A Warm Welcome. This is my first thought when I think back to last week’s lunch and the reason I would recommend The Yew Tree. I’d had a bit of a rubbish weekend until this point and arrived at The Yew Tree for Sunday lunch with a strapped up knee and having just waiting in a tea room for fifty minutes for tea that never came. Luckily the cosy atmosphere and unhurried nature of the area, staff and customers made me feel at home. After hearing my tea story they got David and I sat down with our cup of Earl Grey, at last, and allowed us to peruse the menu and relax until we were ready to sit at our table.
Full of locals as well as international visitors. The former perking up with a Bloody Mary and the latter experiencing their first taste of Black Pudding.
Our table was beautifully positioned in a sunny corner, for such an old building they have made fantastic use of the space and light. David and I are both tall and there a few ‘mind your head’ moments but I didn’t feel like I spent the whole time stooped. As well as resturant tables there is plenty of the room for perching at the bar (as we did) to admire their glass vats of Sipsmith gin and a snug area too with sofas.
In my opinion the menu is the perfect length. Menus are your first impression of the side of a resturant you can’t see and give you some powerful insight. Too long and I wonder how they prep and store all that fresh food, or if it’s all microwaved. Too short and some times my picky side gets the better of me. At The Yew Tree the menu was laid out in a different way from your traditional gastro pub but had all the favourites you’d expect and some fresher options too. Having recently been to The Hand and Flowers, The Yew Tree had a lot to live up to. You can pick from nibbles, small dishes, medium, large and ‘The Usual Suspects’ e.g. fish and chips, caesar salad.
The decoration is lovely and if I had a home of this age, I would go with similar deco. That being said there are some quirky touches that take it beyond home style, pillars finished off with piles of books and the odd stuffed squirrel peaking out around a corner, The Yew Tree has character, as do the staff who are allowed to let this shine through.
Waiting at our table was warm bread and salted butter, a simple pleasure, but one I adore. I’m pleased to say that when we finished we were bought extra, perfect for mopping up gravy later on.
We shared the black pudding scotch egg to start, we weren’t all that hungry but I love black pudding and I couldn’t let this one stay on the menu, the soft black pudding had the right amount of texture and the egg had been caught at just the right time to give it that bit of ooze. Accompanied by a light dressed salad, what could have been a heavy dish was a great start to the meal. I even heard the waitress patiently explaining to our neighbours that despite being called a pudding they hadn’t mistakenly put a dessert on the starter menu.
Next up David went for the Sunday classic of Roast Pork Belly and I immediately had plate envy, look at the crackling on that! I was pleased to see some less full on choices on the menu and went for the Sea Bream with cous cous. It initally looked like a small portion in comparison to David’s mound of deliciousness but it was filling and felt wholesome. I really enjoyed the vibrant colours and flavours. Image below.
I love pudding so I got the staff to give me a sneak peek at the dessert menu before I ordered and one caught my eye straight away. The menu is laid out like the main with smaller or lighter dishes at the top and the more traditional at the bottom. Normally I would have gone straight for the sticky toffee at the bottom, but Millionaire’s Shortbread is one of my favourites and I was over joyed when it came, perfect proportions, a good decent size, add an espresso and you have the perfect end to a meal. Despite having one the sweetest tooths going (don’t leave haribo near him) David likes a pallet cleansing pudding and his sorbet and jelly concoction did just that.
We arrived quite early for Sunday lunch at 12:30 and the restaurant was quiet when we arrived, we were greeted and mainly served by the lovely assistant manager. All the staffed we interacted with were a joy and happy to answer any questions we had, even those about the building. We were served efficiently without being hurried and I can’t really say anything to fault the service.
The Bottom Line
The Yew Tree is the perfect place to stop off on an adventure out of the city. There’s loads of things to see and do around Newbury and it’s close to the motorway for easy access to London or an onward journey.
I’d be inclined to use it as a meeting point with friends who live out along the M4 I can see us spending hours on a Sunday afternoon with a bottle of wine, the layout means it would be perfect if you had a medium sized group, you could have an area all to yourselves.
Be warned if you plan to visit Highclere castle whilst you are in the area, book Highclere first and then the restaurant or do as we did and explore some of the Ridgeway Trail and see one of the area’s white horses.
We were invited to the Yew Tree but to give you an idea, here are the prices for what we had.
- Black pudding and Beechwood Farm Scotch egg £6.95
- Roast West End Farm pork belly, black pudding hash, baked apple, roasting jus £14.95
- Fish, Couscous
- Millionaire’s Short Bread £3.95
- Jelly and Sorbet 7.95
Food: 8 marks out of 10
Atmosphere: 9 marks out of 10
Service: 9 marks out of 10
TOTAL: 27/ 30
I feel a little bad marking the food 8/10 it was good, but the charm of The Yew Tree really is in the atmosphere and service.
Where is your favourite place for Sunday lunch?