Restaurant of the month: The Royal Oak Whatcote
The Royal Oak in Whatcote is a newly refurbished country pub with traditional bar area and a dining room with a short 4/4/4 seasonal menu and a 5 course set menu. Specialising in country fare with lots of wild meats and some bits from local hedgerows. We had a chat with Richard Crown who runs the pub to talk more about British Food.
Why do you do what you do?
A happy accident, I worked part time in a hotel whilst at school and loved the buzz of the kitchen.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being my own boss and having the freedom to cook what I enjoy, especially being able to butcher whole animals and use the whole beast including the offal, and having receptive regulars who enjoy what we serve.
What do you enjoy the least about your job?
No shows. People who book a table and who don't turn up without the courtesy of a phone call. It can be really frustrating.
We're located in a rural location and are unlikely to get too many people dropping in on the off-chance of a free table at the weekend, however we do usually have a waiting list of people wanting a table.
At our old place we used to take credit card details that would be charged if this happened, we really don't want to do that here but it does seem to enforce a bit of decency, we understand plans can change but it would just be courteous to let us know
What achievement for the restaurant are you most proud of?
We had a really nice review from Marina O'Loughlin in the Sunday Times four months in, that was very much appreciated.
Do you use British Produce?
We use British produce whenever we can and we're quire lucky because the majority of our produce comes from within 15 miles of the pub. We try and extend this as much as possible to the bar side too with our draught beers being sourced from Britain! We currently have Deya American Pale Ale from Gloucestershire, Freedom Lager from Staffordshire, Hogan's Cider from Warwickshire, Magic Rock Session IPA from Yorkshire and a Pale Ale from Oxfordshire! Our flowers come from Bumble and Wild around 5 miles away who's ethos reflects ours sourcing their British flowers seasonally as well.
What do you think is best about using British Produce?
I love having the relationship with people that build up slowly over the years, the challenge of changing the menu as seasons change.
Why should people buy British?
My wife, Solanche, told me this fable:
There's an old tale about a stranger who stopped in a town and left money for the hotel owner as a deposit. The hotel owner paid his butcher who in turn paid the pig farmer. The pig farmer then pays the person who delivers the feed. The guy at the co-op runs to pay off his debt to the hooker who, gave her services on credit because she knew that he was on hard times. She in turn runs downstairs to pay the hotel owner for the rooms she rented for her clients.
Basic economics. We buy local to keep the local economy going. Buy British, keep Britain going.
What is your most popular dish?
The pigs head and black pudding lasagne is the only dish that hasn't left the menu since we opened and has people travelling miles for it, I can't quite believe that a second cut has been so popular, this is especially satisfying as the ethically farmed rare breed Tamworth pigs from Paddock farm are less than a mile from our front door!