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Lower North Shore Institution The Oaks Is Now Home to Leafy Garden Bar Alala's

The last piece of Neutral Bay pub's multimillion-dollar renovation makes a stunning feature of the pub's 80-year-old namesake tree.
By Libby Curran
December 10, 2019
By Libby Curran
December 10, 2019

After almost a year of redevelopment and upgrades, The Oaks is finished. After opening its new pop culture-heavy sports bar Taffy's back in September, the historic Neutral Bay site has just revealed the final stage of its multimillion-dollar makeover — and it's a pretty important piece of the puzzle. This week, the venue has opened the doors to a cellar door and bottle shop, a takeaway kitchen and garden conservatory bar Alala's. Together, the changes mark the biggest redevelopment in The pub's 133-year history.

Named after Alala Thomas — matriarch of the pub's third-generation family owners — bar and eatery Alala's takes its cues from a French country cottage. Taking pride of place in the venue is a cast iron oven is turning out roasted meats, vegetables and hot breads. The space is a surprisingly elegant addition to the well-worn watering hole, featuring natural light aplenty, walls of art and a bar pouring cocktails such as the white negroni with gin, Suze (a French liqueur made from gentian root) and Lillet.

Seats spill out onto a new back terrace, where you can pull up a leafy spot under the famed 80-year-old oak tree. This has more of a cafe feel — you can kick back with coffee and fresh pastries from 10am each morning — and has its own entrance from Ben Boyd Road.

A nod to contemporary picnic fare, the food lineup features a range of tartines — a fancy way of saying open sandwiches — starring toppings like blue mackerel with chermoula and fresh figs with honey and goat's cheese. Fresh scallops are served on the shell with finger lime, chorizo spice and lobster oil, while rotisserie cauliflower comes sided with pumpkin hummus, mojo verde and ras el hanout.

Head down the hallway and you'll find the new Oaks Bottle Shop, complete with communal tasting table where you can sample drops fresh from the taps, before you decide what you're taking home.

Meanwhile, a new rotisserie has appetites sorted with a range of hot roast rolls on offer till 1am — including the pork belly porchetta with salsa verde and the spiced cauliflower and pumpkin hummus number. Much like The Paddington's offering on Oxford Street, there's a selection of grab and go dinner options, like a whole rotisserie chook and crunchy rosemary potatoes.

The pub's upper levels scored their own makeover back in 2016, reimagined as The Oaks Upstairs.

Alala's, Taffy's and The Oaks Bottle Shop and Takeaway are now open at The Oaks, 118 Military Road, Neutral Bay.

Images: Madeleine Ryan, Papaya.

Published on December 10, 2019 by Libby Curran
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