THE SWAN Hotel in Kineton boasts a rich history stretching over 300 years but new head chef Ian Carter has his sights set firmly on the future as he looks to add a new culinary chapter to that history.
The 40-year-old, who has previously worked at The One Elm in nearby Stratford and The Jam House in Birmingham, has created a new seasonal menu with which he hopes to tempt the tastebuds of both villagers and visitors from further afield.
Ian, who arrived in the Swan kitchen just before Christmas, explained: “I quickly identified how the food needed uplifting so everything is now freshly cooked on the premises.
“As we’re moving into spring we are getting away from the slow and low kind of cooking into hitting the pan with fresh ingredients and straight onto the plate.
“There are also more fresh fish dishes on the menu and I’m confident once people start coming in, to try them, they will want to come back again and again.”
Fresh ingredients are sourced locally – vegetables and dairy from A M Bailey and meat from Barry The Butcher for meat, both in Stratford.
But Ian was faced with a balancing act. The Swan Hotel is that all too rare thing in this day and age – a busy pub at the heart of community. The menu needs to reflect this, and Ian has cleverly, and wisely, added new options alongside pub classics such as fish and chips, steaks, bangers and mash, pizzas, and burgers.
There were plenty of the classics making their way from the kitchen to the bar during our visit, and the pizzas looked particularly good.
The Swan offers the option to eat in the bar or the separate restaurant. We choose the latter, or should I say it choose us, as there was standing room only in the bar area, which is not small, reflecting the Swan’s popularity.
We decided to try some of the new dishes. I started with the excellent Seared Mackerel Fillet served with warm tomato salad and chorizo butter, while the good lady enjoyed her Chicken Confit Terrine with a Caesar salad.
For mains I went for the Flat Iron Chicken, which was perfectly cooked, and served with chips, garlic butter and rocket salad, while the meat fell off the bone of the good lady’s generously portioned Lamb Shank, chosen from the day’s specials board. It was accompanied by mash, parsnip, and carrots, and a gravy, the latter of which could have benefited from being slightly richer, although in truth that could be argued to be individual taste.
For dessert we sampled the Cherry Bakewell tart with vanilla ice cream, and the Chocolate Brownie with Raspberries, which came with a rich chocolate sauce, although a raspberry coulis would arguably have worked better.
All said, Ian has produced what should prove a crowd-pleasing menu. It is already clear he is a chef with passion and no shortage of skill and imagination, and the culinary future of The Swan Hotel is in good hands.