Bringing a little bit of Spain to beautiful Lynton & Lynmouth
We asked Mike and Yana what inspired them to start running The Oak Room?
Our restaurant building dates back to the 1890s. Over 10 years ago our place was called Sir George Newnes tea room. It was at this time that our very good friends Steve (from Devon) and his wife Irene (from Barcelona) purchased the place and ran it as a traditional restaurant. A few years later, inspired by their travels in Spain and Irene’s heritage, they turned it into a tapas bar and restaurant, creating a lovely Exmoor dining experience that quickly became one of the favourite places to eat both for locals and visitors.
I, Mike, had worked alongside my best friend Steve in restaurants before The Oak Room started. When Steve and Ren introduced the Spanish element in their new venture I joined their team shortly after and continued working alongside them for 8 happy years. I, Yana joined the Oak Room team as their manager in 2016. After 10 years of running The Oak Room, Steve and Ren decided it was time to move on and make Spain their new home.As we loved The Oak Room and everything it stands for, we wanted to carry on the history and the feel of the place and continue to maintain and improve what our good friends started so many years ago. So for us, it was the most logical move to take over The Oak Room and make it our own. As we have been working alongside Steve and Ren for quite a few years, there was always an inspiration to possibly one day have our own place, and with their help and guidance, that possibility became a reality.
What makes the Oak Room a special place to dine?
As I, Mike, have lived in Spain and Yana is originally from Bulgaria, we both have been exposed to a completely different dining experiences from the traditional three-course dining. In both countries, an evening meal is not only about having a tasty meal. It is also about having a good time with your company, enjoying your conversation and having a few laughs over a nice glass of wine or beer. Then you just have small plates of tasty food coming to the table to satisfy your taste buds as well.
“On a warm evening, you can sit in our small and cosy garden and feel like you could be anywhere in the Mediterranean. That’s exactly what we want our customers to experience when they choose to join us for lunch or dinner.”
What do you enjoy most about owning The Oak Room?
While being a physically and emotionally demanding venture at times, it is also a very rewarding one. Every day we meet people from different parts of the country and beyond. It is an amazing feeling that we get at the end of the night – the feeling of fulfilment because we have contributed to their night being a little bit more special, that we have made their holiday a little bit more enjoyable and maybe leaving a very good memory, and one more reason for them to come back to our beautiful towns for another visit. Our team at The Oak Room also come from different parts of England and Europe and as a result, we now have friends in Spain, Bulgaria and Argentina.
“It is really nice to share experiences, have a laugh together and brighten up each other’s day.”
What are your favourite things to do in Lynton & Lynmouth?
Lynton & Lynmouth are a beautiful part of the world that we are happy and proud to call our home. Anytime when we are driving home after a holiday away and we go up Station Hill, at the top of the hill we are greeted by the most fabulous view of the Valley of Rocks and the sea that reminds us why we chose to live here. And it is not only the views, but we also have a wonderful community of people who are always ready to help and support each other.
Quite often early in the morning on a nice day, you can see Yana on her morning run to the Valley of Rocks, taking in the lovely sea air. In the evening you can see Mike joining the music scene at the local open mic or jam nights. Or, we often enjoy a nice walk in the area as there are so many paths one can take. As we are both foodies, we love the local food fests. Also, although not as often as we would like, we love our local cinema.
And the best thing about our time off is that wherever we go in Lynton & Lynmouth we will end up in good company.