A local pub with lovely grub…
St German’s Road, SE23 1RH
t: 020 8690 9222 | www.thehonoroak.co.uk
It’s not often that The Grumpy Chef and I venture out of town into suburbia, but our visit to Forest Hill last weekend proved to be a worthwhile trip out of central London. With Sunday being one of our only days off together, a hearty roast dinner has become a weekly treat that we both look forward to, and The Honor Oak‘s offering is unexpectedly impressive considering its quiet residential location.
Recently refurbished from a dark and dingy boozer to a family-friendly eating and drinking house, The Honor Oak is a place where local residents can enjoy reasonably-priced food and drink in warm and friendly surroundings with excellent service from well-trained staff. In addition to the bright and airy bar and cosy dining room, there’s a large outdoor dining area at the back of the premises, a patio and smoking area at the front, a spacious function room fondly known as The Whisky Room due to its custom built whisky cabinet, and a private dining room perfectly sized for intimate gatherings with family and friends.
Whilst I had planned on photographing each dish before eating it, I must confess that I was so eager to get stuck into my starter when it arrived at the table that I completely forgot to take out my camera — a sure sign of an irresistible plate of food. Beautifully seasoned with just the right amount of smokiness, the mackerel paté served with creamy homemade tartar sauce and crispy wholemeal bread was a delight, so much so that I actually felt sad when it came to an end. Sad as I felt in that moment though, my spirits were soon raised when a plate of roasted lamb accompanied by Chantenay carrots, roasted spuds and parsnips and buttered spring greens was plonked down in front of me.
Sitting proudly on top of the lamb like a crown was a humungous Yorkshire pudding — a necessary component to any decent roast, and one which made the whole dish look even more appealing to me. Tempting as it was, I was slightly disappointed with the potatoes when I got stuck in, finding them not as crispy or fluffy as I’d expected. Having said that, the lamb, sourced from the Colne Valley in Essex, was beautifully rosy, tender and perfectly seasoned, and I was pleased to find that the chef’s efforts also extended to the gravy, which was made with a proper meat stock to give a rich, superbly meaty flavour. Also very tasty was the hubby’s corn-fed chicken. Whilst the meat was a little on the dry side, it boasted a deep, almost gamey flavour and had a crisp golden skin, which more than made up for the slight lack of moisture.
Sharing a love for sweet treats, we couldn’t even consider leaving without guzzling a couple of desserts. My chocolate brownie with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream was pretty standard, but the summer berry Eaton mess was a different story, providing just the right combination of sweetness, creaminess and crunch — a very satisfying end to a lovely meal.
Offering two courses for £19 and three for just £22, The Honor Oak’s Sunday menu is excellent value for money, especially considering the very generous portion sizes, which left us feeling nicely full for the rest of the day. In a city where style over substance all too often prevails, it’s reassuring to know that a decent, reasonably priced plate of food can still be found.