This week we paid a visit to The Yew Tree. Situated on Victoria Road in Walton-le-Dale, the website says that it offers “a great range of quality cask ales, world beers, premium spirits and wines, matched with a delicious selection of snacks, salads, classic pub favourites and pizzas – The Yew Tree has it all! You’d better leave space for our scrumptious desserts too!”Advertisement
It’s a pub that I’ve driven past hundreds of times without being tempted to visit, as I’ve never heard it rated highly. However, since its refurbishment there have been rumours that it’s upped its game.
When we turned up at 5pm on a Monday the restaurant was almost empty and we could choose where to sit, so as the premises were a tad chilly we chose a table next to a radiator. The restaurant has been decorated in typical gastro pub style: calm, neutral colours teamed with lots of warm wood and a billion spot lights, but it was beautifully done, and created a welcoming, cosy vibe.
Read more: The Yew Tree pub in Walton-le-Dale undergoing complete internal refurbishment
The extensive menu offers something for everyone, and there’s a separate gluten free menu. LED lights made it easy to read it but the cold, white bulbs blazing away took away a chunk of cosiness and lit up things that are better not noticed, like a few smears on the menus and everyone’s eye bags. Despite the menus needing a good wipe the rest of the restaurant was spotless and several waiters were still cleaning like teenagers don’t.
We ordered our food and before it arrived a waiter put some condiments on our table without being asked, which is always appreciated. I had a quick look at the tops of the sauce bottles as, along with menus, they are a good indication of an eatery’s level of cleanliness, and they were all reassuringly free of any jammy stuff.
My friend had ordered the smothered chicken for £13.95: “Butterflied chicken breast topped with bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce, with chips & dressed salad”. It looked appetising, although the perfectly good salad which came on the side of his plate was immediately transferred to the side of mine before it could infect him with a lethal dose of vitamins.
We’d asked for the bacon to be crispy, which it was, and the tender chicken was indeed smothered rather than drowned, which is still bad news for the chicken but preferable to an overload of barbecue sauce that eclipses the taste of the meat. They hadn’t been stingy with the chips, which were the frozen, catering type, but fine, nevertheless.
I ordered the cheese pie for £12.95: “Homemade shortcrust pie crammed full of diced potatoes, onion and cheddar cheese, served with chunky chips, fresh vegetables and gravy”.
Blowing a week’s calories on a cheese pie is always a gamble. They’re often a bland and soggy lump of sadness, but if there’s one on a menu I have to risk it in the hope that my search for the elusive, magnificently tangy slab of joy that is a cracking good cheese pie will one day be over.
This pie was golden brown and packed with cheese flavour, the chef having achieved the perfect ratio of cheese to onion and diced potato. They’d also nailed the surrounding pastry, which was thin and buttery with a good crumble to it.
It came with a mini pan full of rich gravy, which made the perfectly steamed carrots, broccoli and cauliflower a pleasure to eat. Fortunately the pie was tasty enough on its own, as I’m in the camp that believes adding gravy to anything cheesy is an unholy perversion that can only be dealt with by a good smiting.
We debated having a dessert, but decided against it as an apple and blackberry crumble was the only home-made item on the menu. Northerner or not, there’s only so much flour and butter that I can eat in one sitting.
All in all, our visit to The Yew Tree was a thoroughly enjoyable one. The staff were friendly and attentive, the venue was nicely refurbished and the food was excellent. The only real negative was the overly bright, cold white lighting that killed much of the cosiness and was quite hard on the eyes. Our experience would have been nicer with warmer, more intimate lighting and some candles on the tables.
The Yew Tree already gives the nearby, similar and ever-popular venue The Hunter’s a run for its money. A tweak to the lighting, homemade chips and desserts might push them even further. Until then, if you go in there and see a woman wearing sunglasses stuffing herself with cheese pie, come and say hello.
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Have you been blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night? Tell us about it in the comments when you’ve calmed down.