M1, Junction 24; 8 minutes
Free WiFi for visitors
Vegetarian or vegan options
Parking available onsite
Slip into the Royal Oak and you’ll be greeted by a cosy village pub of tartan carpets, high-backed booths, mismatched chairs, inglenook fireplace and locals sipping ale at the bar. It’s a gastropub with 12 bedrooms (in beautifully renovated outbuildings at the back with a cottagey feel) run by brothers Chris and Alex, but you’d be every bit as comfortable popping in for a coffee and a breather as you would for one of their coveted meals.
Service is excellent and portions generous. Start with a sharing platter for a mouthful of all the flavours: pumpkin, feta and pine nut filo parcels, chorizo in tomato sauce, soup shots, and spiced sweet potato wedges. Mains include pub classics, such as fish and chips and juicy burgers, as well as more inventive, seasonal dishes. You’re in luck if you’re passing on a Sunday as roasts are served at lunchtime followed by their renowned pies in the evening. Save space, if you can, for the chocolate mousse with chantilly cream and chocolate brioche croutons.