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Review: The Royal Oak, Midhurst

Muddy revisits this 17th century rural foodie haven on the outskirts of Midhurst and finds its the perfect pub for any occasion.

Sometimes you arrive at a pub and you just know it’s going to be brilliant. Muddy first reviewed The Royal Oak during lockdown, when new owner Frankie had bravely taken up the reins and instantly adapted to the new challenges of hospitality. Thankfully their innovative posh pub grub drive-thru was a huge hit and the pub survived the turbulent time. And thank goodness they did as it’s a real gem! Fast forward to Spring ’22 and with signs of new hope and a impressive display of tulips outside we were excited to find out what they offer now.

LOCATION

The creds are ample before you set foot inside – 17th century pub, nestled in the South Downs national park with brilliant countryside walks nearby and plenty of local options to stay over. It’s a pretty pub, in the tranquil village of West Lavington just outside of Midhurst and is a mere 15 minutes from glorious Goodwood.

THE VIBE

Inside is warm and stylish with a mix of beautiful wood flooring and exposed brickwork, loads of cosy seated areas with antique chairs, cushions and cool accessories. There’s a fab beer garden out front which hosts a cool space with it’s own bar and music lounge vibes. It’s perfect for private functions and is popular for wedding parties. There’s also a smart private dining room (below), for a more special occasions or bookable as a remote workspace.

The outdoor stretch tent (below), set in the pretty garden makes a brilliant space – cosy enough for Spring showers and in sunny weather has sliding doors that open onto the beer garden.

The pub is popular with locals, walkers and riders (wheels and hoof variety!), but also attracts people who come just for the food. We noted yummy mummies having a good natter too, so its very child friendly whilst still maintaining a sophisticated feel. And that’s what this pub does well – it balances it’s village pub necessity, while also being a destination for foodies..

SCOFF AND QUAFF

The food here is seriously good, and I don’t say that lightly. The menu is both high-end and well curated – choose from from favourites like fish & chips and steaks to pan-fried hake and Persian lamb shawarma with seasonal ingredients sourced locally where possible.

We kicked off with assiette antipasti with fennel salami, roasted garlic and rosemary focaccia, plus we noticed plenty of delicious looking options catering for vegan and gluten free.

Feeling like it was a posh fish Friday kind of day, I opted for the pan-fried hake fillet, mussels, Parmenter potatoes, samphire & leeks in a curried velouté and was really impressed. My date chose the chicken Milanese with creamed spinach & wild garlic butter topped with a fried egg – always popular apparently!

To drink we opted for a cheeky white wine spritzer (well it was Friday), and coffee instead of dessert – but had we had room would have opted for the appetising caramelised lemon tart or vegan chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries and honeycomb which looked right up my strasse.

PILLOW TALK

It’s not a pub with rooms, so if you are looking to make a weekend of it and enjoy this pub there’s a good choice nearby including the infamous Spread Eagle hotel, Cowdray Estate which has self catering options and Park House Hotel.

OUT & ABOUT

Cowdray Estate is just over 5 minutes away, teaming with options for making the most of a day of country pursuits or if you fancy wine-tasting Tinwood Estate Vineyard is just under 20 minutes drive. The town of Midhurst town itself is teaming with quirky and traditional traders for retail therapy including our personal favourite Madeleine’s Deli, if you want to take home some local food delicacies.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Couples looking for a chintz -free date night on a weekend escape in this idyllic area. Great for Sunday lunch (or any lunch!) and walkers – it’s dog friendly too.

Not for: It’s a country pub tucked away in the countryside with great walks nearby, so if you’re looking for something more formal, though I’d go elsewhere.

The damage: Mid range. Starters and shared plates £6-18; mains £13-26 and desserts around £7.

The Royal Oak, Oaklands Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 0EP Tel: 01730 817478

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