One of my favourite things about changing seasons is the change in food... Don't get me wrong, I love winter warmers, but spring brings fresh new flavours and dishes to the table. I was invited along to The Swan in Salford (owned by Peach Pubs) to sample the delights of their new spring menu.
The Swan has been on my to visit list for some time - I've been there a few times with other Milton Keynes bloggers for meetups but never ventured further in for dinner. Dan, my very willing boyfriend, has been a few times before and was always impressed, so I had high hopes prior to our visit!
As you enter The Swan, you'll come across the bar which is surrounded by a few welcoming armchairs. The restaurant is situated towards the back and is very cosy, with a mixture of booths and tables overlooking a frosted glass window so you can take a peek into the kitchen. The staff were also very friendly and attentive throughout the evening.
We went on the evening of Good Friday, and despite our table being booked at 7pm, it was actually very quiet until quite a bit later on. I'm not sure if it was the weather or the Easter Holidays that were keeping people away, but I have no doubt that on most evenings the restaurant and bar are very full!
Once we were settled at our table, we were brought a fresh mini bloomer loaf with some green olives and garlic butter. We also ordered a bottle of red wine to go with our meal. I love a Malbec, and our waitress, Melissa, recommended Tanners Argentinian Malbec, a deep plummy red that went down incredibly well with our food.
The Swan's spring menu has a good range of dishes to tickle your fancy. From sharing boards to start, steaks to share (or not!), to fresh vegetable dishes, there's something to suit most tastes. They also had a few specials on for the day which were all very tempting too! Price wise, The Swan is perhaps on the more expensive side, with a starter setting you back on average about £10, a main about £18 (but the specials were considerably more) and desserts about £7. However, I do think the price was reflected in the quality of food and service we received.
To start, Dan opted for one of the special dishes, a guinea fowl, orange and pistachio salad dressed with an orange reduction. This was incredibly tasty and very fresh with a kick, thanks to the rocket. The addition of pomegranate gave it some sweetness and texture which contrasted nicely with the succulent guinea fowl. Dan said he couldn't quite taste the pistachios in the dish which was a shame but overall he thoroughly enjoyed it. He was a little worried that it was too big a portion size for a starter but he needn't have worried as the rest of the courses were well balanced in size and he wasn't left feeling too full.
I decided to go for something from the main menu and had the pan-fried native scallops and Clonakilty black pudding served with apple crisps and apple dressing. This was a very pretty dish and was incredibly tasty - I enjoyed every mouthful! The scallops were cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth like butter. The black pudding added some smokiness and course texture to contrast with the scallops, whereas the apple crisps and dressing provided some crunch and sweetness. Everything was incredibly well balanced to create multiple layers of flavour and textures which nodded to the spring season. My only complaint was that I wanted to eat it all over again!!
For main courses, Dan decided to have something off the specials board again. He had the pan roasted turbet (fish) topped with a crispy crab and herb crumb and served with vegetable noodles and confit tomato sauce. The fish was flaky and moist which matched with the soft crab. The addition of the crispy crumb provided a beautiful contrast of flavours and the tomato sauce really lifted the dish. It was very tasty and looked gorgeous on the plate!
Nothing says spring like lamb... I had the cannon of lamb from the main menu which was served with fondant potato, peas and broad beans and a lamb jus. A cannon is the loin fillet which is a lovely tender cut that cooks fast. This was gorgeous - the lamb was perfectly cooked and served a little pink. It also came with what I think were minted bits of fat and meat which added some crispy texture and fresh flavour. The beans and peas were lovely too. My only thoughts were there needed to be a little more jus to go with the dish as the fondant potatoes were a little dry, but the last potato I had was beautifully tender as it had been soaking in the jus. Overall, a really lovely dish that I thoroughly enjoyed.
We definitely still had some room for dessert! After much deliberation, Dan decided on the lemon parfait served with black sesame meringues and lime curd. This was essentially a slice of very zesty lemon ice cream which was packed with sweetness. The lime curd provided a good kick of sourness to the dish which contrasted well with the meringues. The black sesame seeds added a bit of savoury taste and colour contrast, though we felt there was enough going on with the mixture of sweet and sour already. However, citrus desserts are always a perfect way to end a meal.
My last experience of coconut pannacotta was not a good one, but nevertheless, I decided I trusted The Swan to restore my faith! The smooth, creamy dessert was served with rum glazed pineapple and a crisp brandy snap. The pudding itself could have had a little more coconut flavour as the pineapple dominated the dessert somewhat but it was a still beautiful dish to finish my meal on and I loved the tropical flavours.
We had such a lovely meal at The Swan and their new spring menu is definitely worth a try. If you're looking for somewhere a little bit special but still with a cosy pub atmosphere, I can highly recommend The Swan.
To view the new menu and book a table, visit www.swansalford.co.uk
*This meal was provided complimentary for review purposes, but this does not affect my honest opinion!