Situated in picturesque Olney, The Cherry Tree is named after the annual Olney Cherry Fair which takes place every summer.
It is reminiscent of the historical harvest, when the town previously produced a commercial cherry crop from former orchards within the area, a tradition dating back from the early 14th century.
Fast forward several centuries and the current incarnation of The Cherry Tree is housed in a beautiful Grade II listed building, sympathetically restored, providing a sophisticated setting for enjoying time with family, friends or a working lunch.
We were impressed with the elegant exterior of the building and equally wowed with the interior. The Cherry Tree showcases an eclectic mix of features celebrating the building’s rich heritage, which is complemented by modern touches throughout. Antiques reside alongside cherry tree–themed works of art, sourced locally, according to the restaurant’s website.
Many of the original Victorian and Georgian features, including cornice plaster work, sash windows, parquet flooring and fireplaces have been renovated to sit seamlessly with more contemporary design features.
We dined in the main restaurant area, which was flooded with natural light, was spacious and accompanied with a vibrant ambiance. Wherever you are seated you can see the chefs making their next culinary creation, which adds to the dining experience. Additional areas lead off from the restaurant space offering more intimate dining options and from our table we could view the outdoor areas which would be perfect for alfresco dining on warmer days.
The menu was expansive and, alongside the daily specials menu, offered an array of delicious sounding dining options, appealing to all appetites and tastes.
As a vegetarian it was refreshing to see there were plentiful vegetarian and vegan options, alongside dishes catering for a variety of dietary requirements.
We called to book, there’s also an online booking system, and the member of staff was incredibly helpful answering questions regarding parking, there is no on-site parking but free street parking is available nearby.
Having explored the menus available, we opted to go for a sharing starter from the daily specials menu, the honey baked Camembert served with a selection of breads, red onion marmalade and rocket.
While awaiting our starter we perused the equally expansive drinks menu offering an extensive range of hot and cold drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
As designated driver I opted for a tipple from the virgin cocktails options, the FreeGlider Basil Smash consisting of Sipsmith FreeGlider, lemon juice, sugar syrup and basil – it was sublime and refreshing.
My culinary companion went for the Passiontini a mix of Absolut vanilla vodka, Passoa, passionfruit purée, lime, vanilla syrup, served with a shot of prosecco. It was incredible.
It’s worth noting our sublime sharing starter took a little longer to arrive, but it was well worth the wait.
This cheese heaven on a plate consisted of a baked Camembert and the additional honey was a flavour combination that worked perfectly.
It was exquisite and we both delighted in indulging in the honey dripping, oozing warm cheese, which we scooped up on the fantastic selection of breads provided. It was simply comfort cuisine at its best.
The only blip of our overall positive experience came with our main courses. I selected the fabulously flavoursome mushroom and vegan mozzarella burger (I opted to swap the vegan cheese to halloumi for a small supplement charge).
This substantial burger includes mushroom, rocket and basil pesto, red pepper and garlic hummus, dill pickle, gem lettuce and tomato and is served with French fries. Everything was flavoursome and satisfying, the halloumi switch was great and it was cooked perfectly, my only gripe was the bun, which was too chewy and too overdone.
My dining partner selected her dish from the coal-fire grill opting for the 10oz 28-day aged rump served with chunky chips, dressed rocket, garlic and basil marinated Marzanino tomatoes, adding a Béarnaise sauce on the side. The latter of which was silky smooth and creamy.
However, having requested the steak be cooked medium to well done (with no blood) that’s where our issues started. The initial plate of food looked appetising, however once cutting into the steak it was clear some parts were cooked as requested and others weren’t.
The waitress, who was wonderful throughout our visit, asked if we wanted another steak cooking, we said this wouldn’t be necessary.
The steak situation meant we didn’t eat our mains at the same time and, after a wait, the steak returned and ended up being chewy in consistency and not very enjoyable. We were asked for feedback on our mains, as I left most of my burger bun and my fellow diner had eaten some of their steak but not all.
We shared our feedback and requested the bill only to discover they decided to deduct a significant amount from the overall total, despite us not having requested any deductions.
Which reiterates this esteemed establishment offers an admirable standard of food and drink options in an elegant setting, with a fantastic team delivering great service.
This visit was booked anonymously and the food and drink was paid for by the writer.
To make your reservation, visit www.thecherrytreeolney.co.uk