Monday, 11 August 2008

the oaks

As published in Time Out Sydney

118 Military Rd Neutral Bay, NSW 2089
Tel: (02) 9953-5515
Fax: (02) 9953-9856

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When it comes to Sydney Pub establishments, they don’t come more established than this one – it’s been there since 1885. A sprawling, wood paneled pub – it has managed to resist the horrible trend to renovate itself into another pub-cum-wanky bar - such is the fate that has befallen many a great pub over the past few years.

Everything revolves around the enormous 70 year-old oak tree out the back – the pizza restaurant, butcher and bar all radiate off the courtyard which is ambiently lit at night, and the toothsome smells of barbequing meat from the DIY barbeques is enough to make any man weak at the knees.

When it comes to dining options, the choices range from gourmet pizza (some options more palatable than others), mezze plates, pots of mussels, traditional pub grub and DIY steaks and seafood – choose between NY cut grain-fed Angus Hereford and more, then slap it on the barbeque and char it to your liking.

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Whilst the DIY bbq is incredibly popular, we feel like making someone else cook tonight, and opt for marinated feta with toasted sourdough to start, followed by a steak and mushroom pot-pie and a pot of mussels in white wine.

Although you have to queue and order yourself, the friendly staff will deliver the food to your table. They skillfully negotiate the labyrinth of tables in the courtyard to deliver your meal, all without dropping your dinner on someone’s head.

The feta arrives first and is marinated with sun-dried tomatoes. It’s soft and creamy, with a great flavour, although a little more bread wouldn’t hurt.

It’s a chilly evening and the hearty steak and mushroom pot-pie ($18) is the perfect wintry antidote. Cutting into the top creates a satisfying crunch through the crisp pastry, revealing tender steak and meaty shitake mushrooms in a rich jus.

The pot of mussels ($22) creates a deliciously aromatic steam once the lid is removed, revealing a very generous serving of mussels, cooked in a white wine broth. There are other flavour options, but this one is classic and very well done. The mussels are small, but there are plenty of them. They’re tender and taste equally of white wine and of the sea. The chips, garlic aioli and bread for dunking make this dish more substantial – and gives you something to soak up all those briny juices from the depths of the pot.

Gastro-pub it ain’t, but what you will find here is good food, a surprisingly unpretentious atmosphere and a slice of history rolled into one bite.

Opening Hours

Mon - Wed 10.00am - 12.00am
Thur - Sat 10.00am - 1.30am
Sun 12.00pm - 12.00am

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