Burgers seemed to be the vogue of 2012, with every pub putting out the 'best burgers' sign, and gourmet burgers even venturing outside of London.
With all this choice comes the need to differentiatie. Experiment. Try creating a signature burger as a break from the norm. If memory serves me correctly, The Royal Oak offered up a pork and chorizo burger alongside the traditional plain. I opted for the latter and perched on the only remaining seat in what is a surprisingly large maze-like pub, just north of Oxford City Centre.
It's hard to imagine how a pub could fail in this area. The academic audience on the doorstep, although quiet in the summer, is large, thirsty, and growing. Wooden floors, lots of seats, ale on taps, and giant Jenga. Done. I've never seen the place quite so full as it was on this particular visit though.
The burger arrived aside a pint of Doom Bar (4.0%) from a chatty waitress (bar staff? server?) and informed me that this was an excellent choice, freshly made today. I like the enthusiasm, but for the price I would expect fresh. What I disliked with this, as with all burgers, was the size. The sheer bulk of meat soaks the bread and ruins the taste - for heat to penetrate the centre, the poor thing is left bone-dry at the edge. And you can't even fit it in your mouth.
I'm sure many will disagree. Meat is king. But I like my food to be balanced. The right amount of meat for the right amount of bread. My advice...concentrate on the classic before taking on the signature.
Anyway, a good pint and good chips couldn't be sniffed at. And as it was about 10.00pm I did finish the lot.