TOO often these days we have lunch on the go - at our desks, while driving between appointments or as part of a business meeting - which is why it's so important to take time out every now and then to kick back and relax.
But it's not difficult to find good food away from the hustle and bustle of the office, and the team at The Royal Oak in Cogenhoe are ready with a menu that offers something for everyone, from those wanting a quick sandwich to those with a more leisurely approach.
Easily reached from Northampton town centre and its surrounding business areas, The Royal Oak is set in a quiet village surrounded by beautiful countryside. It's garden is the ideal setting to unwind and enjoy the good weather, while inside there's a contemporary but cosy bar and a restaurant area the combines a traditional pub with a bistro feel.
When we visited we weren't sure whether we wanted just a sandwich or snack, or whether we'd be tempted by one of the main dishes - you can always go for something lighter in the evening, after all.
Apart from a lunchtime sandwich board - offering a selection of hot and cold choices - the menu at The Royal Oak remains the same whatever time of day. Landlady Kath Garner explained that guests looking for a light lunch often choose to have just a starter with something like a side salad or a bowl of chips to share.
Indeed, the crispy vegetable tempura, arancini diavola (Italian risotto balls with spicy nduja, pine nuts, cheese and chilli) and the marinated Cordoba olives with balsamic oil and bread would be ideal. Even the main courses had something lighter to offer - maybe the smoked salmon and crayfish salad with beetroot, orange, mixed leaf, cucumber and capers, or the Somerset Brie and beetroot tart with crispy salad.
It was, however, the sandwich board that won the day - somehow sandwiches and lunchtime just seem to go together.
Perusing the board, there were certainly a few choices to be made. Warm or cold - in keeping with the recent unseasonal weather I went for something warm and ordered the spiced chicken and sweet chilli jam, although fish fingers with tartare sauce option was more than tempting.
My friend chose the roast beef and blue cheese, having gone for that over the other cheesy option - feta, roast pepper and Sicilian red pesto. The sandwiches are all £6.50 apart from the fish fingers, at just £6, and come with vegetable crisps and a leaf salad. There's also an option of side dishes and we chose to share a bowl of chips and added coleslaw.
With its warm welcome and inviting outside area, The Royal Oak is ideal for a lunchtime break. There's something on the menu to suit everyone, as well as, of course, a well stocked bar with a good selection of beers, wines and spirits, as well as soft drinks and tea and coffee for those who want to keep a clear head.
On our visit we finished with a hot tea each, resisting the temptation of the newest arrival - Peppermint Cannabis tea. It's OK, it's perfectly legal, but there was an afternoon of work to do, so we decided to stick with what we knew.
The Royal Oak is open noon to 3pm and 6pm to 11pm Tuesday to Thursday and noon through to 11pm on Friday and Saturday, as well as from noon to 7.30pm on Sunday. Food is served from noon to 2pm and from 6pm to 9pm.
The pub is closed on Mondays, but is available for private hire for meetings, call 01604 890922 for details.