I’ve recently spent a few weeks looking after a dear friend’s house and her gorgeous kitty Clover, in Balmain, right on Sydney Harbour. My new local go-to was just a few hundred metres away – the Royal Oak Hotel.
Balmain is a quick 11 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, under the harbour bridge, and really worth a visit. It’s an easy walk from the Balmain ferry dock and while the prices are a little on the higher side for a pub, it’s a great place for a meal – in fact I had a few here.
The first hotel built on this site was named the Hollis’s Hotel built in 1878. The name then changed to the Clifford Family Hotel and then the Coates Family hotel, both named after their respective owners. Finally in 1898 the Hotel was named The Royal Oak Hotel. Being close to Morts Dock at Balmain, the hotel became an important stop for the dock workers. The counter meal was popular at the time, but more likely to be roasted or boiled meats, perhaps in aspic.
The pub has a friendly local vibe. People are nice, the staff welcoming and everyone adheres to the COVID-19 social distancing rules.
I absolutely adored these scallops! Cooked to perfection, the chilli jam added a slight bit of heat. I love how they come from the Abrolhos Islands which are located around 80kms off the coast of Western Australia and also known to be home to the southern most coral reef in the Indian Ocean.
While not much of the numbing sensation usually attributed to Szechuan pepper, most of the heat of this dish came from the sliced chilli, however, it was quite moreish and the serving a decent size.
When I ordered the flash fried school prawns I was warned these are whole prawns in their shell, heads and all, that are fried – exactly what I was expecting! It was nice to be told that as I guess there had been some people who found this quite unexpected. Not a dish you would get at most pubs but I enjoyed them, they did need all of that lemon wedge for flavour though. The sriracha was a bit heavy on the heat for me.
Mr HappyFace ordered the goat curry. I tried a bit and it is cooked meltingly well and has a nice tang to it.
The burger patty was fat and juicy. It’s one of those burgers you need to cut in half. While a little heavy on the pickles, again this was a decent feed.
Pub meals have certainly come along way from boiled meats and aspic and The Royal Oak is no exception. While a little on the pricier side, all meals were darn good!
Meals were paid for independently and my time at the pub, away from Clover, was NOT endorsed by her.