Our 9 year old Springer Spaniel (aka Holly) is a relatively well behaved pooch, but we rarely take her out with us when trying out new pubs and restaurants. We always say we should, but then talk ourselves out of it. Then when we’re sat in the pub surrounded by other furry faces, we wish we’d just brought her along.
We’d heard great things about the food at The Swan Inn, in Birlingham located just outside of Pershore and fairly local to us. In fact it was suggested by someone in the Worcestershire Foodies Facebook group recently, with the cheese soufflé being highly recommended amongst the dishes to try. This seemed like the ideal place for the 3 of us to venture out to for a spot of lunch, and still being close enough to home should Miss Holly not approve.
The Swan Inn is a charming thatched pub dating back to the mid-late 16th century, retaining many of its original features. It was most recently taken over by the Russon and Haines family who bought the traditional country pub back in 2013, and upgraded the roof of the conservatory (used as the main dining area) during a 5 week revamp, before opening to customers.
We rang ahead to check they had space for us and would welcome the dog and when we arrived we chatted to co-owner, Will, who said we could sit in the bar rather than the conservatory if we preferred. This was much better for us as we had plenty of space next to the open log fire to spread out and get comfortable. Holly was happy having being offered some dog biscuits by Will from a jar they keep on the bar (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it).
In addition to the light meals menu and main menu, there was also a huge blackboard on the wall filled with fresh fish specials – we were spoilt for choice. As well as having the cheese soufflé in my mind as a recommendation, I also quite fancied it. Mr R wanted to try the fresh baked seafood crepe au gratin from the fish board and there was an option to order a smaller version as a starter for both, so we went with one of each. Both starters arrived quickly and piping hot.
The cheese soufflé was fluffy inside, unashamedly indulgent and perfectly warming for a cold winters day. Calories wise the starter size (£6.95) would have made an ample main course dish, but we weren’t really thinking about calories at all today. Similarly the smaller portion of seafood crepe au gratin (£8.95) topped with hot bubbling grilled cheese was both satisfying and fulfilling. Inside of the thin, homemade pancake was a deep fish filling of salmon and haddock chunks and some big juicy prawns. Enough food for a filling main course at lunch indeed, but we had more to come.
Thankfully the Thai chicken curry (£13.50) Mr R had opted for seemed light enough to manage. It’s tricky to make a curry look as pretty as it tastes, but this one came in a neatly formed filo pastry bowl and looked fantastic. The chicken had been chargrilled separately before being added to the fragrant Thai curry sauce, and subsequently retained moisture as well as being thoroughly cooked through. A fresh, homemade, tasty curry is what Mr R had hoped for and that’s precisely what he got.
For no apparent reason I have developed ‘a thing’ recently for fish ‘n’ chips, so when I saw the beer battered haddock on the fish board I couldn’t resist. There were 2 size options to chose from, the smaller 5oz (£9.95) would have been the more sensible option, but I went with the 10oz (£12.50) portion anyway. It appeared to be a popular choice looking around the room at other the diners all tucking into their fish lunches. The chef’s own beer batter was thick, too thick for me to enjoy it, but a perfect encasing for the cooking of the haddock. With the batter removed and the fillet now exposed, I got stuck in. I really enjoyed the fish, it was a succulent and meaty piece of haddock. The homemade pea & mint purée was an excellent accompaniment when combined with the chunky chips, tartar and haddock.
With the concern about calories well and truly behind us, we agreed to look at the dessert board. The daily chalkboard offered 6 tasty puds all at £5.95 each, including a hot chocolate brownie & ice cream sundae which we ordered and shared. As with most sundaes, the best bit is in the bottom, and this one was no different. Warm chocolatey chunks of squidgy brownie sat underneath layers of ice cream, chocolate sauce and cream. Holly waited patiently whilst we finished our excessive lunch, hopeful throughout that something might jump off one of the plates and into her mouth. Unfortunately for her this didn’t happen, but when Mr R went to the bar to pay the bill, he returned with a little extra treat for us all.
Cost: £47.85 (food only)
2 Starters, 2 main course, 1 dessert
Birlingham nr. Pershore, Worcestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in January 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 10th March 2016