Top of the pubs?

For the second year in a row, the Swan at Swinbrook has been voted Oxfordshire’s Dining Pub of the Year and retained its AA Rosette; we sent our restaurant reviewer to investigate.

The Swan Inn at Swinbrook has changed a lot since my last visit over a year ago. The tenant, Archie Orr Ewing, who also owns The King’s Head at Bledington, has brought in a partner and the result is better service and better food. Actually, the service was outstanding. I went there for lunch with a friend and his son.  We ate outside and we were given a friendly greeting, a drink within minutes and the first course ten minutes later.

The menu has all the things one would expect in a decent pub. My friend, David, started with heirloom tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, red onions, mixed leaf salad and pesto; his son, Vince, tried cashew nut hummus with toasted sourdough and I had the crab royale with granny smith apple, celeriac and lovage oil. We could have chosen ham hock ballotine or chicken liver parfait or squid.

For the main course David tried the fishcakes which had a proper amount of salmon and cod and not too much potato, I went for the double baked cheese soufflé which was spot on and Vince tucked into the dry aged beef burger which he said was even better than McDonald’s. There was a wide choice of food but that’s for next time.

I didn’t start with my usual pint of bitter but I asked a couple of people there who were drinking beer and they gave it the thumbs up. We ordered a bottle of their reasonably priced Sauvignon Blanc which came without delay and it was properly cold. Vince had a pint of Pepsi Cola. Each to their own.

The portions were generous and left us with no room for desserts so we settled for coffee which was good enough.

The bill was £90 which seems to be about the expected price around here. If I was visiting the Cotswolds and I chanced upon The Swan I would leave a happy man.


October-November 2021