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Royal Oak, Fritham

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user reviews of Royal Oak, Fritham

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

The Royal Oak is the 3rd most common pub name in the UK.
Tuna - 26 Feb 2017 19:48
Called in here for the first time in many years just recently to find it just as we remembered it. Who in their right mind would want to see this place change anyway? It was heaving outside with people having lunch and a drink on a lovely sunny day and we found that the inside was practically empty because of this. As we'd got a bit warm riding our bikes through the forest from Frogham, we decided that sitting indoors with a nice cooling through-draught was the better option anyway. The Double Drop and Dark Star APA were both very welcome - and very good - with the excellent ploughmans that we each had. I hope nothing changes between now and when I get the chance to call in again.
littledrummerboy - 9 May 2016 14:45
Went to The Royal Oak at lunchtime today (Easter Saturday). Heaving with wet and muddy walkers and their dogs. All the customers and staff very good natured and the staff providing prompt and efficient service behind the bar. I think there were six draught bitters on offer, although one may have been a stout. I drank five pints of the Flack Manor Double Drop as it was in such fine condition. My mate drank a pint of Double Drop, a pint of something else and then went back to (three more pints of) the Double Drop. My wife had something non-alcoholic so that she could drive us home. The pub thinned out a bit after lunch and we had some of their very reasonably priced home cooked food, which was excellent. The open fires were a pleasure and the dogs were all friendly and well behaved. It was a great pleasure to be so well looked after and I must try to get there more often.
topsailjon - 26 Mar 2016 18:17
My wife and I deliberately went out of our way to find this little gem a couple of weeks ago. And what a find. Superb pub , friendly staff and service. Nine barrels on serving by gravity - six on and three settling. My wife asked for a half of Guinness, but I ignored that and got her the Black Forest, described as a 'Piquant Porter' and it went down a treat.

Then I came on here to see previous comments. For what it's worth, let me join in the various discussions.

I wasn't aware of the 'no cards' policy - how many people really go around these days without some cash in their pocket ? Surely this is rarely a problem.

Childrens' play area ? What ?? Let them play on the open grassy areas over the path - there is no moving traffic to worry about for heavens sake. What are you after - one of those great plastic gorilla things with swings hanging from each arm ?

A restricted food offering - why don't they offer a larger menu of hot food ? Haven't you noticed that the whole pub would probably fit inside Blumenthal's kitchen. Their menu is what they are comfortable with , and there's nothing wrong with that. If you want more then go elsewhere.

The owners / managers are obviously happy with their business model , so leave it to them - they know what they are doing. As an indicator of how they consider themselves to be a community pub , the outside toilet block ( nicely rebuilt and spick and span ) had a notice allowing any passing Duke of Edinburgh award parties to feel free to use their facilities.

So leave this pub alone - it's a cracking little find and doesn't need changing in any way. In a comment on another pub some years ago I said I never give a mark of ten out of principle , but in this case I'm going to break my own rule. Ten out of ten , and well deserved.
philanders - 6 Nov 2013 17:32
What a gem of a pub! The Royal Oak in Fritham is well worth searching for. We chose to visit in the evening, as we hoped (correctly) it would be quieter than during the day. It is quite a small pub which gives it great character, but I’m sure it can get very busy. I was drinking the Flack’s Double Drop, which was superb.
BiffoBeer - 29 May 2013 10:47
Really food pub, had 5 beers on. The ploughmans was great too.
legionuk - 23 Mar 2013 09:19
A great pub, and I am glad to see that they have maintained the standards. Superb ploughmans, not over-priced considering what we got. 5 beers from the cask today, tested two which were great, others looked very good. Lovely fire. Just wish everyone would close the door- its not difficult and it marred our lunch a little. Sign and door closure needed. All in all a superb pub not to be missed.
SPB - 30 Oct 2012 17:19
Pootling around The New Forest on our bikes, came across this pub by happy chance. 7 or 8 real ales all dispensed by gravity from the back of the bar. Had Flack Manor Double Drop and the house beer Royal Oak IPA, both in excellent, polished condition. Only 2.90 a pint! Their food menu is simple, mostly a variety of ploughman's, but local cheese and ham which we enjoyed in the sun in the huge garden with great views of the countryside. Just about as good as it gets.
henrythenavigator - 6 Sep 2012 16:47
We have been coming to the forest for over twenty years and this is the only pub that still fails to provide the standard menu all day and evening, and doesn't take credit cards.

