Holy Shuck!

Royal Oak Hotel
527 Bridge Road
Richmond
Ph: 03 9428 4200

Walking along to work the other day, my jaw literally dropped when I saw this sign. $1 oysters for the whole month! I was so excited; one of my favourite foods for only a dollar at the local. Then I remembered that I was standing outside the Royal Oak, a TAB pub whose largest space is taken up by pokies and a sports area; a place I had never eaten at before and probably wouldn’t have tried if it weren’t for the oyster special.

Natural oysters, $1 each. Kilpatrick, $1.50 each.

A fresh, salty natural oyster normally overwhelms my palate with its refreshing brine and soft, smooth texture. A perfect oyster leaves me delaying eating anything else for as long as possible to savour that amazing taste. Last night, I left with a pleasant taste in my mouth, but that’s all it was; the oysters were just “nice”. The taste was more fishy than fresh and salty, and presentation could have been better; rather than the usual rock salt or ice, the oysters came out on a bed of browning iceberg lettuce.

I’ve often walked past this pub and looked in at the rows of elderly people sitting at the slot machines, and it seemed like little else was going on in there. Indeed, when J and I went, the only people in the bistro were ourselves and a family of four. “We have our nights”, said the waitress, especially when the footy’s on. For anyone who has spent an afternoon or evening at the MCG I can understand the appeal of this pub; cheap beer and the constantly changing specials, including steak nights and parma nights, make the Royal Oak seem like a good option for a quick, cheap feed. Service is surprisingly young and friendly, too.

These oysters are a bargain but they’re not worth crossing town for. If you’re a local, stick to the kilpatrick variety; the rich, tangy sauce and crispy bacon helps to distract from the mediocre quality of the oyster.

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