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The Royal Oak Inn

The Royal Oak Inn

Wogan Terrace
SA69 9HA
Tel: 01834 812546

** Update ** Since this review was written there has been a change of Head Chef at the Royal Oak. Wesley Hammond, formerly of the Plantagenet House in Tenby has taken over and promises changes to the al la carte, fish menu and specials boards. "I am endeavouring to exceed the quality of food for which this restaurant was once renowned" says Wesley. We are also assured that the Royal Oak no longer serves frozen fish portions. So take our review as an opinion formed at the time but expect the things that we have criticised to have been addressed. My own view now would be to give it a go and I have made a note to revisit and check out the improvements for myself.

We have visited the Royal Oak before, but some time ago. Our recollection was that the food was rather good with an excellent but rather pricey fresh fish menu. It was always popular and booking is strongly recommended. We therefore went to the effort of pre-booking our early evening table for two.

The Royal Oak is situated in the seaside resort and harbour village of Saundersfoot, a few miles from Tenby. The front of the restaurant provides a good elevated view over the seafront and harbour. In the evening parking would be easy, using one of the pay car parks or finding some scarce free parking. In the summer during the day car parking can be difficult. The Royal Oak does not have a car park of its own.

The Royal Oak is a pub that presents itself in the restaurant market both in ambience and price. Therefore it was my intention to assess it against these criteria.

We turned up and found our reserved table and I went to the bar and ordered drinks. I drank Stella Artois and my wife chose sparkling mineral water. I also obtained a couple of menus and we studied the fresh seafood specialities that were marked on the blackboard. There was a selection including dressed crab, cod, turbot and John Dory. Prices were typically between 10 and 18 depending on choice.

For starters my wife chose the creamy garlic mushrooms and I chose the seafood pot, which was described as an assortment of seafood in a sauce.

For main courses I studied the fresh seafood specials and they all sounded rather good, however I did feel hungry and decided what I really wanted was a good piece of battered cod with chips and peas (in true seaside style). So I ordered the battered cod fillet off the normal menu. My wife is not fond of seafood and so she chose the steak and ale pie.

Our starters arrived and were acceptable. The seafood pot contained a mixture of small mussels, squid, prawn and possibly other bits and pieces, in a creamy sauce. This was served with two small pieces of chargrilled ciabatta bread that was exceptionally tasty. Linda's garlic mushrooms were served with two pieces of wholemeal bread. The mushrooms were nice but she did comment the sauce was rather cheesy, as if served with Parmesan cheese, although it was not described as being served in a cheese sauce.

Our main courses arrived and we were both immediately disappointed. My cod fillet (5.95) was the most miserable portion of bought in frozen and battered cod. This was obvious from appearance, texture and flavour. The chips that we were both served with, were undercooked, pale and starchy. Once again these were frozen fast fry chips rather than any attempt at homemade potato chips. Linda's pie was pieces of steak in gravy, with hardly any evidence of being prepared with beer. The pastry was a shaped top that had probably been heated separately. This was not our interpretation of a pie, which we feel should be encased and cooked in a pastry crust as opposed to just topped with a formed crust.

I was asked how we were enjoying our meal and mentioned the size of the fish. I asked whether it was a bought in frozen and battered piece. To the managers credit he acknowledged immediately that this was the case and offered to bring me another piece. However I declined the manager's offer because one was unpalatable enough, never mind two.

We were extremely disappointed in our meals and can't believe that somewhere that has aspirations of being a restaurant, that boasts a fresh seafood menu, would serve frozen battered cod portions. Although the fresh seafood menu looked appealing I'm actually glad that I didn't invest two or three times the cost on anything on it, just in case! Our bill for two starters, two 'pub' meals and two drinks each was just over 27.

Verdict: We will not be going back. Phil.


Note the update at the top of this review. Given that Wesley Hammond from the Plantagenet, in Tenby has taken over as head chef, then we definitely will be going back to check it out.

Eatanddrink Ratings

The Royal Oak

Total Score: 51%
Quality: Average
Service: Good
Facilities: Average
Ambience: Average
Value: Average

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