Which is exactly why we still travel hundreds of miles, as often as we can get away, to visit this lovely pub, where the locals are friendly and treat us like people and not gruckles :)

The beer choice is always superb, and the welcome warm. If anything, it's a little sad to see how it has modernised (no more old rugs and verderers benches) over time.

Given there are dozens of places that cater for chip eaters, card carriers and fussy kids, why on earth should this last little gem of a pub be homogenised? Long live the mighty little Royal Oak, and its lovely community.
jeanniejules - 12 Apr 2012 21:26
A delightful little traditional pub in a part of the New Forest with some excellent walking in the immediate area at any time of year (we went in January). Very clean toilets in modern outdoor block, ample choice of some real beers (have I mentioned these in the wrong order??). Adequate lunch menu, tasted delicious and was promptly and properly served despite a full house (they had known in advance that a group of us was coming). "Cash only" policy was nearly a problem for some in the group who had not known, but was sorted out among those attending - if the policy helps keeps the cost down, who am I to complain? A very pleasant outing - I'll be back.
Altair - 25 Jan 2012 19:48
I will add my penny's worth to the many comments on here, and I found the pub excellent as well. I knew in advance about the cash only policy, so was prepared. The limited menu is in their favour becuase they can keep the food of a very high quality, and also serve up very fast, despite being extremely busy. Beers were varied and unusual, but always good.
happy_wanderer - 15 Sep 2011 17:33
Simply the best in the Forest. This pub is superb. The beer is great - straight from the barrel. The food - all locally sourced - ranges from enormous ploughman's lunches to delicious homemade pies and quiches. For a pub which, according to one contributor, doesn't welcome children, there were a quite extraordinary number around on the several occasions we went. Only one set of parents walked out because QUOTE he's only four and won't eat what he hasn't seen before UNQUOTE. Clearly fresh salad vegetables and local cheese were not on his menu at home! Unlike those of a family of locals who packed out the table next to us. These is a real country pub in the way I remember it and very welcoming. and it must be one of the few pubs that has a pony park instead of a car park - but there is a large car park nearby. If you want to get the feel of the Forest - and I speak as one who comes from an old Forest family - then you must not miss this pub. But beware - it gets very busy at weekends.
Pompeybelle - 3 Sep 2011 12:05
Excellent pub!

The beer is varied and very well kept. The food is unpretentious, mostly locally sourced, appropriately priced and served in portions of a size that satisfies hunger without bloating the gut. The staff have always, in my experience, been friendly.

I like the fact that it does not take plastic, does not serve chips and expects children to be able to eat human food. For those who do not like these things: there are loads of nearby pubs where you can satisfy your needs, so please just leave those of us who do like it with the only one of its kind in the area.
Tetenterre - 30 Aug 2011 17:44
I'm not going to enter the debate about "children or no children" and "debit cards or no debit cards". The pub is what it is and you either like it or not. I envy "Spuddles" and I would go back tomorrow if only to try more of their superb ales.
paul_d102 - 29 May 2011 22:48
I read the recent observations on the food & the pub not taking credit or debit cards, & I would like to add my 1/2 penny worth. I have used the pub for some 40 years, & up until it was purchased by 2 local family members some 12 years ago, it had been run by the same family for 3 generations, a private drinking club or farm with a pub attached, rather than a proper pub.

When it was sold, the locals & regulars were concerned about who would be the incoming staff, luckily, two of the village people Neil & Pauline were appointed as landlord & landlady. Their brief from the new owners, (who don't think of themselves as owners but more as the present custodians of this unique Forest gem) was not just to make it a viable commercial enterprise, but also preserve the character of the pub without loosing its appeal to the locals & regulars, that is one reason why there is no food in the evenings & no child play area (The Forest is one big child play area for Gods sake), in the evening we get our pub back. So if they were to repeat what other pubs in the Forest were selling, deep fried cuckoo spit, beer battered rook wings & tempura squirrel tail, they would have to install an unsightly ventilation system, ruining the visual impact of the building. This was not going to happen & so that dictated the menu style.

