Characterful dining in the historic town of Olney
The Cherry Tree, one of the must-visit restaurants in the old market town of Olney, had been on my radar for a while. After dining out in the other two nearby Oakman Inn properties, The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove and The Betsey Wynn in Swanbourne which we truly enjoyed, we just had to check out what The Cherry Tree had on offer.
At the end of October, with Lockdown 2.0 looming on the horizon, we decided to treat ourselves to brunch on a drizzly Saturday.
Housed in a stunning Grade II listed property, overlooking the market square, The Cherry Tree is named after the Olney Cherry Fair that takes place each summer in June and dates back to a time when the town produced a large, annual, commercial cherry crop from the vast orchards that surrounded the area, from the early 14th century onwards.
Many of the old Victorian and Georgian features, such as corniching, plaster work, sash windows, parquet flooring and fire places, have been painstakingly renovated and reinstated to integrate and yet contrast with the inspirational contemporary design. The space created is subtly interspersed with antiques and cherry tree-themed works of art sourced locally, including 1930s oil paintings and original 1920s Tiffany wall lights in the lobby.
With plenty of room in the spacious interior, it wasn’t too much of a challenge to abide by Covid-19 safety measure. There was more than the obligatory two feet between the mid-morning diners spread around the dog-friendly bar area and further down inside the cavernous back room. Here, you can watch the chefs hard at work grilling and roasting over the Josper charcoal ovens and grills.
Breakfast is served until 11:00 after which you can still enjoy brunch or lunch till early evening.
If you know us, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that both Mr O and I opted for the usual: full English washed down with mochas. The Cherry Tree offers Artisan coffee brewed with Rainforest Alliance certified beans from estates in Colombia and Brazil.
The full English was a delight with generous portions of two British pork sausages, grilled portobello mushroom, grilled tomato, two pieces of grilled smoked bacon, poached free-range eggs, baked beans, hash brown. They had run out of brown toast but we were enjoying the food and the ambiance so much, it wasn’t a big deal.
As for lunch, the menu offers a wide range of Mediterranean inspired, freshly cooked dishes as well as hand-crafted authentic Italian Pizzas in a beautiful copper-clad, wood-fired pizza oven. A good enough excuse, if you ask me, to revisit for lunch or dinner as soon as we can.
Dinner is served after 5:00pm and there is something for everyone on the Mediterranean inspired menu from light nibbles and salad to pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas to grills and burgers. If you have a sweet tooth and room for dessert, The Cherry Tree offers wide range of desserts.
While The Cherry Tree is dog-friendly and it was evident that the staff truly enjoyed dogs, especially one who’d moved from The Anchor in Aspley Guise that’s failed to live up to its dog-friendly cosiness since her departure, we did have to ask for a water bowl for Doodles, and there were no doggy biccies on offer for her.
There is definitely room for improvement on that front – not that Doodles or her distant poodle-cross cousin Cocoa the Cockapoo we got to meet were complaining. They were just happy being their doggy selves begging for scraps and dribbling on the floors.
Overall, a brilliant breakfast experience, and a venue to come back to once the lockdown measures ease to check out lunch or dinner options.