10 reviews of Strawberry Tree Country Restaurant
Fabulous restaurant: best food in Bedfordshire, service has always been unobtrusive but friendly. I don't want to be fussed over and bothered by endless questions, so I love the serving style. The parmesan ice cream is to die for: my companion begged for a tub to take home!
I have been to the restaurant on a couple of occasions.I have noted that the hosts were somewhat frosty and could be more welcoming, the waitress who served us couldn't have been more polite and cheery, which made a difference.I cannot fault the food, which was fantastic, but the wine service leaves a lot to be desired, you do not get to taste your wine once selected, it is merely left on your table. The markup on the wine is questionable, I resent paying nearly 4 times the shop price for bog standard plonk. I understand that this is where some restaurants make their money, but many top London restaurants do not have the same exhorbitant practice.
We have visited the Strawberry Tree a few times and find the food fabulous - I do agree that the owners are fairly rude and not at all welcoming - feel sorry for them - would you want you front room filled with stangers every weekend? It makes a change - I hate over attentive service that makes it impossible to finish a sentance without a gushing host. We just enjoy the food and count the owners of the restaurant as 2 English eccentrics.
Sonia Banks FHCIMA
The Strawberry Tree is a delight but as many have already said the front of house lets the meal experience down big time. The front of house needs a warm, welcoming host who is enthusiastic and excited by the food coming from the kitchen and delighted to see you! Our visits have petered off as we too have been the only guests at lunchtime and after a time one looks for an alternative venue. Perhaps they should adopt the luncheon idea of Auberge du Lac and offer a three course luncheon plus two glasses of wine, plus coffee at a set price. There are plenty of ladies who lunch in Bedfordshire and the business community would also be delighted to have such a wonderful venue to visit. People want to leave a restaurant feeling happy and looking forward to the next visit. Their opening hours almost indicates their business is only a hobby!
We have eaten here once as The Guardian raved about it. However I found the service of the couple who run it rather miserable , the food was lovely but the staff let it down, My husband wants to return but I don't feel it is that welcoming, it felt more like a wake than a birthday treat.
I booked the Strawberry Tree for a group of six, to celebrate my wife's graduation - my wife and I and all of our parents. Funnily, upon confirming the arrangements with the group we found that my father-in-law had been refused access previously for afternoon tea as he was wearing a t-shirt!! Upon arrival we were greeted by a lady who had a rather impersonal, mechanistic and somewhat unhumourous air, contrary to the rather pleasant surroundings of the restaurant itself. We were served pre-dinner drinks in an orderly fashion by her husband and we ordered food and wine. It did feel as if we had somewhat imposed and their hospitality was grudgingly given. Our wine was placed upon our table in the other room and we were invited through - no chat, no small talk. (Maybe they recogised the father-in-law!) The restaurant had only one other couple in it, indeed we were only joined by one other table of five for the whole evening, and it was a Friday. The food on the whole was uneventful (especially for the vegetarians in our party - who were not impressed), although was generally felt to be of a high quality. There was a notable butternut squash soup served as an "Amuse Bouche" - and the wine was very pleasant. Service was mechanistic - they visited three times to clear my soup - but other than this it was totally inattentive - we were not served wine for example (although another table were). We were left to our own devices. Upon asking for the bill we noticed a 12.5% service charge had been added to our bill circa £350 making a total of over £400 or around £67 per head. We are in high quality London and even one-star Michelin territory here, so it was a surpise when the restaurant refused to accept Amex. When it was suggested that such a high service charge should follow through to their offering the full range of payment options, the owner became quite aggressive, to the point that he drew attention to the table. He said that they didn't take Amex as the settlement rate was too high but as we had brought up the service charge he was willing to remove it, if it was that important to us. I'm sure the £45 for virtually ignoring the table for the evening would have covered it and left his customer happier. None of us will ever return.
Having visited the Strawberry Tree for the first time I would like to say how impressive the whole layout of the restaurant was. On our arrival we were greeted by our genial hostess, who was both polite and pleasant. Having served pre-dinner drinks we were shown through to our table in the main restaurant.
The choice of food availaible on the menu was excellent, and the overall quality and presentation was way beyond expectations.
The restaurant itself was absolutley fantastic, both intimate and cosy. The level of service was excellent.
In conclusion for the type of establishent that was being run, the prices were very reasonable. One member of our party, who has dined at some of the top restaurants around the world, commented that the Strawberry Tree is definitely within the same class. A must for true conniseurs.