With regards payment type, I have seen many people arrive without cash, & a way of paying to suit what they have is nearly always reached. Considering that on a busy 3 hour lunch session more that 300 meals have been despatched from the kitchen, I think they must be doing most things right. So my friends if this does not suit you & you want all you can eat with two types of potatoes & payment by card, go to the Haywain at Bartley, located 1 mile south of J1 M 27 Cadnam where a carvery lunch will set you back 3:69.

However if you are 1 of the 36000 food customers a year who like what they do, come back soon.
Spuddles

Spuddles - 21 Apr 2011 07:56
Well let's avoid the personal insults. I disagree with both StoutChappie and TFA (who fortunately is not!) - children and their parents are vital for the success, no existence, of tens of thousands of the pubs in the UK.

There is very little, if any money, to be made from half pint supping real ale drinkers. Food, soft drinks (coke at 2.50 a pint, cost some 25p) and wine are what keeps the great British institution of pubs alive.

I am one of those annoying people you lovingly cherish so much... travelled to the New Forest to meet at Fritham with friends and our..... CHILDREN plus heaven forbid... our DEBIT/CREDIT CARDS!!!

I know, utterly scandalous for 2011 - when will I learn?!

This pub is lovely - but being proud that you have such a limited menu (pork pies/ploughmans/quiche) all served in a plate so small that when it arrives it looks as though the chef has gone for three helpings at the buffet cart - is madness.

Food was nice but nearest cash point is eight miles away, so like theredcat we watched group after group stare at each other in amazement when they were told no cards.

OK no chips - my children don't eat chips, nor do they like red sauce. They will eat "grown up" food. So maybe the Royal Oak could serve it? Because cold sausage roll and mounds of salad for a warming Sunday lunch is not good enough to drag me back.

It will continue to do well - but if you aren't drinking an ale on a cold, wet windy evening I think there are many better pubs locally.


JW1 - 4 Apr 2011 14:07
Despite the fact that I think StoutChappie is a total prat, I'm afraid I must agree.
PUBS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN!
I do think the card situation should be reviewed though.
The_Final_Arbiter - 27 Mar 2011 23:11
This pub is at one end of a busy cycle track through a beautiful part of the New Forest. One would think, given the numerous passing visitors, they would make the most of their location. Unfortunately a huge opportunity has been missed.

Though it gets good reviews from the real ale brigade who eagerly beat a path to its door, there is more to a pub than the beer and it is let down by its refusal to appeal to those who just want the basics.

The garden is good but could be great if only it had a children's play area. There is a gravel square, presumably waiting for the influx of petanque-playing Frenchmen, which I've never seen being used. On a busy weekend afternoon there are loads of kids in the garden with nothing to do except eat crisps.

Why oh why do they refuse to take cards? Have they not calculated how much trade they turn away by this policy? I stood in the queue today behind someone who was keen to spend their money but couldn't. They were in a large hungry group wanting to eat lunch. Instead they had to share drinks and a few bags of crisps because they could only scrape together a few quid in cash. The landlady even took great pleasure in telling them they didn't take cards! Most pubs struggle to get punters through the door but this pub can't wait to turn them away.

Why is the menu so limited? Ploughman's are so 80s. Just because they are in the New Forest doesn't mean they have to be so posh and aloof. Most locals and tourists are not tally-hos so why not cater for them. The Fighting Cocks at Godshill does a constant roaring trade as it appeals to more than just toffs and CAMRA members. This pub should offer a wide range of snacks at lunchtimes. Baguettes, sandwiches, pies, lasagne, burgers and yes, just chips would be good. Save the posh nosh for the evening. Most people who have just cycled 10 miles from Sandy Balls with a family in tow want good simple food not duck breast or pate even if it is locally-sourced. There is no children's menu and with many families visiting this place the kids go hungry. Also, why is there not a large cake selection and cream teas?


