday brings a flood (sorry) of mums and dads and toddlers on their first ever visit to the Smoke, or more probably the Wheel and the Aquarium.

Some lucky children get to see the street art around Borough,

Still never been Sharded

and enjoy time on their phones while their parents drink gin in Borough Market.

Six fast trains to Sevenoaks an hour from the Bridge, so plenty of time for a couple in London’s top boozing street before Mrs RM asked where I was.

Nothing new since my Autumn visit, and I resisted the obvious.

Best visited at 6am

and headed for the obvious.

As walked by the Southworths
Old and new
Perfect street corner local

Hard to write about a pub you know so well, but the Royal Oak went from tenancy to Harvey’s managed house a year ago, with inevitable Twitter fluster (Twutter).

3.30pm on a Wednesday in February; the perfect time to reassess it.

Back bar
Proper pump clips, modernised or not

Stuff that, let’s just have a pint of Sussex and grab that nice table by the door.

Battered glassware showing its age

Three tables occupied in what I think of as the front bar, and a glorious buzz of conversation some way removed from the Queen’s Head.

What seemed to be three generations had gathered around the big table, discussing subjects ranging from Churchill, Malta and the Arsenal (possibly the Royal Arsenal).

Proper view

I couldn’t fault the atmosphere. The Best was good, if a tad thinner than last time. NBSS 3.

Pint sunk, I contemplated my options;

a) Lord Clyde

b) Walk aimlessly in direction of the arches in hope of finding a murk vendor open

c) Go straight to Sevenoaks

d) Stay for a pint of Old

Old.Like me

Always go for d).

Rich, full, tasty, if a little sweet. NBSS 3.5.

Two tables were about to order the excellent food, and as I finished the Old the reservations started to be put out, seemingly on every table.

Still a gem, but if you want to drink go at a civilised time, won’t you ?


43 thoughts on “HARVEY’S IN THE ROYAL OAK

  1. That’s one of my top ten pubs and there’s no beer I like better than Harvey’s.
    I’m planning on a couple of days in London soon and shall get there again.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ve really liked the Kings Arms in Borough, Old Fountain (Old St), the Harp in Covent Garden, the Star in Belgravia, Euston Tap, Pride of Spitalfields in E1, Pembury Tavern in Hackney, North Star in Leytonstone, Pineapple in Kentish Town, Dog & Bell in Deptford, Hope in Carshalton, and of course the Express in Brentford.

        More than you’d think then 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not necessarily all my favourites but the 26 London pubs I used last year were
        … EC1
        ……. Hand and Shears 1
        ……. Old Mitre 1
        ……. Rising Sun ½
        ……. Viaduct Tavern 1
        … EC4
        ……. Black Friar 1
        ……. Cockpit 1
        ……. Olde Cheshire Cheese 1
        … NW1
        …… Doric Arch 2
        …… Euston Flyer 1
        …… Signal Box 4
        …… Somers Town Coffee House 1
        … SW1
        …… Buckingham Arms 1
        ……. Lord Moon of the Mall 1
        …… Red Lion 1
        …… Star Tavern 1
        … W1
        ……. Fitzroy Tavern 2
        … W2
        …… Mad Bishop and Bear 1
        …… Monkey Puzzle 1
        …… Victoria 2
        … WC1
        …… Cittie of York 3
        …… Mabels Tavern 4½
        …… Museum Tavern 2
        …… Princess Louise 2
        ……. Chandos 2
        ……. Harp 2
        ……. Salisbury 1

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Citra,
        I don’t consider the Signal Box to be as good as their equivalent Parcel Yard and Mad Bishop & Bear and am quite sure that after you’ve had “a look” you will “still stick to the Euston Tap”.
        You’ve probably realised that the Signal box and a few others were mainly for convenience while most of those 26 pubs have interiors of historic importance.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, I wasn’t meaning to criticise the Signal Box,
        Those with wonky knees can approach it by escalator – and there’s then no stairs to the toilets unlike the spiral staircase needed for the poky khazi in a nearby venue favoured by Citra.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems a lifetime since I was in the Royal Oak. On lodge in St Albans, working West End and City for a few summer months, which was a great opportunity to explore including the just opened Vinopolis which wasn’t quite the piss-up I’d hoped for. The Royal Oak doesn’t seem to have changed, must catch the National Express down one day and revisit all those fabulous new Firkin pubs…


      1. I hadn’t realised there were still Firkin pubs about.
        I certainly haven’t been in one for many years – but I don’t get about as much as you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So is there a pub still bearing its old Firkin moniker? Or were they wholesale re-badged? I thought maybe the Fleece & Firkin but that’s just The Fleece now.


      3. None called the “(something and) Firkin” but I’ve seen ancient livery, notably at The Flag next to Watford Junction.

        Still the odd Tap & Spile and a Tut n Shive from that era about


  3. I think the Royal Oak has got a *bit* smarter since the change in management. I get the feeling Harveys would like to go down the Adnams route – all pastel colours and cookware shops. Those new pumpclips are a hint of things to come.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t seen much Harvey’s Old either, and I live close to the Kent-Sussex border.

        Your best bet for Old Ale is to find a Harvey’s tied house. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve read about the Market Porter before, and how you can find folks in there in the early morning, having finished working the night shift, enjoying a pint or two as most of us would at day’s end. Have you ever been in there to behold such a sight (if not partake in the ritual yourself)?


    1. I haven’t (it used to be about 6 till 9 in the morning), but I suspect Paul has. Certainty a few other pubs near the wholesale markets in central London were similar. Nowadays you can get a pint in Wetherspoons at 9 or earlier, of course.

      Do any local American bars open early?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do recall seeing a guy at a sort of 24-hour family restaurant in Ohio having a beer at what was for him the end of his work day, but was for me breakfast time. So I expect it can be found here and there. But I don’t think I’ve seen real bars open in the morning, except in places like Las Vegas.

        Then of course there’s always the airport, where the “one shouldn’t drink in the morning” rule seems to be perpetually suspended!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. WhatPub has “11.00 am – 11.00 pm” for the Market Porter but then in the description adds “Retains its traditional market licence early morning opening 6-8.30am” so I might try it next week while staying just half a mile away.
        Smithfield Market was the best. Gone now but while I could I enjoyed about fifty breakfasts and twice as many pints there. .

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was in the Lord Clyde recently and loved it for atmosphere and looks. Probably less so for the beer. Rate the Kings Arms highly for both

    Still I rate the whole area around Borough quite highly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Best visited at 6am” – oh, no, I was half an hour late in the Market Porter yesterday morning but I had the Harveys Sussex Best Bitter that I missed in the Royal Oak the previous evening because I had been on the Dark Mild, Old Ale and Porter.


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