Mal Morris decided to take time out of his schedule to visit the idyllic Yew Tree restaurant
There’s no sign which says ‘Under New Management’ but we know that to be the case at the idyllically located Yew Tree restaurant.
We are walking hungrily past the lovely beer garden – beautifully kept lawn and spaciously placed tables with a hint of Winter Hill over the Rivington wooodland in the background – but there will be no al fresco pre-dinner glass of Creme de Cassis and Muscadet tonight while watching the blood red orange in the sky begin its descent behind Chorley. It’s tippling it down, and we are scuttling along under umbrellas.
The precipitation has helped scatter blossoms from the cherry tree across the car park like natural confetti, so it’s not all bad.
Exterior-wise, a new rich buttermilk colour theme has been selected for the frontage, also the interior plus white wooden panelling. Possibly the fireplace has had a makeover too and is in action, although not with any of the many logs which are stacked up at various points in the restaurant, instead it looks like good honest coal.
The flagstones from the old pub which this place used to be way back remain, and are irreplaceable.
The chef, on inquiry, remains in situ too, and after being served with drinks super-efficiently and relishing the general ambiance awhile and trying not to eavesdrop on a German couple tucking into healthy looking bar meals featuring English chips nearby, we attend our eating station.
It’s to be goat’s cheese, jumbo king prawns with clams, sea food platter, rack of lamb, sticky toffee pudding and crème brulee ... to put it in a nutshell. To aide digestion we select from the small but nicely judged wine menu a £14 bottle of Merlot which rewards us plentifold, and good honest tap water which arrives in a chilled and therefore misty bottle with one of those stoppers with metal clips in the top.
I love the variety of plate shapes and sizes being used in restaurants these days, and so an early good sign is my four prawns and three clams with salad and warmed bread arranged length-wise on a narrow and white oval.
The prawns, though hardly jumbo, are good but the clams have been overcooked and are so dry and shrivelled they are a struggle to scrape out of their shells.
The goat’s cheese and sundried tomato tarts contain too small an amount of the cheese, I’m informed, but the pastry is lovely in three crisp bases.
At £19 my rack of lamb will make or break my evening. It’s delicious.
Three pinkish separated chops resting on pea puree flavoured mash in a decadently rich and fruity jus, and with a lovely mix of slightly charred carrots, cabbage and onions.
The sea food platter proves a slightly contentious event. From my viewpoint across the table it looks slightly under-whelming, but entirely satisfies the one who matters, the consumer. The seafood element comprises four non-jumbo king prawns a la my starter, two small fillets of mackerel, three pieces of battered haddock and a small number of shrimps in butter.
There are four radishes in a sauce, two separate containers one of a spicy sauce and one possibly tartare, warmed bread and a few slightly limp salad leaves, sans dressing, at one end of a wooden plate cut cross-section from a tree trunk.
More encouraging noises issue from over there after a good sticky toffee pudding with flavour, moisture, a nice sauce and a dollop of ice cream.
My crème brulee with fruit coulis, however, proves to be disappointing.
It’s nicely crunchy on top, but coming in at £5.50 there’s far too little top at less than two inches in diameter. The fruit coulis element was also something of a mystery.
So, a mixed evening for £73.
It’s a lovely setting outside and inside, and the service was excellent. Some food was excellent, some a little disappointing.
More imagination, especially with the salads, would perk up presentation with some courses.