MTV boyfriend had a long overdue catch up last night with our friends Suz and Ben at local gastro pub The Oak. More gastro than pub, the whole downstairs is set out as a restaurant with a bar in one corner the only nod to The Oak’s pub origins. The room has high ceilings with the walls painted a dramatic black colour in contrast to the simple wooden tables and chairs. At night time candles on every table add warmth to the space. The boys ordered beers and Suz and I were delighted to find that you could order a few of the wines by carafe for those times when you want more than one glass each but are not keen on a full bottle. The Sangiovese we ordered was very quaffable and reasonably priced at £7.
We started with some bruschetta which was served as individual pieces of toasted bread along with a pot of chopped tomato and basil so that you could construct the bruschetta yourself. For a main course I ordered the wild mushroom risotto which was suitably creamy and studded with fresh English porcini and morels. They could have been a little more generous with the serving size (rice is cheap!) but this at least left me room for dessert.
The star of the show at The Oak is the pizza. A wood fired pizza oven is visible in one corner of the kitchen and during our meal a chef stood there the whole time expertly kneading dough and twisting it in the air like a giant pizza frisbee. The best of the bunch seemed to be the “Prosciutto pizza” which had a perfect thin, crisp base topped with tomato, parma ham, mozzarella, rocket and Parmesan (pictured). There was so much rocket in fact that MTV boyfriend kindly pointed out that my photo looks more like a photo of a garden bed than a pizza.
We shared desserts and MTV boyfriend predictably ordered the creme brulee as he is drawn to it on a dessert menu like a moth to a flame. The creme brulee at The Oak is “thyme infused” and served with a strawberry and basil coulis. It was good, but the thyme infusion was unnecessary, why mess with a classic dish like creme brulee. I stole a finger lick of the chocolate mousse and was glad to find that there was no mucking around here, it was rich and fluffy and served in a little basket of sesame seed tuille with creme anglaise.
The Oak is cozy and congenial: an excellent place for a pizza fix. The downside is that for what you get the price is not cheap.
Details: 137 Westbourne Park Road, Bayswater, W2 5QL (Ph 020 7221 3355)