theredcat - 27 Mar 2011 21:23
Possibly the best pub in Hampshire bar none. A superb selection of ales, moderately priced, roaring fire and friendly staff and locals add up to a lovely evening. 10 out of 10
mightybifkin - 20 Jan 2011 12:56
Cracking beer, friendly welcome, super food and the greatest pub fireplace in the UNIVERSE!
beerPrincess - 29 Dec 2010 17:45
Excellent ales and food. A lovely looking pub, (if it was my local I could not be happier), great location, friendly attentive staff, what more can you ask for.
gileyboy - 16 Aug 2010 13:01
One of the best pubs in the new forest. Lovely walks, dog and children friendly. Excellent beer, excellent simple menu. Friendly staff and excellent service. Definately worth a visit.
chloe999 - 8 Aug 2010 12:59
I have lived near the New Forest all my life and thought I pretty much knew most of the pubs in it, but I never knew about this little gem. Thanks to perusing 'Beerintheevening' I read all the comments about the Royal Oak and thought I'd give it a go, and I was impressed. Love the location, the look of the place, the atmosphere, the service, and the beer! I love my real ales and to see that they keep it in the barrel here and that the pints are gravity fed cheered me up no end. Of the seven barrels, I tried the Vale Ale, and Bowmans Royal Oak, both in perfect condition. Didn't try the food, but it looked good, and all locally sourced from around the New Forest. The nice mix of tourists and locals gave the place a warm atmosphere, and made me want to come back which I will definately be doing in the near future. Make it a must visit place, if you are ever in the New Forest.
hampshirehog - 4 Jul 2010 20:11
No adverse comments but only a 7.1 rating. Something seems to be wrong.

We have used this pub when in the area for several years and have always been highly satisfied. Our two children love this place and look forward to the next opportunity to drop in, perhaps surprising given that there are no chips, burgers or play areas to be found here.

All real ales are served direct from the cask and are always in excellent condition.

Best pub we have ever visited.


Deepingwanderer - 6 Jun 2010 22:55
Our favourite new forest pub. Lovely atmosphere, dog friendly, good beer. Not that big and so can get crowded - but well worth a visit.
foxmulder - 14 May 2010 15:35
Utterly fantastic, worthy of all the accolades and anyone giving this pub anything less than a solid 10/10 should clear off to a Harvester etc and stop getting in my way at the bar in this family run faultless watering hole. Best selection of ales anywhere that I can recollect, cosy fires, great staff, good bar snacks etc etc
bustergonads - 18 Jan 2010 00:19
A cosy and traditional pub with log fire and a pleasant and efficient service. The beer is excellent and well kept, tried the Royal Oak and it is to be recommended. I also had problems finding a table as it was so popular. Apparently it was full mainly of walkers who had completed one of other of the many surrounding walks. My soup and bread was excellent too.
Feed - 5 Dec 2009 01:15
Superb. Loved the location, which is always a good start. A really good choice of excellent beers straight from the cask. Welcoming and well informed staff. Cosy log fires. Will go back to try food, which looked really good.
SPB - 1 Nov 2009 18:40
As usual; exceptional! Well kept beer, friendly staff/owners, very good locally produced food and dog friendly too! Great little pub!
TEL3 - 1 Nov 2009 09:44
Superb, I'm in agreement with all the positive comments about this pub. Definitely in my top 10, and one to come back to.
ferend - 25 Oct 2009 12:52
We arrived just after twelve o'clock on Monday and noticed small groups of walkers filtering in to the pub at a steady rate. By the time we went in, there was only one table left. How many pubs can claim to be full before 1230 on a Monday lunchtime? Speaks volumes. Some decent beers from Palmers and Bowman and locally sourced food topped off a very pleasant session.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 30 Sep 2009 13:09
Surprised about a couple of negative comments about the locals as we were made very welcome by staff & locals in this pub, and that was over the Bank Holiday weekend too when the place is overrun with tourists.

Great location, walking distance from one of the NF campsites (Ocknell/Longbeach), lovely old building and simple but comfortable and authentic inside.

Food was superb - simple meals such as pies and ploughmans, but the four different ploughmans our table had were all excellent, fresh and good value.

Great real ale selection, served from the barrels kept behind the bar. Particularly enjoyed the Royal Oak brew, which proved to be an excellent session beer!

