The Swan, Wedmore
The Swan, Georgian coaching house turned gorgeous gastropub in Wedmore on the Somerset Levels. Think stripped wooden floors, leather sofas, wood-burning stoves, a fab light and airy dining area – with a kitchen headed up by ex-River Cottage chef Tom Blake serving a constantly changing menu of delicious, seasonal, locally sourced food. Need I say more?
Well, if you insist…
The first thing you see when you enter The Swan is the massive wooden bar running almost across the width of the entire building. Couldn’t actually get all of the bar in the picture, even with panorama. Perch there or find a table in the bar or in one of the many nooks and crannies either side – the whole place is open plan with a casual, laid back feel. There are people on their own reading the paper, women having coffee with friends, a group working on their laptops as well as those coming in to have lunch – anything goes.
The spacious main dining area overlooks the garden, with tables for two, four and six, set with crisply ironed napkins and shining cutlery. Fabric pads around the top of the walls and felted grey clouds hanging from the high ceiling absorb sound so that when the room got busy later on, the noise of chat stays low – clever. And check out that fab light…
Elegant tables for two are set around the edge of the room and spaced far enough apart for intimacy.
Once seated, a bottle of tap and a generous plate of bread, baked daily on the premises, promptly arrived. You can buy a loaf to take away too.
So, onto the menu which changes daily, depending on what’s in season. All the food is sourced locally – the meat comes from animal reared on the fields around Wedmore, fish comes up from Bridport, eggs from Burnham-on-Sea (you get the picture?) – nothing is imported.
Starters are all enticing, and include crispy lamb breast, radicchio salad, cornichons and Dijion dressing, Wester Ross salmon and herb fish cake with celeriac remoulade and French onion soup with Dorset Blue Vinney toast. If the size of my delicious roast beetroot, rocket, barley and herb salad with yoghurt dressing, is anything to go by, portions are huge so you could easily have one of these plus the bread as a light lunch.
For the mains, it was a toss up between the spiced squash and apricot tagine, fresh coriander, blood orange and crispy fruit citrus couscous or aromatic pork shoulder with Boston baked beans, kale, fennel and sea salt scratchings. And the winner was…
The pork was melt-in-the-mouth and great with the beans and kale. For the sake of the blog, I girded my loins, loosened my waistband and picked up the dessert menu. I chose vanilla yoghurt panna cotta with spiced poach pears and granola (sorry Marmalade bread and butter pud) and it was absolutely scrummy. The service throughout was unobtrusive, efficient and friendly.
I’d happily bring the Muddies here, the atmosphere’s relaxed and there’s a children’s menu which is a shorter version of the main. It includes things like the tagine, pork shoulder etc but also has macaroni cheese made with Keen’s cheddar and Old Spot sausages and hand cut chips.
You can also come for breakfast, afternoon tea and cake (home-baked, natch) or even stay overnight – there are seven en-suite bedrooms, which I didn’t manage to see on this visit. Outside, there’s a large garden and terrace set with wooden tables and chairs. The cooking moves outside too – there’s a wood burning oven, a barbeque and a smoker.
Roll on summer…
Good for: Foodie friends and family relaxed get-togethers, lunch with the girls, couples (there are little corners to hideaway).
Not for: Those wanting a formal dining room experience – it’s open plan with a laid back, relaxed vibe.
£££: Mid range and good value (portions are humungous). Starters £6.50-7, mains £12.50-23.50, cheese/desserts £3.20-7, kids menu £4.75-8, sandwiches and bar meals £4.74-12.50