TO the delight of many diners, there has been something of a shift in recent years towards traditional local pubs offering excellent quality food.
Gone are the days of pub grub, where it was simple fare that seemed to play second fiddle to the pints being served at the bar. Now, choose your venue well and you can combine the best of both worlds, with excellent ales, fine wines and a menu that will tickle even the most discerning tastebuds.
At The Royal Oak in Cogenhoe, there's a relaxed, traditional pub atmosphere for diners and drinkers alike - just as you'd expect from a finalist in Food Pub of the Year category at the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards last year.
The ales are well kept, regularly achieving a top rating in Cask Marque checks and there's a wide selection of wines and spirits, while the kitchen prides itself on its range of dishes from simple starters such as humous with pitta bread or something special like Arancini Diavolo - Italian rice balls filled with fiery nduja sausage, nuts and chilli. Main courses include the classics like Steak and Royal Oak blue cheese pie and scampi and chips, through to Norwegian skrei cod - meaty chunks of seasonal fish simply roasted with lemon and butter.
Also available, with prior booking, is vintage afternoon tea. The sumptuous spread, served on traditional china, is proving popular for baby showers, hen nights or simply groups of friends enjoying a special treat.
Since taking over at The Royal Oak five years ago, Kath Garner has placed great emphasis on buying local wherever possible.
As a result, Whites Nurseries in Earls Barton provide fruit and vegetables; meat comes from Tom Hewer and the cheeses are from Jason in Church Street, Cogenhoe. Recently, microgreens, with their delicate textures and distinctive flavours have also been sourced locally to enhance the attractiveness and taste of dishes.
And, for those looking forward to the warmer weather, The Royal Oak has a large garden and covered outdoor seating area together with a pizza oven.
Find out more at www.theroyaloaknorthampton.co.uk or call 01604 890922 for details and bookings.