Soup is not one of things we tend to get excited about, is it?

It is the journeyman option on any menu, the sort of thing to choose when no other starter enthuses.

And nine times out of ten it is perfectly acceptable. It is rarely disastrous because, I mean, who can’t make it? After learning how to boil an egg, it must be the easiest culinary skill to master.

It is quite something then when I have to dust off the superlatives for a humble bowl of vegetable soup.

Three of us were bowled over by the roasted vegetable soup at the Green Tree. “Wow, wow”, “incredible”, “flavour-packed” were just some of the expressions used to describe it. Attractively presented with a scatter of chives, pea shoots and other indeterminate green stuff, it had chunks of root vegetables lurking in the velvety, flavoursome depths and was accompanied by hunks of sourdough bread and butter.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Eating Out at The Green Tree Inn, Patrick Brompton

One member of the party, who shall be nameless, was on the point of picking up the bowl and licking it out. It was that good.

Why were we all eating soup? Well, at the Green Tree on a Wednesday there a Hobson’s Choice (ie no choice) set menu – three courses for £20 and it’s a bit of steal provided you are happy with what’s on offer that particular Wednesday. There are not alternatives but it changes every week.

If you eat from the a la carte you’ll be spending the minimum of £12 on a starter and £24-plus for a non-vegetarian main course. A three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine will comfortably set you back over a ton.

But before you throw your hands up in horror, consider this. You may have read in the D&S news pages recently that the new owners have spent £600,000 on restoring the Green Tree. When they got their hands on the Grade II-listed building four years ago it was a wreck.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Eating Out at The Green Tree Inn, Patrick Brompton

The restoration included a new roof and much more, including a rebuilt structure to the rear to house the kitchen and a considerably bigger car park. The completed refurb is the ultimate in pub updating. It’s cosy and classy. Not a penny has been spared. We liked it. A lot.

You may recall my remarks about pub dining rooms a last week. They certainly don’t apply here where the dining room is just as warm and welcoming as the bar area (where customers can also eat). It’s not massive so booking is essential, especially on the Hobson’s Choice nights.

After the lip-smackingly-good soup, the main course almost hit similar heights. Chicken Kiev is a difficult dish to get right. How do you ensure all that garlic butter doesn’t leak out before the end of the cooking time?

Darlington and Stockton Times: Eating Out at The Green Tree Inn, Patrick Brompton

That was the result with these beauties wrapped in panko breadcrumb overcoats and bursting with golden juices.

They were also big and I mean so big I almost wondered if they were from turkeys. This was great but a downside was that with one of them the garlic butter had struggled to permeate the extremities of the meat which meant it was not quite as moist as it might have been.

The Kievs came with golden sauteed potatoes and medleys of green vegetables – green beans, mange-tout and broccoli – all beautifully cooked and presented.

The dessert was a baked yogurt Eton mess with strawberries – as modestly proportioned as the Kievs were monstrous. The tartness from the yoghurt made for a refreshing finish to an excellent meal.

The Hobson’s Choice menu also offered a bottle of a pretty butch Montado house Tempranillo for £20 which is a substantial discount on the menu list price.

The staff were universally friendly and efficient too. We felt looked after.

Overall, it’s cracking value and I understand the Hobson’s Choice nights will not last forever. Eating here for less than £50 a couple is definitely worth a punt. You can then decide if should return for the full a la carte experience.

The Green Tree Inn

Patrick Brompton, Bedale DL8 1JW

Tel: 01677 450111 Web:

Open for food: Wednesday-Sunday noon-11pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9 Service 9 Surroundings 10 Value 9