Royal Oak, Borough

44 Tabard Street
020 7357 7173

In 1997 Harveys Brewery of Lewes in Sussex transformed a run down ex-Courage pub called the Royal Oak into a Victorian style pub. If this was done by one of the big pub companies there would be groans from pub lovers, but Harveys have done a great job and this is a tremendous success. The mahogany bar counter and fittings and the etched glass interior windows are top quality. It’s tasteful and restrained, and you can really believe that you are in an 1850s pub.

There are two bars, each with four handpumps dispensing Harveys beers and at least one guest beer from a Sussex brewery. Sussex Best Bitter, Dark Mild and IPA are always on, and Old Ale seems to be a frequent visitor. Good quality traditional food is available most evenings and at lunchtimes from Thursday to Sunday. I can recommend the pie, mash and veg!

There is a popular weekly quiz, sport on TV for big events and a function room upstairs for meetings and parties.

The pub has become a local for people from all over London and a destination for pub and beer lovers everywhere. In his book Camra’s Great British Pubs, Adrian Tierney-Jones says in the introduction to his piece on the Royal Oak, that the best pubs are

a community of like minded souls, centres of both conversation and contemplation…(and are)…a life affirming home from home.

Can’t argue with that.

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