Ramsden is a delightful Cotswold village tucked away off the beaten track just off the B4022 between Witney and Charlbury. The Royal Oak is a listed Coaching Inn dating from the 17th century and was used as a watering hole for the London to Hereford stagecoach. John Oldham, the larger than life landlord, has presided over this free house for 18 years and the pub has a stunning reputation for food and wine.
Built of Cotswold stone, the Royal Oak faces the village church and War Memorial and is a popular meeting place. The surrounding countryside is very accessible for walkers and there are several popular circular routes. The Royal Oak provides welcome sustenance regardless of the length of walk!
The bar with its stone walls, exposed beams, open fireplaces and welcoming atmosphere provides a pleasant environment in which to enjoy a quiet drink or to sample one of the large selection of home cooked bar meals.
The Royal Oak has been included in the Campaign for Real Ale's 'Good Beer Guide' since 1991 and regularly features unusual beers from small independent breweries. There is an excellent wine list, which is shared between a number of local Wine Merchants including the Oxford Wine Company.
John employs three Chefs, Frenchman Fred Doussin, Spaniard Salvador Dominquez-Fernandez and English lady Amanda Irving. I've no idea which of these three cooked my lunch, which consisted of a half dozen oysters (no effect!) followed by Basque Bull Fillet. This was all washed down with a bottle of Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc from the Gascony region and a robust Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Los Vascos. I had budgeted for a one-hour snack but eventually rolled out at 4 pm.
Naturally I wasn't driving but therein lies the problem - I live the wrong side of Witney so, wonderful as this pub is, I do not visit as often as I should.
One or two other points I should mention. John is keen to use local suppliers wherever possible and each Thursday he has a fixed price 'steak night' which is extremely popular and represents great value for money, as does the three-course Sunday lunch.
To the rear of the main building are self-contained bedrooms - ideal for the tourist or business traveller seeking a peaceful night away from the noise and anonymity of the large modern hotel. Twin, double and family rooms are available with special rates available for out of season or long-term occupancy. A full English breakfast is included in the price of your room.
Finally, children are welcome - provided their parents ensure they behave!