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IT was like stepping back in time. All of a sudden, I was 17 again, sneaking into the pub near to school and attempting to get served.

I was even there with my oldest school friend, Lindsay.

We sat and reminisced about old times, about how then our biggest worries were whether x fancied y and whether we were going to get away with copying each other's maths homework.

Fifteen, ahem, years later, nothing much has changed at The Royal Oak. It's still a friendly, cosy place to meet friends.

We spent time catching up over a drink before ordering our meals, and we weren't made to feel in the least bit hurried.

The menu took me back as well, with comfort food I grew up with, such as chicken Kiev, surf and turf and chicken pie on offer.

I opted for slow-cooked lamb shank (pounds 9.75) which was one of the 'Chef Recommends' dishes.

It was served in a lovely pasta bowl, full of creamy mash, peas, green beans and luscious rosemary, and tomato gravy.

Lindsay was impressed by the vegetarian options available on the menu, including sweet red pepper and goat's cheese salad and cauliflower and spinach cheese bake.

She chose the vegetable strudel (pounds 6.25) which, again, was served with plenty of vegetables.

Parsnip, sweet potato and chestnuts were wrapped in pastry and cooked in a port wine sauce, served with crushed herby potatoes and onion gravy. It looked delicious and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

The meals were served swiftly and were huge platefuls of food.

Between noon to 5pm, from Monday to Saturday, you can buy one meal from just pounds 6.50 and get another for pounds 1. Our bill, including soft drinks, came to just under pounds 20.

ZOE CHAMBERLAIN Royal Oak, Manor Lane, Halesowen (0121 421 5371).
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2012
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