The Royal Oak Hotel, one of Fitzroy's North oldest institutions, has seen one hell of a glow-up thanks to the team behind Marquis Of Lorne. The pub which rests on a corner on Nicholson Street, reopened last Friday. The familiar green facade has been torn away—making way for bold red and burgundy colouring and striped awnings.
Taking charge in the kitchen is executive chef Scott Stevenson (Marquis Of Lorne) alongside head chef Robbie Noble, fresh off his head chef role at the famed Parisian bistro, Clamato. Together they've crafted a Euro-bistro-influenced menu while still retaining the traditional counter meals of the pub from a burger, a steak or bangers and mash.
The menu is considered and features the standards but with a unique twist, there's homage to the days old with the chips served with lashings of chicken salt alongside aioli. Bigger dishes include the golden-fried schnitzel which is served in a pool of expertly crafted mustard sauce and strip steak plated up next to whole-roasted shallot and a subtle peppercorn sauce.
There's also a specials board in the public bar which is a big focal point of The Oak. Dishes change daily and are centred around seasonal produce, anything from roast porchetta to a whole-grilled turbot.
Led by publicans Will Benjamin, Cal Hitchens and Ryan Crick who took over the venue back in February, The Royal Oak is imbued with a nostalgic Australiana feel, there are vintage beer mirrors up above, the footy's on, and the beers are cold.
Looking to rectify the commodification that took over most Melbourne pubs through the early 2000s, the Royal Oak is focused on re-establishing the soul of the local pub as a place of community.
"We want to make it feel as its approachable for everyone, it should be a place where you can bring your mates, parents, kids, nieces and nephews, even your dog", says Will.
The entire space has been completely renovated by Will and the team and the only original fittings are the wall tiles in the public bar and the carpet in the bistro. New additions include the art deco-style pendant lighting, a dark-stained wooden bar that wraps around the room and booth tables.
Regardless of all the new look The Oak still retains its timeless pub vibe, "everyone keeps asking, 'So did you actually do anything to the space?' because that's just what it's supposed to look like, a bit of a backhanded compliment Will laughs".
The Royal Oak Hotel is open now, head over here for more.
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Image credit: The Royal Oak Hotel - Duncan Jacob (supplied)