As stated by their website, The Loyal Oarsman (find their website here) is a "traditional style English Pub [and] offers a warm atmosphere and hearty menu complete with Traditional English pub fare, to more conventional North American food. Offering 20 beers on tap we have one of the largest ranges of beers in Kingston to choose from along with our award winning Chicken Wings". Now, I don't know about you - but whether a regular or a visitor to our group, in most cases if you can offer good food (especially wings) and beer, you're set... so based on the description alone, we figured the Oarsman would do well with their score.
The atmosphere of the pub is definitely in keeping with what one would imagine is English Pub style. (Although, I can only assume this since I haven't ever been to England... but I have seen it in movies... and I also watch Coronation Street... so... that has to be accurate, right?... Right?...). It was pretty busy (which, for the record, I understand is the trend) so it was difficult to get pictures without a lot of people; but imagine if you will - tables, chairs and a long bar made of dark wood. A number of booths for more private dining, and raised seating on one side as well as seating in a back room. There are 2 large flat screen televisions as well as a projector and screen that attract sports fans on a regular basis. The front windows are frosted (just like Rover's Pub!!) and there is even a Red Telephone Booth (oh yeah - that deserved to be capitalized!) by the front door. Overall, it's a cozy spot - and while the service is definitely good enough to make it happen, I don't think I've ever rushed in and out. Quite frankly, I've never wanted to.
What did we order while in England? I mean... at the Oarsman? Here's the run-down:
Carrie: While I would have typically ordered deep fried pickles to start, it was really hard to do that now that I've been to the Pilot House and got so many for so low cost... that said, if I was just in for drinks and appy's, I certainly wouldn't be able to resist them. Instead, on this visit, I had a caesar salad to start, and then I ordered something I've never had before: the stuffed and baked focaccia - your choice of chicken or steak (I chose chicken) topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms and mozzarella served with sweet potato fries.
Tonia: Mozzarella sticks to start (cheese in a golden crust with tomato sauce for dipping), and the Pub Wrap - chicken, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo wrapped in a flour tortilla served with sweet potato fries.
Todd: Deep fried pickles to start and the Chicken Greek Wrap - chicken breast sliced julienne style with Greek salad mix, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla, served with fries.
Leslie: Tortilla Flutes (these are an old menu item that do not exist on the menu anymore - but Leslie is a regular and knows the staff, so she requested them and they obliged. Basically, I think that they are kind of like a chicken quesadilla wrapped up with some kind of special sauce... but with no description to follow, I can't be sure), and a Greek salad.
Drinks and food came quickly. Our server was attentive - which was pretty impressive given how busy it was - and we had a great time in a cozy booth enjoying some drinks, laughs and good food. Just how good? Well, lemme tell ya!
Carrie: 3 forks. This was a shock even to me... If I had stuck with my "usuals", I know I would have given a bigger score for sure... But, I decided to branch out and wasn't really all that happy with my sandwich. Since it said that it was a baked and stuffed focaccia, I imagined just that - a bread that was stuffed and then baked... I thought "tender chicken with ooey gooey cheese and tomato sauce". Sadly, it was a focaccia bun that was cut and then chicken and mushrooms and cheese were inside. Sure - it was full, and the cheese was melted... but there just wasn't much of it. All in all, the sandwich was dry. The saving grace was that I asked for a side of extra marinara sauce to dip each bite in, and that made all the difference. I thought of our friend Kendra as I dipped my sweet potato fries into the garlic-based mayo stuff provided (she loves dips!) and was impressed with each bite. The caesar salad was great.
Tonia: 4 forks. Tonia said that the mozzarella sticks were good - there could have been fewer if they were bigger, but she wasn't going to complain. She quite enjoyed the pub wrap and she thought the fries were good, although she couldn't decide if she just doesn't like sweet potato fries as much as regular fries since fries are "so dang good" and she ultimately would have preferred having regular fries on this visit.
Todd: 4 forks. Somehow, Todd got the Caesar Wrap by a mistake (even as the server put it down, she said "Greek Wrap", but it was obvious just by looking at it that it wasn't correct), but Todd decided to eat it anyway because he knew he would probably like it too. Based on his score - he obviously did, but it was inconvenient. The server did a fairly good job of rectifying the issue by speaking with a manager and getting Todd's bill adjusted, too. Todd didn't have any comment other than "Even though it wasn't the meal I anticipated, I still ate it".
Leslie: 4.5 forks. Leslie liked the salad - there were lots of veggies and feta, and she loves feta. She didn't have anything to say about the flutes since they were exactly what she expected and she eats them whenever she comes. (Sorry for the readers of the blog since they aren't even on the menu... but I did try them and would suggest people asking for them if they happen to be curious). All in all, Leslie was quite happy with her meal.
Overall score: 3.88 forks. I truly believe that the score would have been higher had it not been for my sandwich, but all things on the menu are fair-game, so to speak... And so, I must be honest. Ultimately, though, the message is simple: go to the Loyal Oarsman. Even if you are a downtown person who "already has a favourite pub". It's definitely worth the drive.
And Samer - we need to go back for you. I have a feeling you'd love the wings!
Our next stop: Royal Angkor! This will be stop #30!!! I can't believe it...