The Royal Oak - Columbia Road

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Words by Simon Difford on 18-Apr-2015

The Royal Oak - Columbia Road image 1

Address: 73 Columbia Road, (corner Ezra St), London, E2 7RG, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 2220
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat-Sun noon-11pm
Door: Open door
Style: Gastro pub
Recommended for: Alfresco, Food
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu


Positioned smack in the centre of Colombia Road, famous for its Sunday morning flower market, the Royal Oak has retained its original work-a-day interior from when this pub was rebuilt in 1923. Predictably rammed on Sundays and busy most weekday eves, this old boozer is rightly noted for the quality of its modern European menu.

The Royal Oak's worn original interior has seen it be used for various TV and move scenes including the Kray film and the Goodnight Sweetheart sitcom in which Nicholas Lyndhurst's character was able to go back to WWII by walking through a wall.

A glazed panel ceiling looks down on the oak island bar which sits amidst an oak parquet floor surrounded by mahogany panelled walls topped with the old Ben Truman insignia. Sash windows look out onto the narrow terraced shops opposite. The well-worn mismatched vintage dining room tables add to this pub's homely feel.

As gastro pubs go the Royal Oak's drinks offering is limited but covers all the bases with six white and six reds by the glass, a couple of cask ales on hand-pump and splattering of lagers. We can recommend the Bloody Marys.

Bar snacks include the likes of "deep fried gherkin and blue cheese", fish finger sandwich, and spicy meatballs". The main menu features "classics" such as fish and chips, cheeseburger & skinny fries, and 400g sirloin steak on the bone, alongside "large plates" like the excellent 24 hour olive glazed neck of lamb on the bone.

There's a more formal dining room upstairs but we recommend eating in the bub where the atmosphere is as delicious as the food. A beer yard outback operates as a café on Sunday lunchtimes.