Glyn and Indz Cowling
We arrived at the Strawberry Tree with a warm welcome, we took a seat in the 'lobby area' and were served drinks and a small bowl of 'nibbles'. We sat down for a while having a chat with another couple waiting to be seated for their meal. Whilst enjoying the decor of the restaurant we were guided through the history of the building. We were then asked if we were ready to order and after taking our order we were asked if we would like to go through to the dinning area. Both myself and my partner had ordered makeral to start - fabulous, for a main course i had the char-grilled sirloin steak with spinach and horseradish potatoes and my wife had lamb shank with peas and broad beans. There was not a scrap left on the plate, the food and layout was amongst the best I have ever had, the sirloin steak melted in mouth with a warmth that cannot be described by words. The whole experience was wonderfull, I would have paid double the bill for the care and attention we recieved. I would be shocked if anyone could have a bad word for this restaurant and can only think that the person 'Gareth D'Cruze' has mistaken this for a beefeater on the side of a busy main road.
I first visited the Strawberry Tree in late 2001 soon after reading a glowing review by Matthew Fort in the Guardian. I had moved to a village (Bromham) just a few miles from the restaurant (in Milton Ernest) almost a year previously but had never heard of it - In light of the accolades thrown on it I considered this a stunning ommission on my part. There are all too few opportunities to enjoy a decent meal in Bedfordshire. The restaurant itself is charming, the lounge sticks to a period cottage feel which makes the more contemporary designed dinning room all the more impressive complete as it is with modern works of art (including some great still lifes). I have never been disappointed with the food a good range of hors d'ouevre (always with a veggie option - an essential for my other half). Once you have been seen to your table a 'taster' of soup, perhaps pumpkin and parsnip, is always provided complimentary and never fails to whet the appeptite. The selection of courses though limited are always executed to almost perfection not only taste wonderful but also look stunning. The desserts are also a joy. I recall Mattew Fort placing his dessert (a thin crispy pastry with a ginger ice cream) in one of his top ten dishes that year. There is no doubt that the food at the Strawberry Tree can hold it's own with many well known and highly acclaimed restaurants. However my enthusiasm is always tempered by the lacklustre service. I understand that the chef's are self taught - all the more impressive judging by the culinary skills - unfortunately the 'front of house staff' leaves much to be desired. I have always found the staff friendly but far to thin on the ground. I do not care for being rushed in a meal nor do I wish to to sit for lengthy periods between courses due to a lack of staff or professionalism. On most occaissions I have left the restaurant having enjoyed a fantastic meal but questioning my resolve return to such woeful service. The fact that I do is credit to the chef's. As others have noted dinning at the Strawberry Tree is not cheap and it's patrons deserve a far higher standard of service to provide all round experience. When reading about the restaurant in the Guardian I was stunned that I had overlooked it. However this does not appear to be a venue that seeks publicity, although they send out the odd newsletter (to patrons) they do not operate regular opening hours and there is no web-site (in this day and age most decent restaurants have one). In hindsight this lackadaisical attitude seems symptomatic of the restaurants service does it a great disservice.
I visited the Strawberry Tree in Milton Ernest on Saturday 29th March for an anniversary with my girlfriend. On arrival I was greeted with a strange look from a Lady who I assume is the owner, before taking my girlfriends coat and offering us a seat, after we had a drink and delicious smoked trout cone (although it tasted like salmon and the lady told other guests it was salmon??!) we were guided to our table. I had ordered scallops to start with and pan fried brill to follow, both of which were cooked to perfection and tasted wonderful, my girlfriend opted for pasta followed by pot roasted beef which again were excellent. Deserts were a cheeseboard for me which had a lovely selection of cheeses although the portions were quite miserly and I wanted more of the camembert!!, Jo had a steamed pudding with ice cream which she didn't really like (she's more of a apple pie and custard person).
Overall the meal was superb it was only spoilt by the service, our bottle of wine lay empty for 10mins before we asked the waitress (who was great) for more drinks, she told us that the man (the other owner) would need to take our order as she could not, so we had to wait for him to collect our plates before asking him for more drinks, as he collected my still in use glass of water, putting his finger in the glass before putting it back we finally got our drinks.
I felt we were completely neglected in the restaurant while the staff chatted amongst their friends and felt we were treated as such because we are both in our early twenties and not part of their little club.
I'm not generally a complainer but I was so disappointed with the Strawberry Tree, we were celebrating our anniversary and this spoiled it a bit. The Fisherman's Lodge in Newcastle (which is a similar setup) was faultless in food and service. Seeing as you pay top money (dinner was £120) I expect top service sadly this was not the case.
Overall food was excellent but the service was terrible and I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to anyone as the poor service spoiled the whole experience.