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Review: The Yew Tree, Avon Dassett, Warwickshire

With its newly refurbished interiors, laidback friendly vibe and very own ice-cream shack, 19th century country pub The Yew Tree in Avon Dassett is one to add to your list.

If you hadn’t already twigged The Yew Tree is turning over a new leaf with spruced up interiors as new tenant-manager Jack has put down roots in the pretty small Warwickshire village of Avon Dassett and is branching out with a raft of exciting plans (OK, enough of the tree puns, let’s step inside!).

The location

Located in South Warwickshire on the edge of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at the foot of the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, this small, incredibly pretty and thriving rural village is ideally placed for circular country walks/cycle rides and a bite to eat.

Avon Dassett lies between Banbury and Warwick, within easy driving distance of Southam, Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon and 30 minutes from Rugby.

The lowdown

New tenant/manager Jack McEntee arrived in September 2020

Wolverhampton native Jack McEntee, who previously managed The Orange Tree at Chadwick End, Solihull, and his partner Ella Heritage took over this village local in September 2020 with a stylish interior’s makeover and renewed sense of purpose as a prime pitstop for a bite to eat.

With his newly formed Happy Wolf Pub company, touchingly inspired by his late uncle and his love of Wolves FC,  the pub’s genial new tenant/manager brings with him creative director Ella, 20-year-old head chef Mimi Colyer who previously worked in Leicestershire as a Chef de Partie, and her second-in-command, Keaton Ward, from The Falcon at Warmington, Banbury.

Look out for all their latest food news and offers on Facebook and Insta, including the brand-new December menu, quiz night every other Sunday and Pie night on Mondays.

Dating back to 1841 the pub was formerly known as The Red Lion, and has quite a colourful history – including a notorious murder case following a fight between two locals over politics. In the 1970’s the pub’s name switched to The Avon and then became The Yew Tree when it was bought by a consortium of local shareholders in 2017 who ran the pub as a community venture providing a range of services.

Villagers have been incredibly supportive since its reincarnation. Covid-safe measures are endorsed with all staff wearing masks, all customers asked to check into the NHS app and adhere to the current 10pm closing time.

The vibe

Stylish, cosy and comfortingly traditional.

The main front door leads into a bar area which flows into the main restaurant area. Inside the decor is modern rustic-chic with a grey palette, beams and atmospheric lighting.

The bar

Outside is a lush garden at the back with benches gorgeous greenery, seasonal blooms and its very own quirky wooden ice-cream shack selling Frellies ice-cream, made locally in the village.

Jack has more plans in hand for the garden, so watch this space.

During the day The Yew Tree is popular with cyclists, walkers and their dogs. We came for a family meal on a Saturday evening and arrived to a buzzy atmosphere. Every table had been pre-booked despite Storm Alex raging outside.

There was a lovely warm welcome on arrival and a friendly vibe – it feels like a great place to kick back and relax – with three new drinks menus to deliberate over.

Scoff and quaff

Carnivores, pescatarians, veggies, vegans, gluten-free and kids can nosh on pub classics and more from beer battered haddock and chips to thick cut honey & orange roast ham and spaghetti carbonara, with alternatives including a vegan black bean burrito and a butternut squash katsu curry main.

On the Saturday night, specials included a seasonal roasted pumpkin soup the BBQ pulled pork burger with bacon, onion rings and fries which my husband couldn’t resist, and mussels with tomato and chorizo.

Jack is hoping to expand the menu with a market dish of the day, veggie dish of the day and catch of the day. Bookings are now being taken for their cracking Sunday roast which has really taken off.

First up the roasted pumpkin soup special, garlic and chilli prawns with sourdough toast and chicken Caesar salad – a big thumbs up all round.

Mains included a delicious pan-fried seabass (cooked to perfection) with buttered new potatoes, garlic spinach and poached egg with hollandaise sauce – washed down with a glass of very smooth dry New Zealand Sauvignon (glug, glug, glug) from a list of 24 wines. 

And for all carnivores, here’s the BBQ pulled pork special in all its glory.

Desserts at The Yew Tree will definitely delight Bake-Off fans. 

The newly introduced Cheesecake of the Week – hand-made by Frellies in the village – is already proving to be a best-seller. This particular week it was tangy passion fruit.

Waffle of the Week: blueberry and vanilla.

A very good take on the new viral sweet-tooth trend in town – rich and fudgy Lotus Biscoff brownie with Biscoff ice cream.

I opted for a cheeky Newbold Sprit Cherry Gin from the nearby Leamington distillery.

Three new drinks menus include vino, a gin & spirit menu with 14 gins including three locals – Cotswolds Distillery Dry Gin, Shakespeare Distillery’s Stratford Gin and three Newbold Spirit tipples.

And good going for a village pub there’s even a cocktail menu with three different Espresso Martini’s – regular, salted caramel or after dinner mint, Aperol Spritz and seasonal cocktails including a Redleg ginger mojito and Keepr’s Bumble, a gin and honey combo.

The chefs pride themselves on supporting local suppliers; meat is sourced from Steve Bett’s butchers in Banbury, fish from M&J seafood in Birmingham, while fruit and veg is from A M Bailey in Stratford-upon-Avon.

You can end your meal with a cup of Warwickshire artisan roasted coffee from Stratford’s ethically-sourced Monsoon Estates.

Kid friendly?

Yes, it felt very relaxed. Children and dogs are made very welcome here, with so many family-friendly things to do nearby. It’s perfect for a kid-friendly ice-cream outing on a sunny day. There’s more of a grown up feel in the evening but the vibe is laidback.

Our teen was very pleased with her Yew Tree chicken burger, chips and coleslaw (above) from the main menu; while her 11-year-old vegetarian sister happily tucked into home-made tortilla nachos as a main with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

For younger children there’s a Little Biters Kids menu with a choice of Small Bites – garlic bread or baby nachos all for under £3, four mains including mini battered fish and mac ‘n’ cheese for £4.95 each and Sweet Bites – Eton Mess, chocolate brownie or Frellies ice cream  – from £1.75 to £3.50.

Out and About

Farnborough Hall, courtesy of The National Trust

Avon Dassett is nestled on the slopes of the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park and combines spectacular scenery with the peace and beauty of a small rural village with a Reading Room, children’s playground, post office, parish church and primary school.

Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, managed by Warwickshire County Council, is set around a group of ironstone hills which rising to 203m (667 ft) with excellent views across the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. There are 100 acres to explore with sites of historical interest such as the beacon, quarry remains and the nearby 12th Century All Saints Church.

Take a jog in the parkland around the National Trust’s Farnborough Hall (just a four-minute drive), a honey-coloured 18th century house with Grade I listed parkland or head to Upton House, 10-minutes away. There are two 3 – 6-mile circular walks from the village – Avon Dassett to Farnbourgh Hall and the Three Spires walk taking in Fenny Compton, Avon Dassett and Farnborough – with details on the pub website here.

There’s also regular local farmer’s market at Kineton and Warwick Castle nearby.

MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Date nights, fun nights out with the gang, small family gatherings and Sunday lunch seekers. The Yew Tree offers a warm welcome to all, whether you’re in for a three-course blow out or a pint of ale and a packet of crisps.

Not for: It’s a pub with good food and a laid back atmos, not a silver service restaurant. If you live further afield and are planning to make a night of it, you may need to book an Uber in advance as the village is quite remote.

The damage: Really excellent value with starters from £5.50- £7.50, mains between £7.95-£21.95 and sides £3-£4.95. Desserts range from £1.75-£6.50 with different sized cheeseboards starting at £2.50-£8.50.

The Yew Tree, Avon Dassett, Warwickshire CV47 2AS, 01295 690844

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