As a parent, I try to give The Child a few rules to govern her life; “prioritise what’s important, not what’s easy”, “effort is more important than achievement”, “Daddy’s toilet time is private time” you know, all the standard stuff. However, as grown-ups, Mrs P and I face an overwhelming tsunami of adverts and pressures telling us to work harder, buy more clothes, phones or TV’s. Lose weight, smile more and be nicer to people. Ugh. Perhaps if I had listened to my own instructions to The Child, I would have managed to write this review earlier because now I’m really late and I’m feeling bad about that. However, The Swan’s Easter Menu is still officially in place on their website so I reckon that if I squeak it in now while no-one realises and I might be OK. Right?
Regular readers may realise that I’ve been to The Swan at Salford before and I also included it in our list of best pub gardens around Milton Keynes. It’s an absolute cracker and on a warm Spring day when all you want to do is sit out and enjoy a glass of social beverage or two before tucking in to some very decent plates of grub then The Swan is certainly worth checking out. For those of you who know about such things, you’ll realise that I’m so late with this review that the rest of the MK blogging scene stalwarts (Girl Eats World, Sophieetc, LouBou) have already visited The Swan and written about the scallops in great detail and with significantly better photos than I can manage. However, where I fall down in the photo dept, I try (and often fail) to make up in witty bants. It might not make for a better post for you lot but it certainly keeps me amused of an evening.
After enjoying some warm bread and garlicy butter, Mrs P and I started out with some crispy beef and a bit of pea risotto. A good risotto can bring happiness and joy to even the most miserable of days and the team at The Swan can sure whip up a good one; lovely bright peas bursting with flavour compliment the oozy, cheese soaked risotto very nicely and a portion like this was gone in seconds. The crispy beef had a great sharp and sweet flavour combo going on with crunchy pepper alongside dressed salad and good quality meat gives a much better version of the dish than your normal Friday night special. If this was on the menu at the takeaway round the corner from me then I would be in there every night like a kid on cake. But it’s not so I’ll just have to keep going back to The Swan – what a shame.
Main dishes were just as accomplished, a meaty steak for Mrs P and the Sea Bass for me. Both were cooked excellently with the steak’s medium rare centre proving just as tasty as it’s seasoned crusted appearance would have had us believe. The sea bass was flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside, a beautiful combination and the potato hash was a great compliment with just enough carbs to bring the whole plate together. Looking back, there is no sign of the promised salsa verde mentioned on the menu but to be honest it wasn’t missed, perhaps it would have been nice to add a bit of colour but the flavours that were on the plate were top class as they were.
We also had a very nice side salad, a bit warm from the harissa dressing, a bit sweet from the sultanas and with plenty of various veg to fool us into believing we were eating healthily while also scoffing down the chips from the steak.
For pudding we shared an egg custard tart (please note the amusing and disproportionally high crispy rim, this is something I will demand from every tart I eat from now on) and a panna cotta. Both were accomplished and delicious but perhaps a step below our last desert experience here. There was nothing wrong with either dish at all and in all fairness, making either a custard tart or panna cotta at all is something that most of us won’t even attempt at home except in the most foolish of hosting situations so kudos to the kitchen for the attempt. In general though and with the exception of that crispy rim, the puds just seemed a bit… dull. Perhaps we ordered badly and I hope you’ll do better but while the meal as a whole was right up there with the standard that I have come to expect from The Swan, these were just a touch lack lustre.
In conclusion, would I come back? Well of course I would because I love it there. I held my mums birthday party here last year and quite honestly, the front of house team are some of the nicest people you will ever hope to meet. I don’t know what their hiring policy is but the staff have always hit the right tone for me; fun, engaging and always accommodating. It was, and remains, one of my favourite pubs in the area and I don’t see any reason to change that opinion. Go to enjoy the food, beer, the weather and your life.
The Swan at Salford invited me ages ago to try their Spring menu, I didn’t pay the bill but you would be looking at about £85 for this little lot including drinks for two people. Job done.