As the weather was so lovely, The Boyfriend and I decided to stroll around Portabello/Westbourne Park on Saturday night to find a table in one of the many restaurants. After being turned away from a few of our top choices, as well as pro-actively backing away from The Ledbury’s pricey menu, we settled on The Oak on Westbourne Park Road.
Seeing as we’d completely embraced the hot weather and were both wearing flip-flops, we were pleased by The Oak’s relaxed atmosphere and it wasn’t long before we were seated (they don’t take bookings, but if you have to wait, you can always have a drink at The Oak Upstairs).
The menu focused on their wood fired pizzas. Even though they looked delicious, I seem to have eaten a lot of pizza recently, especially in that part of town, so couldn’t be tempted. Instead, I opted for the seared tuna with wild rocket, grilled vegetables and salsa verde, which was beautifully presented, although my photo of a massive lemon probably doesn’t do it justice.
I was really pleased with my main course, which was perfectly fresh and light for a warm summer’s day (in October), without feeling like a measly portion (I was hungry after all). My only criticism would be the tuna, which was served rare. It’s not that I have a problem with the cooking time, it’s more that the salsa verde seemed to dominate the taste of the fish, which hadn’t had the chance to develop its flavour whilst in the pan.
The Boyfriend went for the pappardelle guinea fowl ragu, which clearly tasted very good from the rate at which he ate it. After eating a small mouthful I could understand the rush – the warm sweet sauce complimented the guinea fowl’s gamey flavour, which was cut into proper chunks, rather than pureed into a mushy mince.
As much as I would love to say we were healthy and just had main courses, our hour long walk before the meal made us hungry enough to be persuaded to share a starter of Burrata di Puglia with prosciutto di Parma, brushetta, fresh basil and olive oil. Although this combination traditionally comes with plain Mozzarella, the creamy Burrata de Puglia tasted wonderful, resembling a melting piece of vanilla ice cream and living up to its name ‘buttered’ (don’t most things taste better with a bit of butter in them?).
Overall, I was impressed by The Oak and am glad we stumbled across it. It wasn’t just the food, the staff were incredibly welcoming and attentive, without being ‘in your face’. I’m excited to read that The Oak has now opened a sister restaurant in Hampstead called The Old White Bear. I’m always looking for an excuse to go for a walk on Hampstead Heath, so I’ll make sure I check it out soon.
The Oak, 137 Westbourne Park Road, Westbourne Grove, London W2 5QL