Neutral Bay's Oaks Hotel has been a reliable haunt for generations. Many a warm afternoon has been spent in the shade of the majestic 70-year-old oak tree that sits in the middle of the pub's sprawling beer garden. Following an extensive renovation, the Oaks is back on the radar, thanks to the addition of its new garden pavilion and an overhaul of its bistro.
Housed in what was formerly a garage, the garden pavilion is tucked away, off the beer garden. And it's dazzlingly pretty. Greenery is suspended from the ceiling, windows look out on yet more unruly ferns, and many of the remaining surfaces and walls are crammed with plants that look like they were watered minutes ago. A set of cane lounges hug one wall, and white chairs and timber tables cover the rest of the space. The bar area provides a contrast with its splash of aqua tiles, dark wooden shelves and elegant bar stools.
As part of the renovations, the pub's bistro has also been upgraded. It now sports rich tones, lots of dark wood, sandstone walls and an impressive display wine cellar. There's an in-house butcher, who operates out of the pub's 'meatatorium', the prized cut from which is the dry-aged rib eye on the bone served with roasted bone marrow, roasted potatoes and green beans. Also available is a rollcall of pub-grub staples such as fish and chips, pizza, pies, schnitzels and whopping burgers.
The drinks list has also been rethought. Mass brewers are out and beer now comes courtesy of small Australian craft concerns such as Lord Nelson, White Rabbit, Two Birds and 4 Pines. The wine list is equally considered, focused mainly on local drops. The beer garden may still be the Oaks’ trump card, but now there are other reasons to pay a visit.
Oaks Hotel 118 Military Road, Neutral Bay (02) 9953 5515
Hours Mon to Wed 10am–midnight Thu to Sat 10am–1:30am Sun noon–midnight