74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN The Royal Oak
When Dan Doherty goes into a pub to cook, don’t expect reheated lasagne
In the last few years, some of these pubs have risen above the competition thanks to their endeavours in offering more than just pub grub; even the definition of’gastro pub’ seems a little obsolete.
That’s because some of these establishments have become actual culinary destinations that locals love and non-locals make an effort to visit, and are often managed by well-known chefs (Heston Blumenthal and Tom Sellers to name a couple).
One such pub is The Royal Oak in Marylebone, not far from the station and slightly off the touristy attractions of the area.
Until a few months ago, it was a regular pub, a nice one at that but just another boozer. What is different now?
The food, of course.
Dan Doherty, formed executive chef at City of London restaurant Duck & Waffle, book author and recently, TV presenter (on BBC Britain’s Best Home Cook with Mary Berry) has taken over the pub (with business partner Andy Ward) and completely revamped its food offering as well as overhauled the interior of the venue.
A big change of direction for Dan, used to the perhaps glitzier world of his previous kitchen. The place itself is attractive but with nothing particularly different from any other well-presented period pub.
The ground floor space of the Victorian Grade II listed corner building is occupied by the bar and a number of tables for dining in, surrounded by original panelled walls and ceilings and the patterned tiles.
Upstairs, a newly set up dining room, while outside, wooden benches fill up with drinkers during the warm summer days.
After the first few months of developing the menu (while at the same time hitting the ground running to cater for the local regulars and his own followers), Dan has now finalised the pub’s offering and is fully operational.
The flavours are fresh, simple in the most wonderful way; the ingredients locally and sustainably sourced.
A starter of burrata, peas and mint is a gorgeous, delicate dish with high quality elements put together in a clever way; the addition of crumbed pistachio gives a lift to the overall result which makes it a truly memorable dish.
A vegetarian main of roasted onion squash comes served with deliciously whipped feta and pickled beetroot, a classic pairing yet here too there’s an extra textured addition (a sprinkle of nutty dukkha) which elevates the flavour tones to great height.
The dessert we tried once again sounded a little boring on paper in truth, but from the first mouthful revealed itself a delightful explosion of floral aromas, with the most delicate yet intense saffron custard, crunchy crumble and fresh, macerated strawberries.
Dan’s talent shines through the menu, which keeps getting bigger and better; the recent introduction of Sunday roasts and Saturday brunches have proved immediately very popular.
During the weekend, Dan’s original touch revisits classics: Baked eggs in a roasted mushroom cream, spinach, cheddar, chives, toast and Brixham crab benedict, avocado, toasted muffin, devilled hollandaise are a couple of the options available.
The Royal Oak is a relaxed and informal vehicle which enables the tireless chef to offer earthy, genuine, rustic and flavoursome food at affordable prices.
In Spring 2019 Doherty will close it for a full refurbishment which will involve a redesigned ground floor and an informal fine dining room upstairs serving an entirely separate menu, and we can’t wait to see what surprises he has in store.
74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN