With A Cherry (Tree) On Top | The Cherry Tree, East Dulwich, London
It was a quiet Sunday morning and we had just spent a near perfect fortnight on holiday with my kids (including an amazing week at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Turkey). The children had gone back to their mother’s house and it was quiet – too quiet.
To say that we had the holiday blues was somewhat of an understatement. We needed perking up and what better way than a Sunday roast and a little tipple. Was The Cherry Tree in Dulwich up to the job? We bloody well hoped so.
We’d been to the Dulwich/Peckham Rye/Honor Oak area quite a lot over the past year to both eat (at the wonderful Franklins and The Honor Oak) and to explore. We were getting used to the 40 minute drive, worth risking the possibilities of roadwork stress to have a little wander around the beautiful gardens and open spaces. Parking in Dulwich isn’t really an issue either, especially at weekends, we even managed to find a space virtually outside the pub doors – result.
The Cherry Tree is deceptively large – with a patio at the front, a shaded side terrace and what they boast as ‘the best pub garden in the area’, complete with table tennis table. Inside has recently been renovated, the walls painted in classic warm grey and cream with an exposed brick wall here and a wooden panel there.
The decor only flirts with being industrial, this is a proper London pub not a hipster dive bar. I loved the heavy modular storage behind the bar and their selection of quirky framed graphic artworks added vibrant splashes of colour.
The menu is seasonal and changes every couple of weeks, so there’s every chance that what we had won’t be on the menu. That said, judging by the quality of cooking, you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
As well as their ‘all day, every day’ menu they do Great Sunday roasts, as you’ll soon read about, a nice selection of locally brewed cask ales and bottled craft beer. The Cherry Tree‘s wine list isn’t too shoddy either, divided into easy to understand sections – no wine snobbery here.
Our meal, as usual, started with a couple of apéritifs. A Raspberry & Prosecco fizz (£5.50), made with fresh raspberry purée and vanilla liqueur, for Saff and a White port & tonic (£5) for me – a refreshing and modern twist on what is perceived as an old-fashioned drink.
We were surprised by the menu, we had visions of the usual over-worked burger and over-cooked chicken ‘n’ chips options. But no, The Cherry Tree‘s menu was really inventive and all excellent value, especially considering the quality of ingredients and portion size.
My starter was a perfect example of this – Warm baby mozzarella, Mediterranean vegetables, mint and cashew pesto (£7). The mint really punched its way through the sweet grilled veg with the earthy cashews bringing out the creaminess of the cheese. Saff’s Garlic and coriander prawns, tomato salsa and sourdough (£7) had a Spanish influence, it was like two tapas dishes in one, both combining to make a tasty little starter.
As explained before we needed cheering up and some proper comfort food so Saff went for the Sunday roast (£15). Excellent quality Dukesmoor beef served either well done or pink (she went for it tender and rare – obviously) a massive Yorkshire pudding and horseradish cream.
So far so good, the accompanying veg were good too especially the slightly pickled white cabbage. The only slight let down were the roast spuds, they didn’t have that crispy outer and soft fluffy inside which should be the benchmark of any good roast potato.
I was intrigued by the Duck and chocolate gravy (£14). Slices of roasted breast of huge bed of smooth sweet potato mash and poached pear. This wasn’t as sweet as you’d expect – the pear adds a highlight to the otherwise soft textures, whilst the dark chocolate gave a slight bitterness to the gravy.
Desserts were a little more standard, but sometimes you need just that. I had my eye on the Sticky toffee pudding, that idea went straight out of the window after I’d demolished the mountain of sweet potato mash – I was simply too full. So I opted for an Espresso affogato pick-me-up (£4), one spoonful and all my memories of southern Italy came flooding back.
Saff needed a lighter option too, the beef had taken its toll on her belly – even the jeans had to be unbuttoned. So the Lemon and almond posset (£5) was the solution, even if it did come with a couple of shortbread biscuits. The almond was very subtle – possibly too subtle and Saff wasn’t too sure about the layer of chocolate atop the posset but it grew on her, so much so that I only given a measly single spoon taster.
Overall we were impressed by the The Cherry Tree. They’ve managed to keep that local feeling, whist making the menu good enough to attract attention from further afield. Service was spot on, the staff so welcoming and friendly – our waitress even ran off to the bar for a glass of soda water and a cloth when she saw that Saff has splashed some oil on her top. (Top stain removing tip – it actually worked.) Now to start saving for a house in East Dulwich for our local pubs and restaurants leave a lot to be desired.
31-33 Grove Vale
East Dulwich, London SE22 8EQ
Telephone: 0208 693 9285
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm – 11pm
Nearest station: East Dulwich (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of The Cherry Tree, this does not affect our review in any way.
We always write with complete honesty.