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Royal Oak, Lewes

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user reviews of Royal Oak, Lewes

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Not very busy for a friday evening but decent enough
terenced - 13 Feb 2018 08:55
Looks a bit uninviting from the outside, but the staff are really friendly and the draft Budvar is excellent. Have been back a few times, mainly on weekend/holiday afternoons, and it's never been busy - couldn't comment on what it's like on Friday or Saturday nights though. Prices seem decent for the area which is a big draw. My one criticism is the music - instead of Heart FM, some real Rock 'n' Roll would be nice...!

Anyway, this is one of the few pubs in Lewes that feels like a proper pub and not a fancy restaurant; well worth a visit.
CannyRogue - 19 Jan 2013 15:49
Unassuming pub which, for bonfire, was stripped of furniture and looked bleak. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by the bubbly bar staff and the 'chavvy' customers were really quite polite and welcoming. We went back later.
This pub won't win awards ~ but it was an entirely enjoyable experience.
bighands - 7 Nov 2012 08:09
Despite being a Greene King pub, only one of the four beers on tap was theirs. Also had Old Hooky, an orange beer and Hophead (Dark Star) on offer. Went for the latter which was very palatable.
Food was pretty mediocre - very small piece of fish, about six peas and not a huge amount of chips for not much south of a tenner.
Very pleasant girl behind the bar.
An okay boozer - would go back again for beer but not bother with the food.
duchyjim - 17 Jun 2012 18:33
Despite being a Greene King pub, only one of the four beers on tap was theirs. Also had Old Hooky, an orange beer and Hophead (Dark Star) on offer. Went for the latter which was very palatable.
Food was pretty mediocre - very small piece of fish, about six peas and not a huge amount of chips for not much south of a tenner.
Very pleasant girl behind the bar.
An okay boozer - would go back again for beer but not bother with the food.
duchyjim - 17 Jun 2012 18:33
First visit made to this pub last Saturday, as it is about the only one in central Lewes that I've not got round to bothering over the years. Sadly, as I always suspected, it isn't one I shall be bothering with again in a hurry.

The exterior presents itself pleasantly-enough, and one would assume there is a fair-to-middling chance of it being a worthwhile drop-in - after all, few pubs on this manor are aesthetically-lacking, and most have enough kerb appeal to draw even the most wary of punters. The Greene King signage might be a put-off for some alemeisters, but even so it's worth giving some of their outlets a fair crack of your whip, just to be sure.

So one would perhaps expect a pleasant interior, but maybe rather uninspiring cask beer? Not a bit of either. I think (bear in mind the caveat that I was 8 pints down at this point!) there was a potential five ales on, albeit that on my visit only four were available. I had a seasonal Bateman's beer ('Spring Goddess?') which I found to be most palatable. There were three GK-related beers in stock, but clearly the management aren't obliged to stick slavishly to their beers alone. No, the beer didn't really disappoint and credit where it's due.

The interior decor and atmosphere however, decidedly did. The immediate impression was that of a dingy, subterranean pub-club venue (a shock given that that pub is very much above ground level). The smell of disinfectant noted by a reviewer on 3 July 2010 was sadly still in evidence (one has to wonder what it is they're covering up?!). All in all I did not find it appealing .

The Royal Oak just has to be kept by a younger manager; it clearly pitches itself towards the studenty market and occupies the kind of territory that the Snowdrop used to, before it was taken over and re-born in a far more appealing and mature idiom. The radio was blasting out Heart FM's Saturday stalwart 'Club Classics'. The only punter one would not expect to have been seen dead in here (maybe he was in fact dead?!) was an old bearded boy studiously reading some railway-related literature while quaffing ale from his own pewter tankard. The old Lewes though was outnumbered though by an increasing number of younger folk who I suspect had less-enriching activities in their sights than a spot of quiet reading. If there is a 'rough' element here, I'd have to guess that this would be a natural magnet for them, although in fairness I didn't stay long enough to see how things developed throughout the evening, so it could just be my dear old small-minded prejudices speaking again.

I did - ahem - have cause to use the toilet facilities here. I must say, the disinfectant had done its job and I found them to be in decent nick, despite having some trepidation given the rather dank experience I'd had in the bar area, so fair dos on that one folks. I should also make it clear that I don't recall the main bar area being dirty either.

I suppose this pub suffers all the more from being set in an affluent, well-to-do town which tends to major on civilised, smart, traditional and characterful boozers. Compared to some of its nearby neighbours the Oak just doesn't play in the same league, although I can see that it does offer an alternative experience for those who aren't seeking any of the above elements. I could also be persuaded that during lunchtime hours it might have a broader appeal?

Not my cup o' cha I'm afraid, but well done for doing something different in the local context, and for keeping what I found to be perfectly decent cask.


