I haven’t had pizza like it in a very long time, let alone in a local pub. The former Seven Stars pub on the Hammersmith/Shepherd’s Bush roundabout has been given a total gutting and it would seem that Jasper Gorst knows a thing or two about running successful pub dining rooms.
The Oak is a recent addition to his portfolio which include the Bird in Hand in Brook Green, The Oak in Westbourne Park Road, and The Old White Bear in Hampstead. But that’s a little background let’s get back to The Oak.
The outside of the pub has changed very little, given a new facade, signage and an improved terrace with an attempt at greenery to protect the smokers from fumes of the cars on the main road, which is close.
The first thing you see when you go through the main entrance is a wood fired pizza oven, treading on the white floorboards, and admiring the funky painted wood clad walls, filled with cool art, the initial sense of airiness and colour choice lulls you into thinking you’re in a chic seaside retreat.
Stunning interior design which wows at the same time exuding quality and a nod to the designer’s great eye for detail. It’s not anywhere near water – Stamford Brook is probably the closest thing to it, but the only gulls you’ll hear are the lost ones who are looking for the Thames.
The bar is occupied by solo drinkers and a couple sharing a bottle of wine, the rest of the space is the informal dining area.
We sit down for drinks in the back of the restaurant and the service is swift and very friendly. Our waiter is Italian and knows the drink and food menu well – which is always a bonus. It’s pizza that is the main focus here but there’s also some interesting plates which lend themselves being cooked inside the magnificent oven. We move to our table back in the bar eat.
I ordered ‘the zucchini’ pizza which was generously laden with a thick tomato sauce base, mozzarella, chargrilled zucchini, salted ricotta, rocket and was finished with a generous drizzle of truffle oil (£12.75). Thin and crispy without a hint of soggy bottom, this was for me, Italy on a plate.
Mr opts for the roasted Atlantic cod, prawns, black olives and capers (£17.00) and what arrives is a spectacular plate of food which tastes as good as it looks. Crispy-skinned cod, a deep flavourful fishy tomato jus arrives studded with black olives and capers. The two prawns were as meaty and as large as the cod and had taken on all the gorgeous fishiness of the sauce-base.
It’s at the back of the restaurant you’ll find a private dining room with a set menu of assorted tapas dishes for anyone who wants to use it. The cost is £28pp for two courses and £34pp for three.
Of course, there are plenty of great food pubs around here, The Princess Victoria (which has been given a new lick of paint), The Eagle (which never fails to disappoint), but it’s always great to have somewhere new and I have to say The Oak was busy and we will definitely be back for food. I have a feeling it will do really well here, there’s space for larger groups, the food is great, the staff seem switched on. With the formula they have in place at the moment I have no doubt in my mind the Oak will be growing strong in the years to come.
The Oak W12, 243 Goldhawk Road, London, W12 8EU