The ‘tucked away’ coastal pub near Bristol with a wallet-friendly menu, good drink and a fiery food contest

The pub’s annual curry competition takes place next week

Anybody thinking of entering the curry competition at the Royal Oak next week will need to keep an eye on Belinda.

The ‘Calcutta’ curry competition on February 4 is an annual event at this Clevedon pub and the judging takes place at half-time during the England v Scotland game in the Six Nations.

Apparently it attracts between 20 and 30 entrants some years and, according to the barmaid pulling my pint, local resident Belinda is always the hot favourite in this fiery food contest.

Set back away from the seafront, the main entrance of the Royal Oak is on Copse Road but there’s also rear access via an alley that leads to Beach Road.

Food is only served lunchtimes (Tuesday to Sunday) and the wallet-friendly menu includes sandwiches, baguettes, nachos, burgers, ploughman’s, jacket potatoes and local faggots with mash and onion gravy.

There’s also a range of breakfast baps priced according to how many items are sandwiched between the sliced rolls. The most expensive is the sausage, egg and bacon bap at £6 - I’m sure these will be flying out during the Six Nations.

As well as televised sport, the pub has its own Royal Oak Cricket Club and team photos adorn the walls, alongside old pictures of ships and huge waves crashing into Clevedon promenade.

The nautical ‘splice the main b theme extends to a noticeboard called the ‘Ship’s log’, a plaque for the RNLI and a flag for the Royal Oak Yacht Squadron.

The cosy interior of the Royal Oak
The cosy interior of the Royal Oak
The cosy interior of the Royal Oak

I grabbed a table next to the woodburner in the front bar. A blackboard above me advertised the February 14 cheese and wine night, a romantic Valentine’s Day deal costing £30 for a cheeseboard and bottle of wine for two.

As well as the curry competition and the cheese and wine night, the pub has plenty of other regular events. There’s a quiz every Monday, open mic nights on the last Wednesday of the month and a meat draw every Sunday.

Although Thatchers and Aspall ciders are on tap, as well as several premium lagers and Guinness, it’s the range of real ales that stands out.

The front bar of the Royal Oak is heated by a woodburner
The front bar of the Royal Oak is heated by a woodburner
The front bar of the Royal Oak is heated by a woodburner

There are five shiny pumps dispensing Sharp’s Atlantic Pale Ale, Fuller’s London Pride, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Butcombe Original and Sharp’s Doom Bar.

I settled for the Cornish-brewed Atlantic Pale Ale, which was clear, golden and in great condition. It was a tip top-pint.

Inside this Georgian-built mid-terrace pub, it’s deceptively spacious with a main front bar and a larger lower deck. Although there are plenty of tourist-friendly pubs in Clevedon and some with sea views, the tucked away Royal Oak seems to be the one favoured by the locals.

And how lucky they are because it’s the sort of friendly, well run local pub we all deserve to have on our doorstep.

Royal Oak, 35 Copse Road, Clevedon, BS21 7QN.