It is well documented that I like to be 'in and out' when dining out with the kids. Obviously I don't like to be rushed but I can't stand waiting around any longer than is necessary, especially when the kids are tired or bored. There is one exception to this rule though and that is a Sunday. Sunday's were made for long lunches with family, for proper conversation around the table and for a chance to sit and relax over good food without worrying about having to be elsewhere. Sunday is always our 'family day' and our plans usually revolve around what Steve's going to cook us for lunch.
We were invited along to The Cherry Tree in Jesmond last weekend to sample their Sunday lunch menu. I had just returned from a girly weekend in Durham and welcomed the chance to catch up with Steve and the kids. Jesmond is notoriously not the best for parking but it turns out that Sunday's are a good time to visit. There were plenty of free spaces available in the surrounding streets and finding a parking spot wasn't an issue at all.
The Cherry Tree has experienced a few changes in the past few months. New head chef Farhad Rakani has returned to his North East roots after spending 5 years working in some of London's best kitchens. The restaurant now has a new website, a refined logo and the menu has been tweaked to include new signature dishes alongside customer favourites.
Sunday's are a definite family affair at The Cherry Tree and it's clear that this neighbourhood restaurant is well-loved with lots of regular customers being welcomed through the doors by staff like old friends. Sunday afternoons also feature regular live music and during our visit we were treated to pianist Ian Harrington performing hits old and new which really adds to the sense of occasion. Ian was open to requests too and in honour of our upcoming visit to Disney On Ice presents Frozen, the staff asked him to play 'Let it Go' just for us and he happily obliged.
The Cherry Tree is somewhere my children would describe as 'fancy'. With proper linen tablecloths and napkins, silver cutlery and beautiful chandeliers, the restaurant certainly does feel elegant but it's all done in a very informal way and I think this is mostly down to the fabulous staff who are warm, friendly and welcoming. They really took the time to chat to the kids about the Harry Potter books they'd brought along and really made the effort to ensure they were happy (which in turn meant I was happy). Heidi can be rather spritely at times and when she stood up in the middle of the restaurant to play her own imaginary piano and have a bit of a dance to the music, nobody batted an eye lid. In fact, other diners complimented us on how lovely our children were.
I did think at first glance that £8.95 for 2 courses for children at The Cherry Tree was on the expensive side. However on reflection, I have realised that it is actually the same price as I normally pay every week at our local pub and considering the stylish surroundings, superb staff and quality of food on offer, I think £8.95 is an excellent price.
Children can choose from a half portion of any main, chicken goujons or pork sausages. I appreciated the staff asking if they should sneak some vegetables on the kids' plate too (erm - yes!) and Harry was pleased when ketchup appeared on our table as if by magic.
We couldn't fault the children's meals at all. In fact there wasn't much difference in Jack's Sunday lunch to my own. The food was all homemade, hot and plentiful and there were clean plates all round. Jack was especially impressed with his giant Yorkshire pudding.
Steve and I ordered from the Sunday Menu which is fairly priced at 2 courses for £19. We skipped starters and I went for Roast Lamb and Steve the Rib of Beef. Both were served with super-sized yorkshires, homemade roast potatoes and plenty of seasonal veg. Extra points for the extra jug of delicious red wine gravy that appeared without any prompting. If I had to order again, I would definitely recommend the beef. It was beautifully pink and just had the edge over my lamb.
Service was very attentive yet remained relaxed. As our plates were cleared we were recommended to spend some time enjoying the music (and our wine) and to have a little rest whilst deliberating what to order from the dessert menu. Then when we were ready, to simply catch someones eye and order dessert (which was very easy to do - the staff were on the ball). The kids were full to the brim after their lunch so we welcomed this break and it was actually nice not to rush.
The boys read their books and Steve and I chatted with Heidi about the weekend whilst we listened to the pianist who had returned after a short break. All very civilised!
The children could choose two scoops from a selection of ice cream which was finished with hot chocolate sauce. They loved it. I really struggled with what to order but I've had a real thing for apple crumble at the moment so I had to try The Cherry Tree's version. Served in it's own mini dish with a jug of vanilla custard with a thick crumble topping, it was almost perfect. The only negative I have with the whole meal was that my crumble had obviously just left the oven and it was far too hot to eat. Everyone else on the table had finished their desserts before I could even begin to tuck into mine. When the only thing you have to complain about is your food being too hot though, you know you've had a good meal.
Steve ordered Creme Brûlée which was served with homemade shortbread biscuits and strawberries. It was lovely and light and again, Steve made the best choice. Annoying!
Sunday lunch for the 5 of us worked out at £80 which included 2 courses and a round of drinks. I was actually quite surprised as this is around the price we would pay in a regular restaurant or pub and The Cherry Tree feels like it should have cost a lot more.
By the end of our meal, we truly felt like we had been welcomed into The Cherry Tree family. We chatted with the manager about returning for a live music night which is something we are definitely keen to do on our next date night. There is generally live music every Wednesday evening and diners can choose from a set dinner menu or a la carte. I have my eye on King Scallops with Celariac Puree next time......now I just need to find a babysitter!
Disclosure | We were guests of The Cherry Tree Restaurant and invited to write this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.