Sevenoaks, The Royal Oak Hotel and Loch Fyne
We set off for Sevenoaks late in the day, confident that it would be easy to find both Seven Oaks and a room for the night; we were wrong on both counts.
Even after several trips to the UK, I am stymied by British road maps so I was not only no help in finding Sevenoaks, I added to the problem. We pulled into the city after dark and set about looking for lodging and after a couple of circuits of the city landed at The Royal Oak Hotel.
Luckily for us it had a nice small room at the top of a couple of staircases and at the top of of our agreed upon budget. (We rarely spend a large percentage of our travel dollar on where we stay, preferring to spend it on what we do.)
Immediately after putting our luggage in our room, we headed out for food as we were mightily hungry. We must not have been starving, however, as we passed several places that offered perfectly good food. As a child I was taught that the difference between hungry and starving is when you’re hungry, there are things you will turn down; whereas when you’re starving you will eat anything, even pig’s knuckles.
The weather was cool and most businesses had shut their doors for the evening. We wandered the streets, turning this way and that, passed several restaurants that had that feel of a “local” – a term I learned only upon visiting England but the meaning of which seems to apply to many of the single owner establishments to be found all over: from the southern United States and Texas which I called home in my youth, to Los Angeles the home of my middle-age.
After about half an hour we chose a type of restaurant we seldom select: one of a chain (although admittedly it’s not immediately obvious that LF is more than just a single mid-scale eatery), Loch Fyne.
To be honest, I can’t remember what it was we ate. I do remember though that the food, the atmosphere and the price were all so good that the following evening (once again hungry but not starving) we made our way back for dinner.
We tarried over our meal both nights because – maybe just by luck, maybe because the location was so near a London train station – the restaurant was filled with interesting folks whose back stories I had no problem filling in for my companion: the two elderly men who I was sure must come there once a week; the father and son sharing a beer; the well-to-do family speaking three languages in a variety of accents who I knew must be leaving their son at a nearby private school; the high powered couple in well cut business clothes eating their meal and speaking to one another between looks at their Blackberries.
What more could one ask – except scrumpy – of a meal? Good food, good prices and surrounded by interesting stories, we looked forward to more of the same the following morning in London.