One word of warning - if you've an addictive personality, keep an eye out for the old chap with snuff sitting at the bar, or you might get sucked into that as well...

Definitely one of my top ten pubs.
zeanard - 8 Sep 2009 19:23
A lovely 'picture-postcard' country pub, with low thatched roof and roaring fire in the heart of the New Forest.

The interior boasts several drinking areas plus simple but excellent food that includes local cheese and home smoked sausage. The ploughmans looked fine indeed.

A fair selection of good quality ale within, usually sourced from Hop Back, Bowmans and Ringwood. These are served from stillage behind the bar.

One or two of the regulars were a bit offish. Otherwise, this is a great place, especially if you can bag a seat next to the fire on a cold winters evening. Recommended.
Quinno - 11 Jul 2009 20:11
Good beer at sensible prices (for the New Forest). Shame about the locals who really don't want anyone from a few miles down the road drinking in 'their' pub. I was watching the morris men dancing there on Thursday night and on two occasions the dancers were driven through by locals in desperate need to get home in their cars. Shame.
topsailjon - 11 Jul 2009 13:32
for the first time ever i ask about a pub in the top ten, why has it only got a score of 8.7? if one pub in the forest is worthy of a very high mark it has to be this one
littlecon - 11 May 2009 09:24
Took my girlfriend back to this lovely pub in the NF and really enjoyed the peaceful beer garden and top views. Coastguard from Weymouth was good and tasty as well as Palmers Dorset Gold but the best drop was Stonehenge Great Bustard of the 6 on offer. Cracking Ploughmans and the place is ALWAYS a 10 in my book.
dotball - 4 May 2009 10:48
This pub fully deserves the praise that's heaped upon it. We keep going back to this pub time after time when down in Hants. The beers are always fantastic and varied, the food is good and you just feel as if you've taken a bit of a step back in time. Go here after a good walk in the forest to get up a good appetite.
littledrummerboy - 22 Apr 2009 14:56
A small group of us called in here on Saturday. Excellent choice of beers and a wonderful location with friendly staff and locals.

Will certainly pay another visit.
MartynG - 31 Mar 2009 13:46
Dating from early 1600s this tiny thatched pub is one of the oldest in the New Forest and mostly unspoilt. Front bar + 2 traditional rooms & log fires. 5+ Beers all on gravity stillage. Large rear garden hosts summer BBQs + Hog Roasts. Other times its a small lunch snack menu - soup or ploughmans. Beer Fest in Sept. A lovely quiet remote spot where animals abound, this is a traditional country pub which in all respects should be idyllic, and yet there is an oddness about it which I cant quite put my finger on. New loos in adjacent block to high standard.
Reviewed23/01/09 by SADCATS on Tour! SCORE- 7.

Saxon_Scooper - 30 Jan 2009 21:01
Amazing location in the New Forest.
At this time of year you can see free-range pigs trotting past along the road outside.
Bronxrichie - 8 Nov 2008 23:47
This is my favourite pub, even tho' it's a 100 mile round trip! PLEASE don't go there.
goodshepherd - 17 Aug 2008 17:21
A great pub in the middle of the New Forest, and a perfect mornings walk from the Red Shoot campsite for a lunch stop.
A good selection of beers served directly from the cask behind the bar and are always in excellent condition.
Food is basic (don't expect chips!) and only served at lunchtime, being ploughmans, soups and the occasional sandwich.

Just beware of the opening hours - they don't open until midday on a Sunday (and an hour is a long time to wait when you've walked from the Red Shoot) and shut during the afternoon.
Shags - 24 Jul 2008 16:13
This pub should be listed as a national treasure. Excellent beer, extremely good food. The only pub in the South of England I would give a "9" to.
HenPen - 25 Jul 2007 20:42
Can fault anything, staff great food amazing, no chips just how a pub should be. Beers are good too
housewifefav - 7 Apr 2007 21:21
Fab Food - Fab Beer - Just Fab really!

Well worth a visit - even if it is little off the beaten track.

