REVIEW: The White Swan, Shawell
Us Leicestershire folk ‘aint half lucky you know. Within mere minutes we can be in the heart of a bustling city or in a peaceful and picturesque village which wouldn’t look out of place on top of a biscuit tin at Christmas (I grew up in the seventies!).
Shawell is the latter, only 30 minutes from the city centre, and The White Swan sits just about in the middle. A traditional looking country pub from the outside and a comfortable foody haven inside, writes Lisa Delahoy.
As soon as we entered, a couple of Mondays ago, a team of friendly staff welcomed us and directed us towards the bar (my reputation
precedes me). There, a chalk board insisted we should try the Gabriel Boudier saffron gin with a Fever Tree Indian tonic and slice of orange. Who were we to argue?
G&Ts in hand, we were guided into a large room with a high glass roof, oxblood red walls, urban/country art and tables full of chatting couples, friends, locals and regulars. We were all here to sample the new Lobster and Steak menu – I love this style of dining, I’m lazy, there was only one choice to be made and mine was medium rare!
There was a gentle murmur, the lights were soft and my nostrils twitched with anticipation as wafts escaped from the kitchen. Let the feast begin! Our waitress presented some bread and butter, not any old bread and butter you understand. This was homemade Irish soda bread and tiger bread in big chunks with pats of beef and maple syrup butter. The beef butter was salty and meaty and sat perfectly on the soda bread while the maple butter, when smeared over the tiger bread, proved sweet and comforting.
Two plates arrived – A plump, savoury tempura tiger prawn balanced on top of a dollop of smooth avocado puree with a bitter frisee leaf and a sweet chilli drizzle. Our amuse-bouches not only woke up our taste buds but kicked them into gear, ready for the night ahead.
Two glasses of the crisp, fruity New Zealand Sauvignon arrived to accompany the rest.
The salmon and lobster ravioli swam into first place. A cluster of soft pillowy clouds of the freshest pasta loaded with a moussy mix of fish and seasoning, a sprig of tempura samphire, citrusy pickled fennel and a tangy balsamic confit tomato lined up ready for the waitress, who poured a rich and creamy shellfish bisque around the lot. Delicious.
Next was the bavette steak, hand-cut fries and cafe de Paris butter. My steak was, of course, perfectly cooked, seasoned well and the butter
sank into its beefy depths. The fries were a stack of crisp salty sticks which had to be eaten with fingers resulting in lots of giggles, crunching and salty lip smacking – forks were redundant.
When the sticky toffee pudding arrived the air filled with the aroma of syrupy toffee sauce and a rich buttery sponge. An absolute triumph of sweet and salt, treacle and rum accompanied by a subtle lavender ice cream on a chocolatey soil.
Finally, for those of us with the stamina (I’ve been in training), the petit fours and coffee. Light and flavoursome, miniature pink peppercorn and matcha tea madeleines and salted caramels with a couple of decaf cappuccinos. We’re at that age where “caf” would keep us up until 5am!
I do think you’d be extremely hard pushed to find a better meal for just £20 offering the same quality, service and surrounds. Drinks on top, of course, but what a deal.