Saturday, 7 May 2016


I couldn't think of any better way for a foodie to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death then having a spot of lunch at The Swan on London's Bankside. Practically attached to the famous Shakespeare's Globe theatre, this bar/restaurant caught our eye as we strolled along the length of the Thames last week with it's tasty looking menu proudly on display by the main entrance. That night when we got back to our hotel we booked a table for two at 2pm the next day. Would the food taste as good as it sounded in writing? I couldn't wait to find out!

Firstly, points for The Swan's team calling us two hours before to confirm our reservation. A lot of places rely solely on online bookings nowadays so it was great to get a bit of human acknowledgement of our booking. When we arrived at The Swan on a sunny bank holiday Monday afternoon we were greeted with warm smiles and taken straight up to our table even though we had arrived early. It looked like nothing was going to be a problem for this friendly team.

The dining area upstairs is a absolute delight! The whole far side of this area is practically window offering gorgeous panoramic views of the Thames, St Paul's cathedral and other famous landmarks and on a gorgeous day like this one it was a stunning sight. The windows give the whole dining room a great sense of space and light pours into the room making it so warm and inviting. The decor had modern elements such as the exposed bulb lighting whilst wooden elements to the furniture and in the flooring hark back to Tudor design. Both styles meld together very seamlessly without being gimmicky.

We had decided on having a spot of lunch today washed down with a refreshing glass of cloudy lemonade but it appeared a lot of the other diners had come for the popular "Midsummer's Night Dream" afternoon tea. It looked a treat; three tiers of delicate sandwiches, scones and a top tier of some gorgeous little cakes and shot glasses of some moussey looking things washed down with pots of loose leaf tea, prosecco or a "love potion". The tea is served in some beautiful looking Midsummer's Night Dream tea sets which I'd quite like to own myself. I've got my eye on this for the next time we visit.

I suppose by saying there will be a next time I've given away that I'd like to come back. Well, it's hard for me to disguise this fact as the food was stunning. Our first starter was the tomato gazpacho which was delicious. A fabulous cold soup perfect for a warm day like today. You could taste the freshness of the tomatoes in every drop. Add to it some pesto, a drizzle of oil and crunchy croutons and you'll find it difficult not too scoop up every last drop and you'll find it difficult not to scoop up every last drop with the freshly cut bread served up from the centre of the dining room.

Our other starter was also fitting for a spring afternoon, a fried duck egg served surrounded by a delicate arrangement of broad beans, spring onion, pea shoots and sliced baby radishes and finished with a drizzle of oil. Not only was the plate visually outstanding (so much that I didn't want to touch it, it was so beautiful) but once you cut into that vibrant yellow yolk and allow the golden insides to ooze out all over the tender veg then the dish really comes alive. Loved the little crispy bits of egg white too, just how I like a fried egg! It was that good I didn't want it too end!

But end it did. It's OK though as it was replaced with a beautiful beef Wellington. I prefer my steak rare but I know this isn't quite possible with a Wellington but the plump steak served inside the perfect pastry as still gorgeous and cut like butter. The jus though! That Madeira and red wine jus was the best "gravy" I have ever had. It was packed with such a deep intense meaty flavor (slightly oxtail like) that was so good I could of quite happily poured it straight into my mouth. The carrots and buttery cabbage, as scrumptious as they were on their own didn't stand a chance as they were dunked head first into this immense sauce. Out of this world!

Our other main was another vegetarian stunner of roast halloumi, English asparagus and Jersey royals. Love a Jersey royal and these bad boys were so buttery and soft. The asparagus was tender with a bit of a bite too them and the halloumi was perfectly cooked and minus the squeak that dodgy halloumi can have. Large circular pieces of charred onions added another layer of flavor to the dish alongside the "mystery" sauce. The sauce isn't highlighted on the menu so we had no idea what was in it but it was fabulous and I'd love to know what it was. As well as tasting stunning, it is also a right looker on the plate. Perfection all round.

Did we go on for pudding? With food this good it would of been rude not too! First off the block was an old favorite of ours, the bakewell tart. I love baking a bakewell tart but I love eating them more and this version did not disappoint. The pastry was crisp and buttery and topped with a layer of fruity jam. The frangipagne body of the tart was soft and moist and melted in the mouth. Served alongside it was a spoon of Devon cream that took me right back to childhood memories of holidays in the south west with it's intense creamy smoothness. The definition of a Great British bake on a plate.

Finally, along came this lemon and almond cake served with pistachio ice cream and lemon curd. Kind of a "textures of lemon" dish in a way. The slices of lemon set on top of the cake were super sour and very sherbet like. The cake was so moist it practically oozed lemon as my spoon glided through it. The pistachio ice cream was smooth and creamy whilst the little nibs of nut and biscuit crumb give the plate another texture to explore. I thought they were a bit stingy with the curd but once I tasted it I understood why. The little blobs practically punched you in the face with their intense flavor. For lemon lovers this is paradise on a plate.

What an amazing lunch this was. I was more than happy to pay the bill which came sat inside a book of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Such a cute way to add a final piece of theatre to the meal. I can't recommend The Swan enough. The literary history mixed with the stunning views and location, warm and friendly staff together with the fabulously presented traditional dishes all combine together to create a dining experience that the Bard would be proud of. Whether your coming for afternoon tea, lunch or dinner you will leave with a full belly and a big smile on your face. To go or not to go? The answer is most definitely a resounding YES!

Find out more about The Swan head on over to their website. Do yourself a favor and book a table today!

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