9/10
HughJarse69 - 26 Nov 2006 20:54
This is a great place. Please don't go here, it's busy enough and I like to go inside sometimes.
rgb - 25 Nov 2006 17:32
Superb...Magical...Excellent...Just some of the superlatives already applied in earlier descriptions of this pub. And all are accurate. The Royal Oak is tucked away in an unspoilt rural location with winsome views across the Hampshire countryside from the large rear garden, which helps to soak up the overspill in hotter weather, for the pub itself is charming and cosy, but not large.
It is run with huge efficiency by 2 ladies who know their beer, which is always a pleasure to see. THe ales are served directly from the cask and are predominantly locally-sourced (Ringwood, Itchen Valley, and the old Cheriton brews have all been caught here in recent times). So this alone makes it a must for the ale lover.
But beyond that, it also specialises in basic, but tasty pub fare that exploits good quality ingredients to maximise flavour. Portions are also generous. Try the cheese ploughman's, for an example.
There's little doubting that the pub is preferred by well-heeled locals and visitors who tend to have a discerning eye and naturally gravitate to such outlets. But to say all are of the hunting fraternity is a little misleading; I have always found the clientele to be friendly, and of a broad mix of age, gender, and dress-sense. I can't recall the bar being surrounded in a surfeit of tweed last time I visited in April.
I should also mention that the interior is equally favourable on cold Winter days as it is in hot Summer days.
Although not a complete all-rounder, this comes pretty close and its unique character ensures this ranks very high in my book.
TWG - 27 Oct 2006 10:23
Went to the latest Beer Festival here (I attended all three sessions plus the indifferent Folkie stuff Saturday lunchtime) the other weekend and enjoyed several good real ales. Was there also for the music which was excellent and provide by a fabulous band the average age of which must have been at least 65 but boy o boy...could they perform. Its a pity that on Saturday night most of the people were there for the hogroast and not for the music but it was a beer festival after all. Super little pub but take a good map to find this hidden gem of a pub.
Earlhamcourt - 2 Oct 2006 11:43
Good pub with plenty of ales available. Small bar but large garden. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the New Forest.
blamm - 24 Aug 2006 15:49
Best pub yet that I have found in the New Forest. Excellent real ales on gravity in a totally unspoiled and unpretentious environment (tiny, tiny bar). The limited food is simply ace. Beautiful home made quiche or pies and salad. Fully deserves the praise in these BITE reviews
GrahamH - 23 Aug 2006 12:58
Magical pub. Wonderful food, well-kept beer on gravity (my favourite). Free newspapers, lets dogs in, no bl**** canned music, in every way a perfect pub.
Try the ploughmans with local cheeses. Or with ham.
twm_sion_cati - 21 Jul 2006 14:35
Visited the small, but perfectly formed pub last August (05). Excellent pint of Guiness and the Ploughmans the family and I had were top class (and not overly priced).

My only criticism would be that some of the locals (those who dress like they have just been fox hunting) look at you as if you are a second class citizen. But, thats not the Pub's fault.

Would go back on my next visit to the New Forest
FattusBlokus - 6 Feb 2006 18:27
Have been to three Beer and Jazz festivals here and they have all been excellent. The actual pub must rate as one of the smallest ever but they have a brilliant marquee for the jazz and the real ale bar and the food. A brilliant weekend of drinking and music and I look forward to going to their sixth next year.You will need a very good map of the area because this pub is situated in the middle of nowhere..very popular with the rambling fraternity who all seem to own very well-behaved dogs.
Earlhamcourt - 26 Sep 2005 10:06
I love this place its like drinking in your own front room, appart from your front room is probably bigger!
Lots of well kept real ales, all on the back bar, and the best Ploughmans around, wether you visit this pub in the height of summer or a deep cold winters night when it is all snow around it, you never want to leave.
Its like a proper chocolate box pub.

pubcustomer - 3 Aug 2005 13:11
This pub is very small and homely. one of the more traditional type pubs in the New Forest. Very welcoming. It serves a variety of real ales, including guest ales. Having never eaten I cannot comment on the food. I use this pub all year round on occasions. When it's cold they have real log fires
tillyer2000 - 12 Jul 2005 23:54
Lovely place. There are at least 25 benches out in the garden, mental.
brionyot - 18 Apr 2005 15:46
Very good little country pub. Fires in winter, good food and no juke box!
Dr R Stacey - 13 Sep 2004 11:18

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