Since the arrival of Baby G, dining out has become something to treasure. We either have to plan a meal around nap time and feed time or rely on family to help out. Luckily Baby G’s grandparents live nearby and are always happy to have some quality time with their new granddaughter.
So me and Owen decided to treat ourselves to some “us” time and booked a table at the Swan Hotel. Part of the Lewis Partnership since 2002 The Swan, situated in Stafford town centre, is an 18th century former coaching inn that has been transformed into a modern hotel, an award winning restaurant, two bar areas, a relaxing coffee shop and new Eco garden – a great venue for the town indeed.
We booked a table in the Brasserie and arrived to be escorted to a lovely secluded corner booth. As we sat down we were offered water for the table, and whilst Owen opted for one of the draught Cask Ales they serve, I requested the wine menu which had a great selection of wines by the glass, not something you find everywhere.
I often choose Goat’s cheese from a menu as it is something we don’t have often at home as Owen is not a huge fan, and was particularly tempted by the thoughts of Goat’s cheese ravioli, baby beetroot and Jersey royals with tomato vinaigrette.(£5.95). I’ve never had it in this way before and enjoyed the twist on the classic combination of Goats Cheese and beetroot, far superior to the normal salad style offerings. The pasta was light and cooked perfectly, the tomato and beetroot brought the acidity needed to cut through the rich cheese. Flavourful yet light, it was a perfect start.
Owen opted for the Seared Scottish scallops with crushed peas, crispy pancetta and white wine caviar sauce (£6.50). When it arrived on the table I was wishing I’d picked it, perfectly presented on a slate plate,it looked amazing.
For the purpose of this review I obviously had to sample it too – the benefits of being the food blogger in the family!! The scallops were perfectly cooked and the usual pairings of pea and pancetta were enhanced by the delightful sauce.
Both starters had certainly pleased and though these may seem a little pricey to some, they are the two most expensive starters on the menu with plenty of other choice ranging from £4.50.
For main I chose the Rump of Lamb, balsamic glazed cherry tomatoes, sauteed spinach, black pudding bob bons and rosemary vinaigrette. Yet again, Lamb served in this way is not something we do at home as until recently Owen never ate lamb and only now likes served in spicy dishes like curry or tagines.
The lamb was served perfectly pink, and as rump can be a bit on the fatty side the accompaniments were a great choice; the iron rich spinach and the sweet and sour tomatoes cut through it and the vinaigrette just brought all the flavours together. Now that would have have been a lovely plate of food, but what turned into a fabulous plate was the black pudding bon bons, gorgeous little deep fried balls of meaty delight. I did begrudgingly have to share one with Owen though – payback for the scallops I think.
The only thing I struggled with was the lack any potato or form of carbohydrate. Unfortunately I am one of those people who craves my carbs, particularly when dining out as diets don’t count then right? So to complement my dish I ordered a side portion of Handcut chips, which were huge chunky chips, and very good indeed.
Owen opted for a comforting tasty bowl of pasta with the Linguini of chilli marinated king prawns with chorizo sausage, slow roasted peppers and tomato fondue. I did have a little taste of this and it was superb – lots of paprika warmth, a generous amount of prawns and a wonderfully rich sauce.
After these two courses we were both feeling quite full, but in the interests of this review I opted to have a look at the desserts menu, and in the end could not resist ordering the Strawberry Mille Feuille with passion fruit and strawberry ice-cream (£4.95). This was light and creamy and the strawberry sauce and passion fruit provided a tartness to cut through the cream. A delicious way to end the meal.
Throughout the evening we had impeccable service, we were asked a few minutes after each course had been served if all was ok; we were approached for drinks when our glasses were almost empty, plates were cleared away shortly after finishing each course – attentive without being intrusive.
It was a lovely meal, perfect for our little bit of “us” time and what was even better is that with my Gourmet Life dining card we saved 25% off the bill – how fantastic!! Discount is available at all the Lewis partnership establishments including The Moat House Hotel, The Dog and Doublet Inn and even the Greengate Deli.
At the recent MFB meet up I also learned that James, the brains behind Gourmet Life, is hoping to extend the number of venues across Staffordshire and Derbyshire. I can’t wait!
Hasta pronto / be back soon