The imposing mahogany bar at this restored, traditional, two-roomed backstreet boozer offers an opportunity to sample the full range of ales from Sussex brewer Harvey’s of Lewes. Their cask Mild, Pale, Best, Porter, seasonal specials and Star of Eastbourne are rare travellers from Sussex, seldom found as a bespoke line-up elsewhere in London – in fact this is the brewery’s first tied house in the capital. The Royal Oak’s food – a mix of hotpots, pies, fishcakes, game and casseroles – would be familiar to its original Victorian patrons, as would ciders, if not the numerous wines from far-flung shores. Staff are cheerful, prices reasonable, the company convivial, and there’s no irritating Muzak (or gaming-machine bleeping) to contend with. Conversation is easy – much as it was in Chaucer’s day: the scribe records the area’s heroic beer consumption in his Canterbury Tales.
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