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Royal Oak
A little, well, middle-aged.

36 College Street,

(02) 9810 2311

More pubs in Balmain & Rozelle >>

Following on from the nearby Dry Dock, we made our way up the hill to the Royal Oak. Now, I have to make one thing clear. This isn't going to be a great review, but it can't be helped. Here at SydneyPubGuide, we're not big fans of Pokie Machines, especially when they're, as they are here, taking up a large amount of premium, near-the-bar space, with a flimsy curtain surrounding them in a half-hearted attempt to brush them under the carpet. The Royal Oak is, I'm afraid, ruined by the Pokies packing out the front bar, but we can see how good it could be if they were removed altogether or just shifted elsewhere in the pub. The feature brick wall here looks great, especially with the fireplace, except for the fact it's over half-covered with Pokies. A couple of low sofas and tables around the fireplace in an informal arrangement really would be excellent. Just get rid of the flashing horrors first. OK, rant over, what about the rest of the place? Well, an odd mixture, from what we saw in our short visit. The bar itself wouldn't look out of place in a CBD yuppie bar, but the tables, seating and general decor of the main bar is more a traditional pub scene. Out back is the restaurant, which appears to be a major focus here, and the clientele seemed mostly to be late thirties, early forties locals, witht he odd family group, though this being Anzac Day, this may well not be the normal crowd. We lamented the pokies once more, then headed off to the Exchange
review by: Jason

YOUR COMMENTS - Log in or sign up to post comments

PubGoer from Balmain
I find this pub is a little confused. Upstairs has art-deco style lounges (large, round and red seats about 10), a little feature garden and what seems to be a chill out room. Downstairs has a nice looking restaurant, yet on dining their I found the rissoto to be bland, and the burgers were of a size comparable to a fast food food chain. Though you do get the salad bar. A place with such an emphasis on the dining side should provide better quality food (like the Welcome's food). The main bar area could be good (pituresque fireplace etc), but the oft mentioned curtain dividing pokie room spoils the affect. Could be good, but still needs some things to change.
9 Jan 2005

Fee from Perth
I enjoyed my pasta entree but the steak was quite a disappointment. The scotch fillet was terribly tough (it WAS scotch fillet!). It's a decent local, but as not for a visitor like me.
16 Feb 2004

Cliff from Balmain
Terrible. Dingy, dated, unattractive, cluttered with too many tables and too many pokies behind a disgusting curtain slung thoughtlessly behind one side of the bar. Drinks were overpriced (especially bottle sales). There are several other pubs in Balmain well worth spending your money in, notably the Dry Dock and the Welcome Hotel (Rozelle actually).
10 Dec 2003

james from london
as did my mate behind me - the one I had never met before
28 Nov 2003

James from London
I loved that meal so much I started to boo!
28 Nov 2003

Sally from London
My only suggestion would be to add a 20 minute version of Queens Bohemian Rhapsody to the jukebox selection - come on you aussies
28 Nov 2003

Peter from london
You do love dia cheese though kezzer.
28 Nov 2003

Kerry from Manchester, UK
After 12 months in Australia, four years ago, I had the best meal in this pub I have ever had. The restaurant is a real winner, the meat divine and the 'help yourself' salad bar - exquisite. I also indulged in a battle on the duke box with rock versus some dia cheese. A really good day was spent here and I urge you all to trott along to The Royal Oak for some decent pub grub and to rock out at the bar.
28 Nov 2003

janice from cairns
oh what memories i have of the royal oak..It is great to hear from Alison that the staff are still friendly and looking after their customers. That has always been the hotels priority. Unfortunately, poker machines seem to be a necessary evil. If the council would allow live music, what a difference it would make. They could get rid of the pokies and we could enjoy the ambience.
23 Aug 2003

alison from san francisco/balmain
I held my farewell party in the upstairs function room before moving to the US. The room was free, newly renovated federation look with great ambience and a big bar close by. The staff were very friendly, giving us free reign with the CD player.
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