Tighes Hill corner pub gets refreshed
Is it every man’s dream to own a pub?
Well, for these two blokes, their dream has become a bit of a reality, as they take on this old-school corner pub in Tighes Hill and make it their own.
Introducing The Oak.
Well-known hospitality character, Andrew Dunne (Dunny) from The Lass O’Gowrie, Las Salsa Picante, and Masa Madre, has joined forces once more with the man behind the two venues’ food creations, Josh Nicholson, bringing a new flair to this ‘country-style’ pub.
The Royal Oak may just be one of the only still-standing old-school Newcastle pubs that has been serving the local community over the years. So much so of an old-school pub that most passers-by, including Josh, thought the venue was no longer open.
“So many people thought it had been closed for years, and so did I before we got the keys. It’s a time capsule of memorabilia,” Josh said.
The story as to how the boys landed the lease on the corner pub is one worth hearing directly from Dunny over a beer or two, but just know that it very well could have been a fresh and tasty, egg and lettuce sandwich from Little Figs in Carrington that got the deal across the line.
With the agreement in place, it was a no-brainer for Dunny to enlist the help of Josh once again, with the duo keen to inject a little more life into this Tighes Hill spot.
“I was in straight away. I had always wanted to run a pub. I actually ran a backpacker’s pub when I was 19 in Melbourne. I don’t know who gives keys to a pub to a 19-year-old but I loved it. I also did my chef’s apprenticeship at a big old country pub that was kind of similar to this, so walking in here was like I had done it all before.”
The venue has undergone some minor renovations, Dunny likes to say they’ve focused more on restoring the space than renovation. A quick tour around the space and I’d have to say I tend to agree.
It still oozes that charm that old country pubs are known for, but just a tad more scrubbed up.
“We stripped back that front bar to showcase what was there. We pulled back the carpet and found these amazing floorboards. Our biggest thing that we have said from the beginning, was that we wanted to make it a place we wanted to hang out in ourselves. I think we’ve achieved that.”
The food also reflects the overarching philosophy both Dunny and Josh have for the venue – it is pub food, but tidy.
You’ve got your typical pub dishes like The Oak Cheeseburger, Chicken Schnitzel, 200g Grainfed Rump, and Market Fish, but you’ve also got plenty of wine bar snacks like oysters, tinned fish, and steak tartare.
The Oak’s kitchen is headed by Max Crawford and the venue’s wine list has been curated by Florence and Josh at Hamilton’s Vera Wine.
“I think a lot of the Tighes Hill residents have been crying out for a long time for a local they can get good food and good wine,” Dunny said.
Additionally, the venue is hosting live music gigs in the main bar every Saturday night, with plans to extend this into the new year with live music on Friday and Saturday nights inside and live acoustic in the beer garden on Sunday afternoons.
“Sundays will be our big day here in the new year. We’ll be pushing a $49 two-course Sunday lunch. That with the music in the beer garden will be such a good Sunday vibe,” Josh said.
The Oak still definitely holds its unique charm, but now has a fresh approach, a tidier front bar, and a rotating selection of entertainment that will continue to be a hub for the locals and encourage new local residents to try out the refreshed watering hole.