The Royal Oak in Poynings
When I passed my driving test a number of moons ago The Royal Oak became one of our very regular haunts. As a Brighton teenager I remember nursing many a very slow drink in the cosy pub or the lovely big garden.
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Last Thursday Mr RB, my mother, and I all departed Brighton for a big warming meal and a catchup. It was raining all evening and we talked my mother into being the designated driver (been driving for years now, not much to prove!).
“If it’s as good as the menu looks, we are in for a treat” – said mother on arrival.
We were shown to a table in the restaurant area and kicked off proceedings with a few drinks and some toasted ciabatta with Olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mr RB was delighted that he could have a well earned drink tonight – and he proceeded with a few pints of the Harvey’s.
I know Rapeseed oil is getting a lot of good press these days and that as a Sussex resident there are plenty of local producers to support, but I do like my olive oil, especially when it is combined with some Balsamic and some bread.
We were remarkably restrained though and didn’t finish the plate of bread, which turned into a bit of a blessing as you will be hearing shortly.
Mr RB opted for crab cake with chilli sauce off the specials board as his starter and he enjoyed the fact that the sauce had a nice little kick to it.
Mother decided on a caramelised red onion and goat cheese tartlet with a pear and raisin salad which she enjoyed.
Crispy pastry, the sultanas and pears in the salad adding a nice sweetness to the plate and a balsamic reduction bringing the dish together.
My Springs smoked salmon, malted loaf and herb butter was absolutely as good as one expects Springs smoked salmon to be and – luckily for me – there was loads of it! Not so lucky for the next two courses as I simply couldn’t resist finishing this wonderful and substantial starter.
Mother asked me to comment specifically on the fact that there is basically no (or very limited) mobile signal in the pub which was saved us from having to confiscate Mr RB’s phone as we often want to do. There is something quite luxurious about going somewhere and enjoying a meal where you can’t be disturbed by our current over-connected lives.
For main course I had beef, mushroom and ale pie which was served with buttered creamed potato, Cavolo Nero, gravy, and an extra jug of gravy. This was exactly the plate of food I was looking for on a cold and blustery night.
Filling, full of flavour, and no shortage of gravy. I managed half of it before calling it a day so I could leave some space for pudding.
By some miracle though, Mr RB polished off a char-grilled 28 day Rib-Eye Steak with peppercorn sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes, portobello mushroom, watercress, and hand-cut chips, and then he finished my pie.
Mr RB said the steak was well-seasoned, succulent and the cherry tomatoes were popping off the vine. For the sake of due diligence I did try a little of his plate and I can confirm that claim.
I rather liked the peppercorn sauce and the chips were proper crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside chips. Happy days.
Mother had the marinated wild rabbit, mushroom and bacon cream sauce, pappardelle and as she was suitably impressed. As with mine, her pasta portion was on the large side – she recommended a walk before to work up an appetite – but it was very tasty.
Creamy sauce was a nice contrast to the meat, of which there was plenty.
For pudding we settled for two to share: lemon meringue cheesecake served with frozen berries and a rhubarb fool with ginger shortbread and Chantilly cream.
Both were good but if forced to choose we would probably vote for the cheesecake; problem is that would mean missing out on the ginger shortbread – tough call.
Aside from this being a lovely pub venue with locals chatting and laughing around the bar, it also serves a busy restaurant promptly and with a smile.
My 17-year-old self may be surprised to hear that I went for a full three courses, that I chose not to drive, but she definitely wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Royal Oak is still a great place to sit, eat and enjoy the closeness of the beautiful South Downs.