The Royal Oak and Simply Indian, Borough

In some ways The Royal Oak is a bit of an oddity. It’s one of only two London pubs tied to Sussex brewery Harvey’s, and as such there is an inescapable association for me with some of the country pubs I frequented in my semi-bucolic youth. I have a suspicion that it secretly wants to be the Compton Arms, but its location down a side street in Borough puts pay to that, and what’s left is a fine boozer indeed.

The beer’s unsurprisingly good. The surroundings are comfy without being fussy. It’s even kept the two bar split, which is always a good thing in my pub book. However, what really makes it for me is that it manages to be both a locals pub and welcoming to strangers at the same time, an all too rare combination in London.

It is also happily just along the road from Simply Indian, which even more happily is unlicensed and lets you bring in big jugs of beer from the pub. So after a few pints our now rather intoxicated party rolled along the road with for a curry with a couple of jugs of the Harvest ale.

I don’t know if the place started out as an upmarket takeaway, until the owners decided to put a few tables out front, but it certainly feels that way. It’s none the worse for it either: basic, but done right, without either being self consciously minimalist or unwelcoming. The lamb samosas were just as good as Sarah said they would be, and my Goan green curry was nicely mouth puckeringly sour.

After such a fine combination of curry and ale, I was left wondering why pubs don’t collaborate with curry houses more often. It certainly makes more sense than the bafflingly common Thai/pub combination.