First impressions of The Swan

apintattheswanA new pub in a village might be compared to the birth of a new sibling in the family- preceded with gossip as to its due date and whether it might actually grow up to be a decent offspring, the runt of the litter, or the village reprobate?

I visited The Swan within days of opening, with the paint on the green outdoor furnishings still tacky; the kind of paint that if I got a smidgen on my shorts they would become worth a lot more than they did before I sat down.

Staff were huddled around the door to welcome people in, and welcome I felt indeed. I felt at ease surrounded by newspapers and complimentary reading glasses, suggesting they’ve done their market research in the Wychwoods.

Wondering out into the garden, clutching a Gloucestershire cider fresh off the tap and a cool rose in a rather stumpy glass, people-watchers were disguised behind their panama brims and vast sunglasses, with canine accomplices delighted to be welcomed and seemingly frequenting a similar pastime of judging everyone that wondered past.

At first the ambience was timid yet optimistic, a little like a prep school open day but with a fair whack of Prosecco to liven things up but before long, conversation swelled, conversation spattered with the occasional snort of laughter following an awful joke, one associated with British folk having a jolly good time.

The first of the main courses on the understated but extravagant menu – ‘Smoked Haddock Monte Carlo’ was literally leaping out to be chosen.  I had no hint as to what I had ordered and felt slightly pessimistic at the idea of a fish dish coming anywhere close to filling me up.

The hunk of haddock steaming in front of me looked good, assured and confident, smothered in its humble partner- an orange gold poached egg. The churns of butter in the mash and a similarly rich beurre blanc (almost identical consistencies) made it one to come back for alone.

A small paragraph on the menu was dedicated to describing the burger, ‘juicy patties,’ ‘crunchy yet nutty slaw’ and even ‘tobacco onions.’  I wish I could have tasted the ‘tobacco onions’, but then realised it was probably good for my health that I couldn’t.  Chips, French fries or however they were described, most remained on the side of my plate before the over-seasoning proved terminal.

Given that this was The Swan’s first week in the esteemed family of Wychwood pubs, we can be sure it’s neither the runt of the litter nor the village reprobate, and I can’t wait to see it flourish more in the coming summer months and beyond.

Christian Collins

August-September 2019