Second visit the “The Royal Oak”, Maidenhead

An impromptu visit to the restaurant we visited back in February. As this was our second time I decided to forego the camera and tasting notebook, so this blog will be a fairly short one (hoorah I hear you say!!)

Saturday 5th June was a lovely sunny day, and after a busy day here and there we were looking forward to dining out. Arriving at the pub for our 7PM booking we were met with a friendly greeting and asked if we would like to go straight to our table. As we were hungry and thirsty we decided to go. Our first visit to the pub was Valentines, and as such had a bespoke menu. This time the menu was the usual one they use (you can see it here) and we chose the following:-

Mini had the “Asparagus with duck egg and parmesan”, “Peppered Haunch of Venison with Creamed Spinach and Sauce Poivrade” and “Chocolate Fondant, Toffee Sauce, Pistachio Ice Cream”

I had “Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait with Toasted Brioche”, “Fillet of Black Angus Beef & Veal Sweetbread, Marrow Bone and Red Wine Sauce” and “Chocolate Fondant, Toffee Sauce, Pistachio Ice Cream”. As I wasn’t driving I also had 2 pints of London Pride (1 with the Parfait and it was a great match!). A glass of “Syrah, Viu Manent, Chile 2008″ (lovely, oaky and spoicy taste, medium body) with the beef, and a glass of “Jurancon-Organic, Petit Manseng 2005 ” (a really light dessert wine, but bulging with flavour) with my dessert.

Mini enjoyed the starter, stating that the egg was light and flavoursome, and the parmesan “hollandaise-esque” sauce was yummy. He had the venison back in February and it was magnificent again this time. The mash potato is the creamiest mash we’ve ever seen, you could pipe it using a 0.1mm piping bag and I don’t think it would clog!

Like Mini, I had the same starter as last time. Just can’t say no to fois gras. The brioche bread was lovely and warm, and doorstep thick! The parfait comes with a quinelle of fig and a port reduction – devine. The fillet beef literally melted on the plate as it was cut, really deep in flavour. The sweetbread was very light and dissappeared quite easily :) This was my first try at marrow bone, and I loved it. Immensely intense flavour of all the best bits in meat, the FAT! Cubes of the marrow bone were scattered across the fillet. The sauce, I am sure, is a reduction of Marmite! I think they mentioned it had a “yeast extract” but I love Marmite, and this is definitely almost identical.

So, all good so far, well not totally. Chips. Yes chips. Chips to me should be crispy on the outside, dry (not dripping with grease) and fluffy in the middle. These chips came in a small bowl, but there were plenty of them to go with the dish. Unfortunately about 60% of them were more like “cripsy potato shards” just like you get when you over boil potatoes that are for roasting, and the split and then these pieces really crisp up. They weren’t in-edible, just a bit too crunchy – “C-, could do better”

Finally the dessert. A very impressive fondant. Bitter dark chocolate powder on the outside, cut it open and light chocolate inner with a gooey, runny chocolate sauce that spills out onto the plate. The pistachio tuille was really strong with the flavour of those labour-intensive nuts. Pity the ice cream didn’t have the same hit (was the same when we had the dessert 1st time round).

As a change to the normal coffee and petit fours, we both plumped for the “Ginger Twist” tea (website here where you can buy it amongst lots of others). The tea arrives in a divine “pot for 1″ teapot. Lifting the lid lets a HUGE refreshing waft of ginger out, really really nice, and a great drink for a warm summer evening. When you drink the tea you also get a peppermint taste in the background. I think we will be putting some orders through the UK branch.

The bill came to £144 (including the 12.5% service charge) which I don’t think is overly expensive, considering my drinks cost about £25, so about £50 a head. Interestingly, en-route to the gents they have snippets of reviews etc. There is one there from 2008, with a scan of the bill. 2 years ago, the Venison was £16 – it is now £24 (so a 50% increase). I know prices fluctuate and things get dearer every year, but I hope this 50% increase isn’t just due to the 1 Michelin Star.

So, if you are anywhere near Maidenhead then you really must take a look at this place. I can see how it got its Michelin star recently; great staff and friendly service throughout, really good food (ok get the chips better and it’s “really fantastic food”) and relaxing environment. You may, as we did on this visit, even see Sir Michael Parkinson.

Royal Oak on Urbanspoon