TWG - 14 May 2012 17:07
Not good - pub brawl after a really dull evening. Karoke in a small corner of the pub was just beginning to build an atmospher but sadly the manager was not in control and youngsters were getting so drunk that all they could do was fight. In the end the fight and most of remaining clientele went onto the street outside and remaining clientele were told very abruptly that the bar was closed. Managers were very slow to step in - hence the unfortunate result and remaining customers having their Friday evening ended prematurely. So, for a visit - don't bother - there are other pubs very atmospheric in Lewes e.g Lewes Arms - just behind Fisher Street. For November 5th - Royal Oak staff - from what I could see - will not cope - manager and husband arguing at the till - sorry luvs no time for this on the 5th - I recommend your clients go elsewhere where the staff won't be arguing but serving!!
regularpubgoer1 - 4 Nov 2011 22:27
Reasonable enough pub where we watched the whistle go on City's FA Cup semi victory. An avergae kind of alehouse worth dropping in for a swift pint in.
Snarling_Mallard - 17 Apr 2011 11:35
Popped in with a couple of friends for an after-work drink one Tuesday. The pub was almost empty, with a couple of locals with dogs at the bar, but the music was so loud we had to shout to each other to be heard. (Understandable for a Friday or Saturday night, but not 6pm on a Tuesday). We did not feel particularly welcome and left after one quick drink for the more lively, but quieter, Lewes Arms.
Hogarth - 16 Feb 2011 10:06
Visited last Saturday. First impressions were a strong disinfectant smell.
However, we persevered and perused the two menus - one was pizzas and one was 'normal' food. Most of us plumped for something from the 'normal' menu but when going to order we were told that only the pizza menu was available!!
Surely it wouldn't have been too much trouble for the barmaid to have taken the 'normal' menus off each table as we were the only customers so she would have had loads of time on her hands!
Very disappointing and I doubt that we shall return.
chunkypetersplat - 3 Jul 2010 19:51
Nice pint and the pub layout, with small garden, is nice. However at nearly £3.50 for a pint of cider, its a bit steep.
skippybn21 - 26 May 2010 09:53
Although this is a Greene King pub and the layout and décor is pretty basic I still enjoyed my visit and supped a nice couple of pints of Guinness. There were also four standard GK ales available along with Davenport’s Highland Whisky Ale and a standard draught selection. As has been mentioned in previous posts, food is served at very reasonable prices and although I didn’t eat I saw some being served and it looked good value for money.

My visit was very early afternoon so it wasn’t that busy, but there were a few aged locals smoking away in the small paved beer garden that has some covered seating for wetter days.

There are no TVs, but the background music was ok and played at a nice volume. I spotted a sign in the toilet for folk nights every Thursday evening in the large function room that is available for hire.

The maid was very friendly and I would go back in here if passing again.
Strongers - 4 Nov 2009 12:51
Lovely little pub 5 real ales on tap cheap and tasty food and friendly barstaff, by far not the worse pub in lewes
superseagulls - 20 Jul 2009 17:49
i find the oak to be a pretty decent little pub, dont go there loads but always feel welcome in there which isnt a feeling you get to often in lewes pubs lately. it seems to be run by a top bloke with a sound bunch of locals. it wouldnt hurt them to put the heating on a bit though.
chuckitdown - 30 Jan 2009 01:22
not the best pub in lewes but not the worst either , no atmosphere .
9ooner - 20 Dec 2008 21:30
On our recent pub crawl to Lewes, we didn't bother going in here since it's now GK. Interesting that all the recent reviews are about food not beer.
arnoldlaine - 6 Dec 2008 13:40
tried the cod the other day , i have stopped complaing about the prices now!! fantastic ,even my mother liked her pie and mash!!
harveyslover - 1 Mar 2008 21:10
nice friendly pub , nothing special though , had nice soup there on friday but 3.95 was a bit steep !
harveyslover - 19 Dec 2007 13:46
Just popped in there today! Wife and I had a lovely Vegan roast dinner, well worth the money and the beer is top notch too!

Excellent!
exiledyorkie - 30 Sep 2007 15:50
Good pub with great food and friendly staff
jaywhoopee - 1 Jun 2007 14:17
Popped in on Sunday, nice enough place (wasn't drinking the ale, so can't comment), however the Sunday roast (chicken) was one of the nicest I have ever had!
deho - 26 Feb 2007 13:53
Nice place to have a good laugh with mates!

This pub has come a long way in the last few years.
expa - 29 Nov 2006 13:58
A friendly pub with fine seasonal and varied foods and a kiddies bar for sweets.

Outside there is the newly decked rear yard with tables and seating.

Unfortunatley it is one of the ex Beards houses that Greene King will not allow to sell Harveys though the Ruddles does make for a pleasant change occasionally.
There are usually at least another 2 ales available too.
nonnick - 13 Dec 2005 10:19

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