Making a good pub great: Q&A with the Royal Oaks Jamie Malouf [gallery]
Having recently undergone a major refurbishment, Double Bay’s Royal Oak Hotel has well and truly cemented its position as a people’s venue of Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Hospitality recently caught up with co-owner of the venue, Jamie Malouf to chat about the recent refurbishment, new menu and what he thinks makes a great pub stand-out in a crowded market.
What separates a good pub from a great pub in Sydney?
The difference will whack you in the face as soon as you walk in. A great pub will have a distinctive “heart beat” that makes a guest feel at ease as soon as they walk through the doors.
To achieve this at the Royal Oak, we focus on building a great character in each facet of the venue. The mood and ambience is carefully constructed through music, lighting, decor and, most importantly, good old fashioned genuine customer service.
And of course, the way to people’s hearts is through their stomach so a fantastic food offering is essential.
What did you set out to achieve when you decided to revamp Double Bay’s Royal Oak?
The Royal Oak has a rich history and it’s this that helped motivate us to return the pub to its glory days.
The most exciting addition is Phil’s Rooftop, an entirely new rooftop bar with a large terrace that serves a full cocktail menu. We’ve also added a leafy Garden Bar which means we now have several spaces that service our variety of guests and occasions whether it’s a ladies lunch, game day with the boys or a family meal.
The pub food scene across Australia has really stepped up its game over the last five or so years. How important is a quality food offering to the Royal Oak?
It’s one of our top priorities. The new head chef, Michael Page, is passionate about quality seasonal produce so our new menu features five to eight constantly rotating specials that are based on the best ingredients available that week.
You’ll also find some innovative share plates including a spicy chorizo balanced by a beautiful cider glaze and orange marmalade.
In your experience, have you found that people are more likely to spend more on a quality pub meal today than they were five or so years ago?
Yes, absolutely. There is no doubt customers now love the fact that they can get a high quality meal in a more comfortable and casual environment, such as an upmarket pub. No longer do customers have to frequent fine dining restaurants to get good quality, tasty food.
Share dishes feature quite prominently on the new menu at the Royal Oak, have you found them to be popular?
These have been extremely popular on the new menu. We have gradually increased the “share plate” offering over the past two years, and the demand continues to grow. People love trying a morsel of everything and sharing is such a social way to enjoy a meal together.
What is the Royal Oak’s point of difference in Sydney’s crowded pub scene?
As a family run business we are dedicated to ensuring customer service is of the highest quality. We have a friendly and warm environment, whereby all types of patrons can walk in and feel comfortable.
Our different themed areas also mean people from all walks of life have a great time at the Royal Oak. The girls can stop by for lunch and a cocktail at Phil’s Rooftop while the lads can catch all the action in the sports barl it’s a diverse offering.