Oak Tree Inn, Helperby
West of Easingwold, north of York and mid-way between the A1 and the A19, the Oak Tree at Helperby is one of the Provenance Inn’s group of seven pub/restaurants with rooms (Carpenters Arms, Crown & Cushion, Punch Bowl, Durham Ox, Black Bull at Moulton and the West Park Hotel).
The Oak Tree was a total wreck until they spent 12 months and a small fortune all but rebuilding it and creating a place worth eating and staying. There are six beautifully fitted out bedrooms, a comfortable stone flagged bar and a dining room painted the groups hallmark burgundy, a wall of wallpaper books and a collection of silver teapots. Outside is a dining courtyard and as in all the Provenance Inns, a glamorous private dining room.
So far, so Provenance, another inn that looks good with an A3 all-day menu of reasonably priced food and a range of dishes to suit all tastes. The menus may look the same but the chef at each inn is allowed his head. At the Oak Tree they run a Breakfast Café that opens at 8am with a full English, croissant, toast and coffee.
At lunch you can go for a sandwich or their decent value market menu lunch – two courses £12.95 and £14.95 for three, with the likes of smoked haddock and pea risotto or spiced seabass with cherry cheesecake or Kirsch cherry trifle to finish.
In the evening we went for the apple and black pudding crispy wontons, as good as they sound and a text book plate of asparagus, poached egg and new potato salad. We followed with a special of grilled Dover sole with butter with capers and a miniature copper pan of new potatoes and Yorkshire reared Wagyu beef, with mushroom, tomato, onion rings and well cooked chips. Excellent though in all honesty I would be hard pressed to tell my Wagyu from any other beef .
We finished with a jostaberry and white chocolate bavarois. Jostaberry? A cross, we’re told between a gooseberry and a blackcurrant. You don’t get these everywhere, or anywhere that I know. It’s here because Provenance partner Chris Blundell, owns a magnificent kitchen garden at his home at Mount St John, near Felixkirk and surplus fruit and vegetables and sometimes exotic fruits and heritage breeds, find their way into the Provenance kitchens and onto your plate. It’s as good a reason as any to eat here, as well as decent food at decent prices in charming surroundings.